Friday, May 21, 2010

The Vacation, Part Three: San Juan, PR (Day 5)

He woke up early Thursday morning.  He had to.  The Glory would arrive in San Juan at 7:00am, and he didn’t want to miss anything.  He roused his wife, Keisha, and together they ate their free room service breakfast.  Shortly, they were both ready to debark.

Wall Stepping off the ship, Logan Stewart was instantly drenched in sweat.  The heat and humidity of San Juan was in that perfect stage, the one that no matter what, you’re always going to be uncomfortable.  He took his wife’s hand and they navigated through the throng of people waiting to go on an excursion.  They had their own thing to do, thanks to a recommended walking tour found on the Triple A website.

“Taxi!” a local called. 

“Hey mon, need a taxi?” 


He just shook his head, declining, pressing on and out away from the crowd.  Up ahead he spied the little building he needed to find.  The tour would start at a City Info building.  From there, the route pretty much followed the cobbled streets along the walled city, all the way up to El Morro, an ancient fort.  Then the path would lead through the city district, through historical sights and shopping, and up to the castle.  He read over the tour briefly, powered on his camera, and began.

San Juan is a fortified city.  Giant walls surround it, erected a few hundred years ago.  Walking down the path beside the walls, Logan couldn’t help but think about sieges and old wars.  He marveled at a beautiful sculpture, camera flashing.  The trees were all different, like they almost belonged to a rain forest (which could be possible, as the only rainforest found in the US is in PR).  They pressed on and suddenly came to a stop.

“It’s the feral cats,” said Logan.  He pointed to the handful of cats that blocked the path.

“Can I pet them?” asked Keisha.El Morro

Logan shook his head.  “No.  You don’t wanna get Puerto Rican Cat Scratch Fever.”  They stood there for a moment, taking a few more pictures, waiting for the cats to move.  There was another group of people following the same walking tour, looking at the cats.  Logan watched them turn up and into the city, and he quickly followed.

Inside the walls they made their way much quicker.  Logan talked with the other travelers, who jokingly made fun of their accents.  “Apparently,” thought Logan, “our Kentucky voices are more recognizable than I thought.”  They saw a few more cats, but ignored them.  And soon, El Morro was in view.

The scene was breathtaking.  Logan had never seen anything like it in his life.  High atop a beautifully manicured green hill sat the fort.  On the backdrop was the mighty ocean, waves breaking and crashing against the rocks below.  Children were flying kites high in the sky.  He walked up the hill and paused outside the fort, wondering if this was the oldest manmade structure he’d ever seen.  Inside was like stepping into another world.  Cracked and aged walls, narrow steps, cannons and cannonballs.  He climbed to the top level of the fort and the view was breathtaking.  He could see all around the city, the colorful little houses and the large government buildings.  At a far, remote corner of the island was a small, run-down home that used to house lepers.  Set against the ocean was a large cemetery, quite different than the kinds in the States.

Before he left, he talked to a local about some island history and also where to find some good, local food.  The man marked a location on his map, and soon the couple left the fort.  They found the downtown shopping area and Keisha immediately began exploring the factory Coach and Doonie & Bourke stores.  Like with the rest of the islands on this trip, prices can be negotiated and nothing is set in stone.  They walked down the narrow streets, stopping at whatever stores struck their fancy, until they found Los Yeyos, the local restaurant.

View From the Bathroom at El Morro The owner was nice, and the food fantastic.  The little building was small and blue, just like something you might see in a Bourne movie.  After lunch, Keisha wanted to hit some more shopping, and Logan followed.  The weather was still very hot and sticky.  Eventually they made their way to the castle, high up on another hill, and they took more pictures.  Tired, not wanting to pay the entrance fee, and late in the day, Logan decided not to go in.  Instead, they made their way back towards the ship.

It was hard, walking past the beggars and panhandlers.  He felt conflicted, wanting to give, but wondering if they were conning.  He boarded the boat and checked back in.

The night was rough.  The winds were still strong and the waves still very choppy.  The boat rocked back and forth.  Keisha became very nauseous and went to bed early.  Logan saw a few people clutching their stomachs, trying hard to fight the seasickness.  He himself never felt threatened or sick, but the rocking was disorienting enough to cause a slight headache.  He decided to skip the midnight Mexican buffet and went to bed.


Stephanie Fey said...

Fantastic pictures, Logan, and you tell a right good yarn!

Love to Keisha.

Steph x

logankstewart said...

@Steph: Hey, hey, thanks friend. I'll send your love her way.