Posted by Amanda
Today was our last day in San Juan. We started by walking to the Fort of San Cristobel. This was the fort built to protect Old San Juan from land attacks. Puerto Rico was a valuable port--hence the name--for the Spanish because it was essentially the gateway to the southern part of the New World. The trade winds would bring ships by Puerto Rico and the Spanish could decide to let them into the New World or not. From San Cristobel there is a wall that goes to El Morro, an older fort that protected Puerto Rico from sea attacks. We decided to take one of the free, open-air trolleys rather than walk in the very hot sun.
Through these visits we learned that Puerto Rico was attacked many times and these forts combined with the one on a nearby island protected it almost every time. They lost once to the British but because the British let their animals into the main areas of the fort, their water got tainted. The British all died of dysentery and the Spanish reclaimed the area, keeping the animals away. Of course the Spanish were finally defeated by the US and Puerto Rico has been with us ever since. Interestingly, both forts were used in WWII. And, there was a high percentage of Puerto Rican soldiers in the Korean War because the government thought they'd fight better in the Korean climate. At San Cristobel they have one particular sentry box that is so solitary in its location that it was called the devil's box. The devil could come take you from there without anyone knowing.
We wandered into town back to the Cathedral of San Juan since we somehow missed Ponce de Leon's grave the first time.
We were directed to a lunch counter where I got mofongo with yucca (I think that is what he said it was) instead of mashed green plantains. The yucca forms a volcano like structure with chicken and sauce inside. It was quite good. Noah had the onion fish. Both came with tasty beans and rice and sweet plantains.
The guide at El Morro recommended we visit the Gate of San Juan. It was the primary entrance for the city. The gate led to a lovely walk by the ocean. There were also tons of cats around. We had seen one in the depths of El Morro too. The park service has taken to catching them, fixing them, then relasing them. They made me miss Julian and Fenway. Much of the walk that heads along the coast to El Morro was closed but the opposit way was open. It was hot as the sun reflected off the ocean on our right side and radiated off the city wall on our left but incredibly beautiful. We ended at a huge fountain t hat was created to represent the aspects of Puerto Rico.
As the day wound down, we stopped at a food cart for beef wrapped in mashed potatoes then deep fried. In the end it was too much fried food to finsih, but still tasty. We said goodbye to Puerto Rico and headed to the ship.