Joie de Vivre

The Old San Juan

Jim and Beverly in old San Juan

We spent 8 days on Puerto Rico, and it was wonderful. Here are a few key moments, aside from the big one. We rented an AirBNB in Condado, San Juan. It was a block from the ocean, and walking distance to a lot of restaurants, shops and other hotels.

I think Old San Juan was my favorite – we visited several times, and walked for miles through the city. It’s like a combination of New Orleans and San Fransisco, only much older than both. San Juan is the oldest city in the country, founded in 1521 (St. Augustine was founded in 1565). In particular, Castillo San Cristobal captured my piratey imagination.

We had a lot of outdoor fun. Aside from walking for many miles to forts, bookstores and various beaches, we went kayaking and hiked in a rain forest. While there was no rain is said forest, there was a pretty cool rope swing into a watering hole.

One day, we rented a car, and drove to the south of the island. I stuck a toe in the Caribbean sea, and we walked around Ponce. It seemed… slow, either because of COVID or maybe the last hurricane. There was a magnificent fountain in the center of the square, and I have a theory that it’s the actual “Fountain of Youth” that Ponce de Leon was searching for.

We left Ponce and headed for Arecibo.

Somehow, we got off 10 and ended up on 123, a nauseating winder of a road. Along the way, we found the most beautiful cemetery.

In Arecibo, we found a magical beach where waves hit the rocks and made huge plumes of white spray. It’s by the lighthouse.

The weather was wonderful, the ocean was warm, and the nights on our balcony were delightful.

I love ceviche and I love empanadas. I grew up eating both, and I had more of the former this trip, including some not in the photos below.

One thing I don’t want to forget – I was called “papi” by younger men several times on the trip. I thought they were calling me “old man.” And, well, this 18 year old was, but we googled it, and here’s what came up:

Papi is a colloquial term for “daddy” in Spanish, but in many Spanish-speaking cultures, particularly in the Caribbean, it is often used as a general term of affection for any man, whether it’s a relative, friend, or lover. The English “baby,” used as a term of endearment for spouses and children alike, is similar.

It was a wonderful trip, and I look forward to going back sometime.