I write this as Beau and I sit in the San Juan airport, waiting for our flight to take us back to the mainland U.S. We have five bottles of duty-free rum for the two of us, quite possibly a lifetime supply considering how little liquor we drink. Puerto Rico was honestly the perfect choice for our honeymoon. While I’m sad to be leaving, I’m looking forward to the first of our three wedding receptions this Saturday (not to mention the in-network capabilities of my iPhone!). We did so much during our week in Puerto Rico that this will be just the first of several posts describing our honeymoon!
On our second day in Puerto Rico, we decided to venture into Old San Juan. This is the historic—and touristy—part of the city.
Beau researched the bus system and discovered that while cheap, it’s confusing and unreliable. We took a taxi into San Juan, which is a flat rate of $15 from Condado, where we were staying.
We first visited Fort San Cristóbal, which dates back to the early 17th century. It is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World.
From a historian’s perspective, it was AWESOME. The dungeons featured historic graffiti, beautiful carvings of ships thought to have been carved by an imprisoned captain. The fort itself was in pretty good condition, especially considering it was used by the U.S. military during World War II. The views were stunning, and it was very easy to understand why the Spanish built their fort in that location.
|Fort San Cristóbal|
From a feminist’s perspective, it was depressing. The exhibits barely mentioned the Taíno natives who had lived on the island before the Spanish conquistadors. One exhibit casually mentioned the need to pay day laborers for construction because there was a lack of slaves. Ugh, the inconvenience!
Yet, from a public historian’s perspective, having interned in a museum and having taken a college course on public history, I understand why museums and historic attractions gloss over the evil parts of history. The average person is more interested in heritage, which is quite different from history. Heritage is how a society feels about its past and thus how a society chooses to remember its past.
Beau did not seem to experience the same moral conundrums that I felt during our entire visit to Fort San Cristóbal. He quite enjoyed playing with his fancy camera and taking beautiful panoramic photos.
|Not historic graffiti. This is one of the towers built during WWII.|
After touring the fort, we meandered through the streets towards a museum that piqued my interest, the Casa del Libro (House of the Book). Alas, it was closed for lunch when we arrived, so we stopped for lunch as well at a local fast food joint. Sadly, we realized upon our return that it was under renovation. This was not indicated on the sign on the door, but Beau pulled up the website on his phone (HIS phone was not out-of-network, lucky duck). I was really bummed because the museum features old books and manuscripts, which are basically my most favorite thing.
Our next stop was La Santa Catedral San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico (the Cathedral of San JuanBautista). The cathedral was quite beautiful, and I couldn’t help comparing how different the structure was to the cathedrals in France. All the signs were in Spanish, so Beau and I weren’t able to appreciate it fully. Only after the fact did we realize that the cathedral contains the tomb of Juan Ponce de Léon! Luckily Beau managed to take a picture of the tomb without realizing its importance, but it is not as glorious as the rest of his photography from our trip.
|Who knew this was the tomb of a super-famous explorer?|
While I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb, I did acquire her admiration for beautiful gardens. From the cathedral we made the long and sweaty trek to Casa Blanca (White House). While we briefly examined the house museum itself, we were mostly interested in the gardens.
At this point, my feet were killing me, and I was fairly overheated. I had little interest in exploring much else!
We finished up our day quite unexpectedly when we stopped by a tourism center. They had a bar with free drinks, courtesy of Puerto Rican rums! Beau and I each had a drink, we each received a free sample of Don Q rum, and the bartender told us about the nearby Don Q museum. Clearly we had to check that out—who can say no to a nice, air-conditioned museum with more free alcohol? And I discovered I DO like pina coladas!
All in all, Old San Juan was absolutely beautiful and incredibly colorful, but I was very grateful to visit the city with a loving husband who understood my need for frequent water breaks.
Stay tuned for more adventures
from our Puerto Rican honeymoon!