Thursday, July 24, 2008

Old San Juan


Here are the pictures related to Calle del Cristo with the Cathedral, the Sweet Street (don't recall the real name)right in front of the Cathedral on the left of the small plaza, the Limbers shop with a bougenvillea for shade, and La Puerta de San Juan which I will write about tomorrow.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Just Visiting

Well, I have found a routine that seems to be working for me. My apartment here in Isla Verde, has only one flaw; it gets hot in the afternoons. Sweltering hot. So I have decided that is the time for watermelon, a drive in an air conditioned car, and/or to go to the pool. I can't explain it but this swimming thing is really good. Not only is it good for the heat but also for my health. Today I swam eight long laps after driving through Old San Juan, which was absolutely everything I remembered it to be.

Remember I have set out to see Old San Juan several times on this trip and for some reason never making it? Driving through it from the top, the usual: passing San Cristobal Castle on my right, and making a right to go up the steep hill in to see the pedestrian entrance to the Castle, and then curve in front of La Perla, seeing the thick fortified walls of the city on the way, gliding pass the the old cemetary, and reaching El Morro, which no longer is what it used to be when I was raising my children, then up behind the old Fort Brooke Army Hospital, to La Iglesia San Jose, down past Ben and Jerry's, a very historical site, ha, down to the corner of La Capilla del Cristo.

No, no, not today. I did not follow my customary route. I made a right hand turn right in front of the Catedral de San Juan, the San Juan Cathedral. Down one of the sweetest streets in town. Trees on both sides of the street form a canopy that protects all pedestrians regardless of citizenship all the way down the street to La Puerta de San Juan. At the Puerta de San Juan, you can make a right, which takes you close to the Rogativa Statue, and to the Limbers store.

Limbers are a special treat in town. I know the prices have gone up, but I am ready to pay for them, especially if they are de coco or coconut. Tamarindo comes in a nice second, but when you are hot, there is nothing a like a limber. Basically a limber is a frozen flavored ice cube. Or at least that was their humble beginning and the most common way to make them at home. But Limbers have come of age. Now you make the coconut ones with Coco Lopez, water, and a plastic cup. They seem to last longer than a piragua because they are frozen solid. I didn't stop today, because, well it's not a drive through you know. You have to walk, so tomorrow I plan to park in Ballaja, in front of the Iglesia San Jose, and walk down in front of El Convento Hotel, and make the trek in front of La Puerta de San Juan and head for the Limbers place. Tonight, I might go ahead and make some limbers here, too. Just for old times sake.

Back to the route though. Once passed the Limbers, you can make a right and go up the street back to the Catheral directly in front of you, and with the Children's Museum directly to my right. It worked out well, so tomorrow, I will go back and take pictures. So I went down the street, saw La Capilla del Cristo. Wished I could go to El Parque de las Palomas, The Pigeons Park, and then made a left on the corner with La Fortaleza to my right, all the time pointing out all these different things to my mom, who is recalling how she had lived in Old San Juan, with la familia Lastra, and how she and two girlfriends had been chased by three sailors and slipped through the big wooden doors just in the nick of time.

Old San Juan is like that, each time you go with someone, each person has their own story to tell as if they had been the only ones to walk through it. And all our stories come back to us on cue. So we kept going down the the street passing the old stores and the new stores in their place, the multicolored tiles, the mosaics on the door posts, the black metal balconies, the Spanish lampposts, the adoquines making your tires gallop and slide, and El Siglo Viente. And there before you know it, you are in front of El Teatro Tapia, and you are out almost into Puerta de Tierra and on your way home. Except I turned around at the Capital Building and went down Teatro Tapia, singing La tierra de Borinquen donde he nacido yo... and mom joined me singing the last line of the Puerto Rican anthem and Carmen in the back saying she enjoyed hearing us sing. No one outside our car knowing it was a most Patriotic Moment as we went pass Felisa's parking lot and made a left at the Post Office and saw no cruise ships, since it was Monday, and quietly headed home.