The streets were tiny, lined with people and rundown buildings, and traffic was a mess. As we drove through San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, I was reminded that while we were in a U.S. Territory, we were still another country. Billboards whizzed by, the words unreadable to me because I only speak English (I can’t wait to change that), and the graffiti lined streets were more of an art in San Juan than a statement about crime.
After arriving in the part of San Juan known as “Old San Juan,” we took a free trolley to Castillo de San Cristobal. As we waited for the trolley I noticed that while traffic seemed like a mess at first, once you looked closer, it was more like a carefully constructed orchestra. Cars would speed through intersections and I was sure that there would be an accident; however, just-like-that the other cars would slow down and that first car would keep moving on with traffic. It was really neat to watch. (I was glad that I wasn’t the one driving, but it was still neat to watch).
Once arriving at Castillo de San Cristobal, we were able to learn about the history of the fort and discover why Spain decided to fortify Puerto Rico (A dream of a world empire). Spain controlled Puerto Rico from 1508 to 1898 and because of the trade route, trade winds, and ocean currents, Puerto Rico, and more specifically the San Juan Islet, was a perfect place to build such a fort. While exploring this massive (and complex) fort we were also able to see some amazing views of the northern coast.
Because Old San Juan is basically all within walking distance, we decided that we would walk to the grocery store rather than wait for the trolley. Walking the tree-lined-cobble-stone streets was a neat experience. The colorful buildings were quaint and exquisite, people were out and about enjoying the day, and music was flowing out of the local restaurants. The weather was warm, the skies were overcast, and there was a slight breeze in the air; perfect strolling weather.
Our day in San Juan came to a close all too quickly; however, the anticipation of the exciting week ahead of us allowed us to say an easy “Adios” to Puerto Rico and “Hello” to new adventures!