Bob's photograph of a Guard Tower
The 500 year old forts are punctuated by these Guard Towers that are the quintessential Puerto Rican image
Thanks to our Puerto Rican friends David and Lizzette, Bob and I spent two glorious weeks in Puerto Rico recently. They live in San Juan and have a condo that overlooks the Seven Seas Beach and the Nature Reserve on the east coast of the island, in Fajardo. We decided to spend some time first in Old San Juan, at the historic Hotel El Convento at the beginning of our trip and had time for dinner with them and surprisingly, with friends Janet and George from Phoenix who just happened to be there at the same time (thanks Facebook!).
Bob took so many photos it's impossible to show all of them here, but here's a brief slide show of some of my favorites:
A street in Old San Juan - These next two should be seen side by side.
We explored the Old City, its 500 year old forts and skillfully designed museums and enjoyed, in spite of the heat and humidity, walking around the colorful streets and markets and eating the freshest seafood. Then, for a entire week, we stayed in Fajardo and only one day did we spend in the car driving down the coast as far as Guayamo to see its Spanish Colonial architecture, stopping in some of the little towns along the way and devouring the most delicious Red Snapper we had ever tasted at a restaurant with the most incredible views down to the sea.
The beaches were all that crystal blue/turquoise/aqua that you might expect from a tropic island and a good deal of our time was spent lounging in the water, snorkeling, soaking, swimming and generally relaxing. The snorkeling was fun and we did see some tropical fish and a starfish, but suspected we needed to swim further out to the reef for better views but weren't up to the challenge! I did my share of watercolor journaling and below are pages from my journals I'd like to share with you.
La Concha, with a private beach at Condado in San Juan is a sister hotel to El Convento, so we were able to use the pool and private beach there one day
We visited El Yunque, the Rainforest, where we swam in an icy pool below a La Mina, one of the spectacular waterfalls, took a tour of the Las Cabezas de San Juan Natura Reserva (where we saw a huge iguana (not native and quite a pest), a night time kayak trip through mangrove forest to a Luminescent Lagoon where we experienced the most amazing sight as tiny microorganisms turned the waters into showers of blue light. Incredible!
Puerto Rico is officially known as The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - it is an unincorporated territory of the United States. It's in the Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands. Wikipedia has a pretty good history of the island so I won't go into that here. You can click on the link for more information but suffice to say, it was desirable to the Spaniards, the British and ultimately the United States because of its strategic location and navigable harbor. When Columbus arrived it was a virtual paradise. Many parts of it still are and we hope to explore more in a future visit.
The island has its problems certainly. The Europeans and Americans have left their mark. But there are so many beautiful places to visit, we have only scratched the surface and hope to return.
More pages from My Watercolor Journal of Puerto Rico:
These white flowers were growing in someones garden near one of the forts
A huge tree grows in the center courtyard of Hotel El Convento and we took advantage of complementary wine, cheese and fruit every evening on the verandas that faced the courtyard.
While we waited for our lunch, I sketched a detail in one of the restaurants at El Convento
Food we ate (and some of the restaurants in Puerto Rico where we ate)
Some of Puerto Rico's tasty snacks
Red Plants - someone told me they were Ginger Plants but I'm not so sure
Museum of the Americas (Museo de las Americas) - an absolutely stunning presentation of the Arts of the Americas - before their "discovery" by Europeans. I love to sketch items in museums.
There were so many different kind of palm trees, I couldn't sketch them all!
Plaza del Mercado - one of my favorite things to sketch - fruit and vegetables!