Thursday, September 1, 2016

Adventure in Puerto Rico: Day 6

We spent Monday morning at the beach.
(See the purple symbols for Monday)

This time we walked to the east, where the water was not so shallow.
The water was clear and blue,
 with waves just right for bobbing in.
 We tried out some flippers,
and Scoot and Rollo really liked the snorkels.
I think we spent a couple of hours in the water, long enough that our carefully applied sunscreen washed off.
But it was worth it.
 After lunch we went into old San Juan,
 where we walked, sweatily, past lots of lovely architecture.
 So cheerful!
Even on such a hot day, we found a penguin.  This whimsical sculpture is directly across the street from . . .
the Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista.  It was the first official cathedral built in the new world, back in the 1500s.
The cathedral is being renovated, as such buildings usually are.  It looks like they're painting over the well-done trompe-l'œil moldings. 
The remains of founding father Ponce de León were moved to this marble tomb in the 1800s, from a church a few blocks away.  I think we walked past that one later, and it was completely closed for construction work.
This window clearly depicts the relative weights of the Ten Commandments.
And this a view across the church parking lot.  I like the vine motif.  Dandelionslayer pointed out a sign posted outside.
"Hoy tarifas
10 dólares"
meaning "Today parking costs $10".  But he saw it as "Holy Tariffs 10 dollars."  Pay up.
The boys enjoyed spotting lizards and unfamiliar birds throughout our trip.  D2 was just as enchanted with the feral cats and dogs that were everywhere.
They may be wild, but they're not stupid.  The Caterpillar counted at least fifteen cats lounging in the shade of a few cars in one narrow street.  I'm glad I wasn't wearing fur that day.
I think the younger boys would have liked to join the cats in the shade, but we pressed on to the castle.  Castillo San Felipe del Morro, that is, a fort that has guarded San Juan Bay for nearly five hundred years.  I knew the boys would like to see a castle, and that they'd like the name--Morro is also the name of a malevolent ghost in Lego's world of Ninjago.
 D2's park pass got us in again.

The view from the restroom, which was built right into the fort.
It was a very successful fort.  The Spanish used it from 1539 until the United States received the island after the Spanish American War.
Then the US Army manned the fort until after World War II.  Several layers were added to the fort over the years to keep up with military technology . . .
like this big cannon.
One of these sentry boxes appears on Puerto Rico's license plates, and also on the territorial quarter. 
It was fun to go stand in one and admire the view.  But I'm glad I'm not one of those Spanish soldiers who had to stand watch in the heat.

Definitely a view worth defending.  Actually, I think this shows where a smaller fort across the bay provided valuable crossfire.
 I'm not sure to which era this box belongs, but I like it, too.
This small lighthouse perches at the top of the castle.
 We walked down the extensive lawns to see another iconic view:
 The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, final resting place of many notable citizens.
 We looked at it from above, where it is partially enclosed by the fort's thick walls,
and this lovely arcade.

  Then we followed the blue brick roads
past the Tótem Telúrico, a granite and ceramic sculpture honoring the indigenous peoples of the Americas,
and Ponce the Conquistador, with pigeon.
 We sought, and found, some relief from the heat at Rita's,
 where we enjoyed Italian ice in tropical flavors like mango and passionfruit
 amid historical decor.
There are plenty of big, modern buildings in young San Juan, but Old San Juan is an island of colonial preservation.

 Then we bid farewell
 to colorful San Juan and its colorful people.
On Tuesday we cleaned up and came home.  Usually, one feels that it is time for a vacation to be over.  We weren't ready to go yet.  There is so much more to see and do on this little island.  But after the trials of flights and airports and driving in the middle of the night, we were grateful to reach our home again.

For more of the adventure, see:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5