It is in April 2019 when we leave for a short boat trip to the Caribbean sea , starting from Miami to Puerto Rico which is about 1600 km ( 1000 miles ) in the southeast , visiting the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas over there and coming back to Miami.
Our first stop on the road is Puerto Rico , San Juan . After having spent 2 joyful and restful days on the sea , we arrive at the shore . I love to be on the sea , on a boat , on a ship , on a sailing boat- whatever – to look at the endless blue of the sea and the sky – I do love it ! The wind blowing into your face is the best that you can have and if some water from the ocean is splashing into your face , it is even better.
Sometimes if you are close to the shore , the seagulls are starting to fly around – so nice to watch and sometimes to feed them.
We arrive at the port in the late afternoon and will have some time to stroll around in the city.
Puerto Rico is Spanish and means “rich port ” while the official name today of Puerto Rico is “the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico “. Its territory belongs to the United States.
The local people call it also the island Boriken which is the original Taino native name of the island and means “the land of the vaillant Lord “.The main island as well as some smaller islands around are belonging to Puerto Rico with its biggest city , San Juan with a total population of 3.4 million citizens. People are speaking English and Spanish over here. on the islands . Originally the Taino people, as they are called, were living on these islands until the area was discovered by Christoph Colombus in 1493 and became a Spanish colony for more then 400 years .
Dutch , British and French were also passing by this region but it remained in Spanish hands . Since 1917 the inhabitants of Puerto Rico are US citizens and are free to travel between the islands and the mainland but since Puerto Rico is not a state they are not represented in the US Congress.
It is in the afternoon, the port is vivid , there are lots of people around who try to explore the ancient city , drink their coffee , their Baccardis and Piñacoladas in front of the little puerto rican cafes.
We arrive at the Plaza Major . In the mid of the place there is a huge statue of Christoph Colombus , the man who left Europe to arrive in India but who discovered the American continent .With his arrival in the Caribbean Sea , the destiny of the continent and its native people changed fundamentally and the region started to be colonized by the European empires .
The city reminds me a little bit of Trinidad in Cuba. It has the same 500 years old Spanish Colonial style of architecture and culture and is also one of the important stops on the way from Europe to South America similar to Cuba.
Massive fortresses and the city wall are embracing San Juan , El Morro on one side and Castillo de San Cristobal on the other side of the shores.
In the ancient city all the old houses are restored , each in a different bright tropical color, newly painted and they look very proper and clean. Below the 2-floor, old houses are rows of many restaurants, bars, lounges and shops – some are funky , some are in grunge and some in chic style.
We stroll around the streets , the plazas, the administrational buildings and the theatre.
We walk along the Fortaleza street which is one of the main streets in San Juan.
Here in the shops you can buy a lot of wooden hand crafted souvenirs – one that is very iconic to Puerto Rico is the vejigante mask .
The vejigante ( the word consists of 2 Spanish words – vejiga which is the cow bladder and gigante which means huge or giant ) masks are colorful , phantastic and have their origin in the medieval times of Spain and were presenting a kind of demon but during the centuries and with the influence of the native Taino folks of the island and the African cultural influences it became a unique folkloric element in Puerto Rico.
While walking throughout the city we arrive at the end of the Fortaleza street . Just before we arrive at the church and the Residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico which looks beautiful in light blue and white color , umbrellas in different colors are decorating the street .
Slowly the sun starts getting weaker and we have a beautiful view to the port while walking back the road .
We enjoy the view .We are in mid of the ocean between the Caribbean and the Atlantic ocean – far away from big cities and huge civilizations. We walk down the old roads to the port.
I think this is a feeling of freedom as you are in a nice natural environment – no TV , no cellphone , no internet – maybe you might get a little bit of internet in the corner of a little cafe but not really and the detox of all this technology makes you feel better and more comfortable.
We walk slowly down the promenade back to the port . The lights on the streets are switched on and the street sellers for the night have taken their place selling some souvenirs , little guitars , some fruit and showing their birds, especially their parrots.
The cafes and restaurants are full and people are partly sitting on the streets listening to the music around and enjoying the evening of a summer night in San Juan , Puerto Rico.
The Fortaleza and the Ancient city of San Juan have their historical and cultural importance as they became a UNESCO World heritage in 1983. The historical site with its fortress was built in the 16th century and is a series of defensive structures at a strategic point in the caribbean sea to defend the city and the bay of San Juan.
It represents European military architecture at the harbor site on the American continent which is quite unique.
For us it is the first stop in this region , we will continue our trip to the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas and are very excited what we will all see on this journey.