Saturday, August 02, 2008

Minutes and Seconds

Last week I went to Miami to see my son with a friend who needed to go to the Spanish Consulate. From the very beginning, it seemed like our trip was going to take forever. Maria and I had to stop several times before we actually got on the road. A stop to get gas. A stop at Walgreens. A stop at the rest area. Then she left her glasses in the bathroom. You get the picture. By then she was getting exasperated, and being who I am, I replied, "What difference will a minute or two make?" Little did I know I would be getting my answer just down the road.

The road being I-95. As we neared Miami, south of Ft. Pierce, the area is much more congested and the drivers are much more intense, wild, and determined. Rain didn't help much either. Finally as we passed Ft. Lauderdale, I'm thinking goodness we are almost there, when all of a sudden the traffic stopped. Silence.

Questions go through your head of course. What is happening? Will it be a short delay? What is going on? Then one after another, sirens begin to wail, and squeeze by on the left shoulder, and huge fire trucks demand to be allowed to interject themselves on the right. We search the radio. I look at my gas gauge which is low. People are beginning to stick their heads out of their cars, vans, and pickups, especially those headed to and from the airport. A helicopter begins to circle the area. Then two more trucks with flashing lights, pass us on the left which read Severe Incident Vehicle. Now we know, if we hadn't figured it out already; something major happened up ahead. My friend next to me insists we pray, and we do for all those involved. After about twenty to twenty-five minutes, we find the answers to our questions, as we zigzag between lanes and eerily across all four as we are detoured to the exit ramp on Sheridan Ave. Five mangled cars, and numerous police and emergency vehicles.

We decide to get lunch and stay off the road for a while. Finding a nice Cuban restaurant I continue to try to reach my son, but he doesn't answer. We finish our arroz and habichuelas with fricase de pollo and set off on the road again. To add to all the anxiety, I can't get hold of my son on the phone. So I call my daughter in Rochester to see if she can reach him. While talking to her all of a sudden I heard a screeching of tires behind me to my right, and screeching for what seemed an eternity. I'm searching every where to find out where it is coming from. Then I spot the black sedan careening across all four lanes and slamming into the median just behind us. Everyone was going too fast to stop to help. Fortunately, the car didn't seem to suffer too much damage, but I know the person inside must have been shaken. I'm ashamed I didn't stop.

Minutes. Seconds. They all count. The stops, the delays, were all God-sent. I can not thank Him enough.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Numbers

How silly of me. I thought I was writing only for myself and family and really it's okay. I love to write and like many people I need to express myself, either by painting or writing. Doing one or the other helps me in verbalizing my feelings and connecting to others. But anyway, one day I realized there were other people reading my blog. More than just my family and friends. Each time I would put up a new post, invariably the numbers on my profile check would go up and I got curious. Who are they? Where are they from? What are they reading?

If you want answers to these questions you can put up a site meter on your blog (if you have one). It is very easy. Blogger provides a list of recommended site meters and the service is free. You copy and paste the HTML they provide and paste it to the new element on your page layout and viola, you are in the know.

Not too much in the know, so nobody get frightened now. It is not invasive. Simply it tells me something that blew me away! People from all over the world read my blog: Austria, Romania, Japan, Peru, Dubai, France, Brazil, Portugal, New Zealand!,the US resoundingly the top reader, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico (second highest), Colombia, etc., to name a few. Please pardon me if I didn't include your country. There are over 30 of them so far, since I started checking. It also tells me more.

What do they want to know? Funny, it all the depends on what side of the bed they woke up on. Somedays, they want to learn to play Briscas, plant orquids, know what alcapurrias are, see pictures of El Morro, El Yunque, etc., also know why they call Las Croabas, Las Croabas, and sometimes read my poems or comments about everyday life. Oh, and sometimes to see art. Literally, three people will read Orquideas y Platanos, the same day, and then not one will read it for a week. Orquideas and Platanos has been my top entry so far to my surprise.

It's fun to check. I know I will get over it, but I really have been humbled by this and of course very pleased, not to say thrilled. I love to travel and meet people, and in a sense I am being reciprocated. So Welcome to my blog and don't let the numbers bother you!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

La Puerta de San Juan

 
 


The San Juan Gate. If you look closely at the gate, you will see that part of the upper part of the gate has been filled in. While walking in El Morro there was information about the San Juan Gate which was built in 1646. At one time it had had a chapel, perhaps with some icon or religious statue, reminesce of the time when Puerto Rico was exclusively and devotely Roman Catholic. There is still a small mosaic honoring Saint John. More information on the Gate can be found on the information in the picture. The drawing depicts the gate as it looks from the bay.
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More Pictures of El Morro

 
 
 
 

There's the entrance, the lighthouse that is being repaired, a narrow staircase that goes from the main floor down to second level and a sentry post that looks like a tower.
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El Morro

 
 
 
 


It had been at least two years since I had visited El Morro with its garitas or sentry posts which overlook the ocean. There are many legends and tales associated with these sentinel posts including La Garita del Diablo, a folktale about a Spanish soldier who falls in love with a criolla maiden. Her family is very strict and didn't approve of their romance. So they secretly met until finally they decided to escape together. She went to meet him at "la garita" and they escaped together. He didn't leave anything behind and people thought he has been taken by the devil when in reality they escaped to El Yunque where they started a family. Well, at least that is what I heard when they told me the tale eons ago. In fact, I met their great great grandchildren. Just kidding. I'm ancient, but not that ancient!

Today El Morro is not quite as frightening nor mysterious. In fact it is a place no resident or tourist should miss. It has a unique history, and its rooms offer unbelievable information into those who served or were imprisoned there, including political prisoners from the 1700 to 1800's who did not believe in slavery.

Though I learn something new each time I visit, history wasn't exactly what enticed me to go. It was my desire to see the crashing waves and the deep ultramarine blue ocean just off the jutting peninsula. While overlooking the ocean, I saw seagulls hovering in the strong breeze and a pelican deligently fishing. On the ground there were lots of people enjoying the history, sitting on cannons, climbing narrow staircases, or imagining the stories of battles well fought.

Many times El Morro and the Spanish colony survived because of acts of faith or fate. One time it was General Cumberland, I believe, who actually won a battle against the Spanish soldiers, and managed to possess the island for a total of ten weeks, only to have to turn around and leave because of dysentary. Another time the Spanish were heavily outnumbered by British soldiers. The women of the town in total desperation called out to God and had the Catholic Priest lead a procession around the city walls that night. The multitude of torches held by the women appeared like a large group of soldiers to the men on the ships, and out of fear they turned their ships around and left port without shedding any blood. As a reminder of that miracle of God, they built a statue, called La Rogative up on the hill near la Puerta de San Juan. Amazing, isn't it?
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