We both may have gotten some of the best sleep of our lives. After a long day of travel the kids didn’t budge and we slept like babies. A few strong cups of coffee from the percolator and we were ready to go. We are very fortunate that Anita’s uncle has a spare Land Rover for us to drive. Yes, a spare Land Rover. This allows us to access the island anytime we want. Getting behind the wheel when you travel overseas definitely gives you a different view and feel for the place. You can feel the flow of the area and of the people. You no longer feel like a tourist.
Our fist stop was the Castillo San Felipe and Castillo San Cristobal which is a national historic site in San Juan. It is the large fortification and wall that surrounds San Juan (https://www.nps.gov/saju/planyourvisit/index.htm). This part of Puerto Rico has so much history and being able to see this with our children was very special. They can touch the wall, enter the fortification and see where ships would pass hundreds of years ago into one of the worlds most important ports of entry. The area is run by the National Parks system and has a ton to offer. It will take you a full day to walk the wall and see inside. The area is full of iguanas that scale the walls in at an almost impossible angle as well as feral cats that seem to guard the ancient ruins.
After our walk around the fort we headed back into town and found ourselves walking through the ally ways lined by multi-colored homes and small shops selling treats and clothing. Puerto Rico is an island full of energy and the vibrant colors only exacerbate that energy. It is beautiful and full of life. Although technically part of the United States, make no mistake, it is a Caribbean nation. The culture is still in tact and in many areas you will find people who speak only spanish. For those that may not have a passport It is a great cultural experience that you will not get within the continental United States.
After our walk around Old San Juan we checked out the local Coast Guard base (if you are an active duty member of the military you can get on). The Coast Guard has some prime property right down town in Old San Juan. We were lucky enough to be able to park there and walk into town.
Our drive home was quiet as all the kids passed out from the long hot day. Traffic can get pretty bad around San Juan but it was nothing we haven’t seen before in a major city. We navigated the streets, learned the slightly less organized traffic patterns and made it home to the crystal clear pool waiting for us. It was an amazing end to a beautiful day. Tomorrow we hit the caves.