An Afternoon in Old San Juan

Trip Start Feb 18, 2012
Trip End Feb 25, 2012

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Flag of Puerto Rico  ,
Monday, February 20, 2012

We made port at 3PM local time after switching to Atlantic (aka whatever in the Caribbean) time zone.  Teresa's suitcase showed up before we disembarked!  A beautiful afternoon we struck out on foot into Old San Juan.  The old city is a delightful blend of old Spanish influence architecture and new city shops and commerce.  We walked through the streets, feeling a bit thirsty and pulled into a charming sidewalk cafe called Marilyn's Place.  We befriended the parents as well as the kids and found the best mojitos and coolest "gato" on the island.  Refreshed and emboldened we struck out for our destination - El Morro, the old Spanish fortification on Puerto Rico.

In centuries past, Puerto Rico was a highly valued piece of island real estate.  Buoyed by the trade winds coming from Africa and Europe, the island is the first rock of land with fresh water and sustainable amounts of agriculture.  The gateway to the west indies, the Dutch tried and failed to take the island.  The Spanish maintained control of Puerto Rico until the Spanish-American war in the late 19th Century (they lost Cuba and Philippines in that one also).  It was President's day and the wide green in front of the fortification of El Morro was filled with picnicking families and flying kites which is a popular past-time in San Juan Viejo ("Old San Juan").

El Moro is impressive.  The fortress was built over some three or four centuries, each level adding some defense to the existing structure.  A sister island to the west gave rise to a small buttress from where the Spanish could create a cross-fire of cannons with El Morro at the entrance to San Juan harbor.  A tour of El Morro included looks out over the blue Atlantic.

Feeling a bit hungry we made our way back into town and found a Spanish tapas restaurant.  We always seem to find a Spanish tapas restaurant - this one had homemade sangria and a great menu of Puerto Rican and Spanish fare. A wonderful cap to a wonderful day.

Tomorrow we go snorkeling off of St. Thomas - will we see a sea turtle? Will it rain?  Forecasts call for showers, but this is the Caribbean in February.  Everyday calls for showers.  We shall see.

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