Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Trip - Cruise Day 2 - Puerto Rico

We weren't scheduled to dock in San Juan until 3:00pm on our second day, so that gave us the whole morning for hanging out on the ship. I took a lot of pictures of the water. The wind was stiff, and it showed in the ocean's surface. This one is toward the sun.

This one is away from the sun.

On the Sports Deck I found The Wall, seen here being conquered masterfully by this young woman.

Finally, I went hunting for the Fitness Center and found it on Deck 14. The treadmills look out beyond the bow of the ship.

I put my camera back in my room, changed, and went back to the Fitness Center for one of those treadmills. I was expecting to look out over the ocean, but the little TV screen took up the center of my view, and there was no way to fold it down. Sometimes I leaned to the right or the left to see the water better, but each time I did, I started to fall over, so I had to give up on the idea of getting more than a peripheral view of the water.

We sailed into port at San Juan, Puerto Rico, just before 3:00, past this old Spanish fort that reminded my mom and me of the Castillo in St. Augustine.

When we got the all-clear announcement, we left the ship to the organized chaos on the pier. My friend and I were on the Walking Tour, and my mom and my friend's mom (FM) were taking a bus tour of Old and New San Juan, so we went our separate ways, finding the person holding the sign with our tour name on it.

Our tour guide was Carlos, who loaded us on a bus and explained that we'd be riding to the top of the hill where the fort sits, and then we'd walk our way two miles downhill toward the pier. It sounded like a good plan to us.

At the fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Carlos started the history lesson.

Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico on his second voyage, in 1493, and named it San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) as a way of currying favor with King Ferdinand (the King's son was named Juan). But the name was changed over time, and now only the city retains the name.

After some more information about Puerto Rico and the fort, Carlos gave us some time to explore the fort on our own. The interior walls are painted...

... and the exterior is left to the elements.

I climbed up to the highest level and looked down as the sun was dropping closer to the horizon.

Carlos gathered us back together again, and we set off away from the fort near sunset.

The wind got even stronger, whipping our hair as well as the palm fronds.

Carlos took us to a building that was originally the barracks for the Spanish, but was turned into a US Naval Hospital and kept in use as recently as World War II. He told us that on a few of his previous tours, people told him they were born here, and a couple of them said they had worked here when it was a hospital. It's now a museum.

By the time we finished at the hospital, it was dark and the picture-taking got difficult. As we walked down the cobbled streets of Old San Juan, a frantic fluttering caught my eye, and I stopped to investigate. This is what I found.

I thought the dove was stuck in the wire mesh, but right after I got this photo, the dove flew down to the windowsill opposite the cat, who kept staring at the bird without attacking.

My friend did a little shopping after the tour ended (she actually has the shopping gene that I seem to be missing), and I went with her. My feet felt as though they'd been pounded relentlessly for weeks, and I couldn't get back on the ship soon enough.

We managed to get back in time for dinner, which was a delectable pork chop with cranberries and a potato-cheese bake. Dessert was chocolate mousse, and I ate it without taking its picture.

We didn't stay up late, because tomorrow we dock in St. Thomas at 8:00 in the morning. There was a scorpion in our room to greet us at bedtime.

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