View of Castillo San Felipe, from Castillo de San Cristobal
When I first arrived, I couldn't believe what a huge, Americanized, metropolis Puerto Rico was. Having spent most of my Caribbean time on very small islands, I just assumed.... but no, it was like flying into San Jose (California)!! Eight-lane highways, mountains, ocean and warmth. I instantly fell in love with this place. Once I got on the ground, met our tour manager at the airport, and got a ride into the city of Old San Juan for our evening welcome reception, I had already decided that I was going to retire HERE some day! This was like the Caribbean and American rolled into one. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm so American it is ridiculous. I've always disliked the idea of living in another country. This would be the best of both worlds -- summers on Cape Cod, winters in Puerto Rico. It was all but decided...
The decision would be short-lived (well, I should say, the jury is still out). This was because, directly across the street from our hotel (and I mean, I could see the building from my hotel room) was a cock-fighting arena. Once the group stopped making male anatomy jokes, I had to wonder exactly where our chicken dinners were coming from -- dinner was at the restaurant next door! (Oh, being a vegetarian there is a bit difficult as well, so add another check box to the "cons" column.) Evidently this "sport" of cock-fighting is as popular here as bullfighting is in Spain. I get the cultural significance, but I know I can't endorse it. As one of my traveling companions said, "Well, you don't have to GO there!" I said, "It doesn't matter, I know it is happening, and that is enough for me." Disappointing, and such a paradoxical contrast to the beauty of the island.
As per my previous post-travel post, "Ireland is Lovely, but where are the dogs?", I knew there would be stray animals around. I know people who've rescued dogs from Puerto Rico. Happily, I didn't see any stray dogs. But cats? Different story. There were dozens. At our hotel, and on the beach, there were a few, and on our sightseeing tour of the old city, there was an entire cat-infested street that basically amounted to a tourist attraction (yea, I took a photo of every cat on that street, and there were a bunch!!).
There was very little free time, but a week ago, on the Sunday when my colleagues were rapt at attention to the NFL teams who were playing off for their final championship games, this non-fan took a long walk on the beach. Often admonished by my fellow photography buffs ("Always bring a camera!") I forgot my camera. Wouldn't you know it, I found one of those Hobie boats and figured it was my Hobie sending telepathic hellos from home. I walked ALL the way back to the hotel, got my camera, and walked ALL the way back to the Hobie boat, just so I could take a selfie of "me and Hobie". I'm not good at selfies, my arms are too short and I always make "ugly photographer face" trying to focus and aim the darned thing! Nevertheless, here 'tis.