"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

February 23, 2020

Feb. 18 - Old San Juan, PR

“You have the brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go.” -Dr. Seuss 

Today we walked up to a little coffee kiosko in the Plaza de Armes for breakfast. We enjoyed a very good cup of coffee, a guava pastry and a nice visit with a local enjoying the same breakfast...to us it was the perfect way to start our day. After breakfast we headed up to El Morro. One of two forts that were built by the Spanish to protect the city from pirate attacks from the French, Dutch and English. Castillo San Felipe del Morro, (El Morro) sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to the San Juan Bay. Construction on El Morro began in 1539, but the six-level fortification was not considered complete until 1787. El Morro is an immense fort with 18-foot thick walls, dungeons, barracks, outposts, ramps, and mazes of tunnels that protected the city from foreign invasion. 

San Juan Harbor was an important port because steering currents and trade winds blew sailing ships here. It was the first major island with water, shelter and suppliers that sailing ships in route to the Americas from Europe needed. Today Old San Juan is a busy hub for tourism. It's the Caribbean’s main cruise port and is home to more than 28 different cruise lines which bring millions of tourists to the city each year. (oh...that doesn't sound good).

We spent the day taking in the beauty of this old town and we've fallen in love. People have been walking these same streets for 500 years...small streets and colorful old buildings full of so many memories. If walls could talk, the stories they could tell.

Plaza de Armas...our favorite little area to relax and watch people and have breakfast.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Map of the fort.
The fort was protected by a dry moat. The moat was a key component of their defense. A moat makes it difficult for enemies to reach and climb the walls. Moats make the walls even higher and they hide the foundation of the fort protecting it from enemy cannon fire. 
This was the window in the lady's bathroom...what a view. 
Puerto San Juan [El Morro] Lighthouse - Four lighthouses have served to mark the entrance to Puerto San Juan. The present tower was built in 1908. 
A view of Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, Old San Juan and Castrillo San Cristobal. 
Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Looking east across the entrance of San Juan Harbor. Fort San Juan de la Cruz is on the other side of the channel. The two forts provided cross fire and made entering the harbor impossible.
Military engineers of the 1600s and 1700s built sentry boxes, called "garitas," that protruded from high vantage points. Sentries kept an eye on the landward and seaward approaches, as well as the base of the walls below. Twenty-eight garitas remain on the fortresses and city walls of Old San Juan. Each is unique in style and shape., reflecting the influences of the Earline in which it was built. 
The Paseo El Morro (El Morro Walk) is a path that leads from the fort to the San Juan Gate. It provides great views of  La Fortaleza (the Governor's Mansion), the  Islade Cabras and the San Juan harbor. 
We enjoyed lunch in this little outside cafe named El Parnaso. 
Two of the cruise ships that were in port while we were in OSJ...the people looked like little ants coming off their boats from a viewpoint high on the city wall.
Happy hour was at a little spot called El Adoquín del Patio. Far from the harbor and very local...but lots of fun.

4 comments:

  1. I sure did enjoy your section on Puerto Rico. Our Family moved there from Hakalau near Hilo, Hawaii in 1952 when my Dad went to work for one of the Sugar plantations on the south coast of the Island. Central Aguirre, about midway between Ponce and Guayama it was a great place to grow up. It was an American company most of the staff from the mainland it had an English pvt school with teachers from mainland except for the Spanish class teacher who was from Puerto Rico. All the "American" kids and most of our parents spoke Spanish fluently, I still use it everyday even in Louisiana. We lived there until 1962, ten years, when my Dad started to work for a Louisiana company making sugar cane equipment and we moved to Thibodaux, LA. As an adult I worked for that same company and spent two more years there managing the Puerto Rico branch, so I know the Island, food and people very well. As you no doubt noticed the sugar industry is no more in Puerto Rico, same as Hawaii, the abandoned sad sugar mill chimneys are spotted around the countryside.
    Also sadly we sold our Monk 36 GUMBO to a very nice long time sailing couple from New Orleans about a month ago. Mr & Mrs Arthur Mears I believe they have joined the MOA maybe you will meet them at one of the functions of cruising.
    I'll still keep checking your blog I enjoy reading of the cruise and other trips
    Steve
    I was really nice to read your travelogue Thanks for posting it

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    1. We saw that you had sold the boat...maybe we will meet the new owners one day. Thanks for sharing the info, I bet you enjoyed in PR and Hawaii. We sure loved both. I hope we can get back to PR one day. Thought it would be next winter, but who knows now. Stay in touch. Any other boats in your future?

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  2. Thanks, I still have the 17' Whaler Montauk I bought new in 1981 at our fishing camp in Cocodrie, south of Houma. I'll be doing some fishing for a while, no plans for a cruising boat at the time, I do miss it a lot though.
    You all take care and let us know if you pass through Houma.
    Steve, stwillett@aol.com

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    1. We'll look you up if we get that way...enjoy the fishing boat.

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