Today we began our adventures around Puerto Rico at Old San Juan. We started off by eating at a local bakery called Golden Sweet. It seemed to be a hub spot for the locals and they had many similar breakfast foods as we do. It was interesting actually, as we walked in we ran into an SIU alumni. I suppose you never know where you might see a fellow Saluki!
After breakfast, we drove into San Juan, which is about an hour drive from our hotel in Fajardo. There was much difficulty when we were trying to find a parking spot in Old San Juan, a fifteen passenger van does not exactly fit easily into very many places.
Our first stop of the day was at El Morro. El Morro, also known as El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, is a fort built to protect San Juan Bay’s deep harbor from attack by sea. It took over 200 years to build and the walls, which were extremely thick. It was interesting climbing through the six different levels of the fort and looking out upon the water and historic city.
Our group of 9 split into smaller groups to shop and eat lunch around Old San Juan. There were multiple little shops to walk in and out of that many of the locals ran. Surprisingly, many of the locals wanted to know why we were here and what we were studying. It was a challenge to try and communicate with some of them as for some of them their English is about as good as our Spanish. Most people did speak Spanish but still knew how to understand us in English.
We met up again later in the day at the second fort in Old San Juan called, Castillo de San Cristobal. Castillo de San Cristobal was built over a 150 year period to protect El Morro from land attacks. The two forts are actually connected by a wall that we walked along from Castillo San Cristobal back to El Morro. The views from both forts were incredible and it was quite breath taking looking out at the rest of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. Castillo San Cristobal was last used during World War II when the United States added a watch tower to scope out submarines.
After a day full of walking and climbing, we decided to order a pizza and relax by the Hotel pool for the evening. It was a great first day in Puerto Rico and a great way to learn about the culture of the people. Looking forward to our next adventure!
Jalyn Ridgely & Heather Kiner
Olney, Illinois & Mendota, Illinois
Both studying Agribusiness Economics