Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old San Juan

Sunset from the night before

Plaza entered after the cruise pier

Gate of the Old Wall

Love the colored houes

The streets were paved with ballast from the Spanish ships. The empty ships would arrive filled with slag from the smelting industry which would be dumped at the harbor  and replaced with gold. These are not bricks. The blue color comes from the iron salts we were told, but I think it must be copper giving the color.

Cute coffee shop where we stopped to rest a bit from walking in the heat and to get good coffee for a change

Basketball court of La Perla neighborhood. Hard to see in this picture but a flock of chickens were running across it followed by a pit bull. We were told not to visit this neighborhood if we wanted to be safe. While we were looking at it from on top, an old man who lived there told us that Carmelo Anthony recently restored the court. His father grew up there. Puerto Ricans are very proud of Carmelo and he brings back a lot to the community. Carmelo is a favorite of Naomi's, not only for his skills but because he is co cute. Outside investers have been trying to bulldoze this neighborhood as it obviously is prime land

There are two forts guarding the harbor of Puerto Rico, both 500 years old. I had visited El Morro on a previous trip. This is San Cristobal. One of our dining conpanions was trapped in an elevator on this visit, scary for them.

Bookstore for El Morro and a bathroom for me. As it had wifi, my friend tried to reconnect with the world there

San Juan harbor at night in the rain and through a window

As we pulled into San Juan Harbor, my chest tightened painfully. What was going on? No digestive issues; breathing normally and my pulse was just slightly elevated as I had run about 4 miles an hour or so before. Most of the pain centered around my right rib cage (where the cancer was..the heart is on the left). I worried about a heart attack. Both arms were sore from my frantic paddling against the current from snorkeling the day before but this hurt more than sore muscles. I debated whether I wanted to be walking around in the heat with this going on. After resting for about 20 minutes on a lounge chair watching the antics of the frigate birds, it passed and fortunately did not surface again.

Old San Juan is muy lindo! We debated how to see it all: I kept turning corners every time I saw something I wanted to photograph; my friend favored a more systematic approach. When it became too hot, we would duck into one of the many shops. I ended up buying a very pretty necklace, which I will eventually take a photo of, and some earrings. We had a brief break at a coffee shop. We also walked on the grounds of the 2 old forts and went through a very pretty park in pursuit of the noisy parrots that kept flying above us. We saw those strange caterpillars. In the stretch between the two forts, a slum, La Perla,(oxymoronic name) just a few blocks wide, hugs the coast. The houses there are a sharp contrast to the beauty of Old San Juan. But its residents are very proud as the father of Carmelo Anthony grew up there. Carmelo for his part has contributed a lot to the youths of this neighborhood, his old Baltimore neighborhood and that of Red Hook, NY. Good for him!

All that walking in the heat led to another case of Golfer's Vasculitis for me, though it was much milder than what I got from walking in 95+ degree heat in Rome for 8 hours. It is ugly though and looked like a fungal infection. The weather went from not a cloud in the sky to overcast to drizzle. Time to return to the ship. A wonderful day!

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