journalist traveling the world, uncovering one hidden gem at a time

Journal: Feb. 16 – San Juan, PR

Castillo San Felipe del Morro is magnificent under the burning, afternoon sun. The ocean is a turquoise blue near the short with small white caps. There are lush rolling valleys framing the fortress. It nearly looks like a palace or expensive estate. In the lush valleys, the ocean picks up speed and whips my mane into the breeze. My mane has finally adjusted to those island tangles. A gentleman prays for his kite to take flight in the blustery breeze, but it instead falls and cartwheels to the ground. Over the edge of the weathered fortress, lies a cemetery with a large domed building sitting as sentry.

Over the edge of the weathered fortress, lies a cemetery with a large domed building sitting as sentry. Cemeteries are much prettier in Puerto Rico. They honor the dead with monuments celebrating their lives. Bright foliage grows around the tombs.

A man dressed in all black with bright turquoise hat stands in the cobblestone roundabout in front of the fort. He yells at pedestrians beckoning them to hail a taxi. He exclaims that it’s hot — 95 degrees — and that the walk is long back to the city center. The only reply he hears are the seagull caws.

Before making my way to the fort, this morning I embarked on a mission to explore the narrow cobblestone streets of Viejo San Juan. I meandered towards the harbor where the cruise ships docked and stumbled upon my own mini oasis. A terracotta fountain bubbled next to a rod iron gate as tropical foliage spew through the bars and crept over the fence. A tropical canopy shaded the pebble path below. I sat alone with the geckos and lizards. The small garden snaked towards the bay adjacent to the cruise docks. This bay was home to the local fisherman that steered rickety boats named after a lover. A small group of tourists stood by and cheered as the fisherman tossed leftovers to the fish below. The water erupted with splashes as the fish emerged to devour their breakfast. Further down the windy path, kitties meowed at a passerby for scraps. The stench of the cats made parts of the trail rank.

The paved trail was filled with ocean vistas that filled the horizon. I slowly trekked towards El Morro hoping to get a glimpse of the giant I had partially witnessed last night in the moonlight.

1:11 p.m. at Poet’s Passage

It’s a little homage to broken writers like me — writers who have persisted even with critics cursing their name and the work they pour blood sweat and tears into. The front bay window is framed by vines intertwined with each other and the electrical cords that illuminate the open sign. Bright LED Christmas lights are strung in slanted and sagging loops. Nearby a wall is plastered with page ripped from a dictionary.

Quirky decor flows through the azul colored place to the back where there’s a room full of chairs in a half circle around a microphone. This is where my fellow creators and myself have a voice. A time to share with other battered egos and learn from each other. To bask in what we all love — the art of language.

Across the cafe, there’s a small shop which sells prints of some poets one line hit me and was hypnotic.

“Silence is a tender syrup that will provide peace when you need it.”

It struck me to the core.


I then ventured into the colorful kaleidoscope they call Viejo San Juan. The stucco exuded different bright hues while their doors are an equally bright hue. Some colors are sister colors on the color wheel, other combinations are off the wall, yet have an island enchantment to them. The streets are what get their section of San Juan its name. They’re strictly made of cobblestone and are narrow — sometimes so narrow a single car has problems squeaking by. In certain areas, the cobblestone has a blue hue to match the Atlantic Ocean that stands guard nearby.

After an afternoon of exploring the nooks and crannies of Viejo San Juan, I cruised to a different part of San Juan. I stationed myself in Ocean Park — unironically only two blocks from the beach. The afternoon I spent lounging under a palm tree and jumping into the Atlantic’s high surf.

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