On Travel Tuesdays I’m going to try posting about my experience as a foreigner living in Norway and my travels, beginning with my lovely home island Puerto Rico. Culture is different everywhere, and I’m amazed at all of the differences every time I travel somewhere new, or even go back to my roots.
As some of you might already know, I’m an American, born in The Bronx, New York and moved to Puerto Rico at the age of 10. The culture in Puerto Rico in itself is a blend of American and Spanish.
Puerto Rico is a tiny island in the Caribbean, originally inhabited by the native Taíno indians. They called the island “Borinquen,” which means “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. The island is also popularly known in Spanish as “la isla del encanto”, meaning “the island of enchantment”. When Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493, he named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, while the capital city was named Ciudad de Puerto Rico (“Rich Port City”). Later on, the island became Puerto Rico and the capital San Juan.
Puerto Rico is a territory or a commonwealth of the United States. Spanish is still the main spoken language, even after the United States won the island in the Spanish-American war in 1898 (and the Treaty of Paris). Of my knowledge so far, my great-great-grandmother moved to Puerto Rico from Spain.
Although I have traveled the world with both the U.S. Army and myself afterwards, Puerto Rico still and will always be my home. It’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world (in my opinion), but it also needs a little TLC and the economy to grow right now.
Now enough of history and facts, and into the top 5 things to do while visiting Puerto Rico!
1) San Juan and Old San Juan
There is San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico and Old San Juan, a UNESCO world heritage site. Old San Juan is one of my favorite places in the world, with its colored historic buildings and centuries-old cobblestone streets. In Old San Juan is also the wonderful castle El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal.
The only tropical rain forest in the United States and it’s BEAUTIFUL!
3) Other islands of Puerto Rico – Vieques and Culebra
If you want to have a few days of simply relaxing by the beach and/or snorkeling, I highly recommend these two islands. From them you can also take a Bioluminescent Bay Kayak tour.
4) Ponce and the Museum of Art in Ponce
Museo de Arte de Ponce is the finest art museum in Puerto Rico and the largest in the Caribbean. It was the first museum in Puerto Rico accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and it is now one of my favorite museums.
5) Arecibo Observatory
For all of you space lovers (like myself), this is a radio telescope and was the largest telescope in the world until China developed one larger in 2016. It is used in three major areas of research: radio astronomy, atmospheric science, and radar astronomy, and it has been featured in films “Contact” and “James Bond movie “Golden Eye.” If heading there from San Juan, you can stop by the beautiful Cueva Ventana on the way.
There is much more to see, including Rincón for surfers. I’m sure I’ll get around to writing more about Puerto Rico. Until then, happy travels and wishing you a great week!