Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 – San Juan, Puerto Rico

     It was during the second voyage to the New World in 1493 that Columbus sighted the island of San Juan, later renamed Puerto Rico.  With 272 miles of Atlantic and Caribbean coastline and a culture dating back to the Taino Indians 2,000 years ago, Puerto Rico is  formidable attraction.  The city roughly breaks down into several divisions, including the old walled city on San Juan Island.  Old San Juan, the original city founded in 1521, contains authentic and carefully preserved examples of 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial architecture, some of the best in the New World.  More than 400 buildings have been beautifully restored.  The old city is partially enclosed by walls, dating from 1630 that once completely surrounded it.  Sitting on a rocky promontory on the northwest tip of the old city is San Felipe del Morro, a fortress built by the Spaniards from 1570 – 1783.  El Morrow was built to protect San Juan Bay’s deep harbor from attack by sea.  It was the first good harbor for sailing ships en route to the New World after a one- or two-month Atlantic voyage from Europe.  On the left is El Morro and on the right is El Morro in the distance taken from Fort San Cristobal.

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Castillo San Cristobal, with its sprawling outer defenses, was built over 150 years to protect El Morro and the city from land attack.  Inspired by such attacks by rivals England (1598) and Holland (1625), it was designed by the Irish-born Chief Engineer Thomas O’Daly.  O’Daly served Spain because Spain was an enemy of Ireland’s  enemy England.  Castillo San Cristobal is the biggest European fortification in the Americas.

     We climbed to the top and the views were spectacular.  Going down was almost as bad as going up.  It is not Ray in the picture.

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     Our tour took us along the beach, into the newer areas of town and Old San Juan.  It was a beautiful but humid day.

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     There was only one show tonight, “Simply Broadway” presented by the singers because we do not depart until 11 PM.  At 11:15 there was the Indonesian Crew Show.  As usual, a talented crew.  The did the “monkey” story and had an anklung orchestra.  We were sitting too far back for me to get picked to play with them.  They also did the hand movement which was great — and funny.  The guy on the left kept messing up.

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