Today we had a day off and traveled to San Juan to be tourists instead of missionaries. Everyone else in our group made their way out to the sand and water. Have a bit of time to myself. As I write this I am sitting in our van overlooking a beach in San Juan and blaring Beach Boys on my iphone. Guess I am being a bit nostalgic. Been too many years since I have been on a surfboard making a fool of myself.
Before coming here we toured through Castillo San Cristobol one of two of Puerto Rico’s fortresses. I did not realize Puerto Rico had been such a contested piece of real estate. The British tried several times to relieve Spain of Puerto Rico but only succeeded once for a two month period. This lack for success was due to the completion of the two fortresses. The thing that cracked me up about the whole thing is two of the major architects of the fortresses were Alejandro O’Reilly and Thomas O’Daily. Who knew O’Reilly and O’ Daily were such prominent Spanish surnames.
The other fascinating thing for me to find out was how the United States acquired Puerto Rico. I had always thought the U.S. had conquered Puerto Rico. You know Teddy Roosevelt and his Roughriders charging up San Juan Hill and all that. The fact is Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the US after the US began a sustained bombardment on El Morro- the other of Puerto Rico’s two fortresses. When the US obtained Puerto Rico in 1898, the Puerto Ricans believed they had a real shot at democratic rule. Not sure it has turned out as they had hoped.
The tour of Castillo San Cristobol was hot and sweaty, but nothing a lunch of Shrimp Scampi, Caesar Salad, and a mojito could not take care of. Yum!
The photos on the blog todaay are:
Top: part of our group getting ready for a day in San Juan. Right to left: Anthony, Max, Alicia C, Alicia W., Dave, and Chris.
Second: A view of Castillo San Cristobol from the land side.
Third: A view of the Puerto Rico coastline to the east from Castillo San Cristobol.
Fourth: A view of the Puerto Rico coastline to the west from Castillo San Cristobol. You can see El Morro in the distance.