I wanted to put up this post last week, but I never got the energy to finish it. Things have been busy around here, to say the least! Such is life as a missionary staff member… LOTS to do, and lots of travel, and it’s all “normal”!
Yesterday was my last day in the office, and next Friday is our last day in town – how can this be?! I’m pretty bummed, but not emotional – not surprising, because I don’t get very emotional. I actually love moving, so I’ve been pretty pumped about each step of the process. It’s just that we’re in the thick of it now, so I’ve been in crazy-mode running errands, packing boxes (including at the office), doing mentally-consuming sorting tasks, and not to mention we painted over all our colored walls today. It’s so much worse and boring in here now, but it just gives me more incentive to want to get to our new place. 🙂
Anyways, enough rambling – you can see why I feel exhausted! But this post is super worth it, and I feel like I can rest after accomplishing the great task of painting today, and have since downed celebratory whiskey & coke + BOTH halves of (my last) gluten-free cheese steak. (We paid the extra $5 for delivery, and there has never been a time more worth it.)
So – without further ado: historic old San Juan.
Normally when I travel I care infinitely more about the natural wonders than the man-made ones. Puerto Rico caught me, though, and I must say I absolutely adored this city!! It was filled with more charm than ANYWHERE I’ve been before. (I can’t believe I haven’t been to any other historic cities in Latin America, besides Maracaibo!)
San Juan is cultured and feels full of Latino action, color, and movement. There is tempting cuisine everywhere, from ice cream stalls on the street to Spanish chocolate shops to Havana-style sit down restaurants with white tablecloths. It’s American too, so it’s easy to navigate; there’s always someone around to translate for you if you don’t speak Spanish, and there’s enough familiarity in the style of restaurants and surprising quietude of the city.
Besides the darling shops and delicious food, my absolute favorites were of course the green tropical plants, the cobblestone streets, and row after row of colorful buildings.
A downtown gathering place complete with courtyard fountain, people-watchers, and plenty of pigeons.
You wouldn’t even believe how much I was drooling over these streets!! I was thrilled to have my camera with me, to capture Puerto Rico in its historical, colorful richness!
We walked past this beautiful, lanky model and even I had to stop myself from staring. I love her outfit! Do you think it’s Courtney from the Bachelor?? It kind of looks like her.
We caught the tail end of a large protest of people marching against high gas prices.
We were supposed to meet up and eat lunch with the rest of our group, but there were a lot of kids and people to please, so they had chosen a place with quick sandwiches. My dad protested in favor of local fare, and I heartily agreed to help find a place with more authentic food. I’m glad I got to spend more time with just my parents, and we all loved the food we ordered. I had grilled chicken with cole slaw and plantains, my absolute FAVORITE from my time in Venezuela. The only thing missing was a side of arepas!
My dad took this exact same picture on his phone and said, “Look! I’m Sydni Gould!” The funny thing is he didn’t know I had taken this photo yet. He’s a mystery to me…
Cafe attached to the back of the restaurant. My parents ordered a couple of flans for dessert. They really liked them.
It took a long time for our food to come (45 minutes?) – then I understood why the bigger group had chosen a quicker place to eat. While we were waiting I took a short stroll around the nearby block. Oh, to have the quaint city life!
At the end of this street you can see the Caribbean peeking his head out and saying, “I’m still here! Don’t forget you’re only a few steps away from a dreamy turquoise sea! Let’s hang out later, okay?”
I’ll take all of this, please.
Lots of colorful walls and bright light beckoned for some portraits to be taken!
Unfortunately, all day we kept missing our group by just a few minutes at a time (excluding when we decided to ditch them for our own lunch plans – oops). The trip was supposed to be bookended by visits to these two famous forts. By the time we finally made it to the second one, they had just left the city to go home and rest. Boo!
We realized that none of us were that set on actually visiting the fort, and since we had walked a long way and it was so beautiful out, we decided to just sit and chill on the grassy expanse paralleling the fort and sea. So many families were out, laying on blankets or walking dogs. I pet several puppies, including a baby bulldog that was only a few weeks old. 🙂 While we were sitting I counted upwards of thirty or forty kites!
I can’t believe how long it took to get this picture! My dad was set on taking a picture of me in this doorway, and I obviously wasn’t going to argue with that. The problem was it was a busy street, and a manual focus lens. By the time my dad had the lens focused, fifteen more cars would be lined up waiting to pass. FINALLY he got the shot!!
I found this old man’s little shop when I was walking around waiting for lunch. We came back so I could purchase an old-timey photo of San Juan. I didn’t end up getting those photos for some reason, but my dad bought me a colorful painting! The perfect souvenir.
I had the best time in Puerto Rico and I hope to visit again one day… or even live there! I could see myself getting along nicely there. 🙂