Thursday, August 23, 2012

OSJ - Part Tres

Convinced to go to Puerto Rico yet? If not, this final post will surely seal the deal for ya. In case you missed any parts of this fab trip, here's part uno and part dos.

So I left off with that hill that we had to brave, just to inch a little closer to the fort. We made our way up that treacherous hill . . . only to find more hills. It was worth it though - at least that's what I kept telling myself as sweat dripped poured off of me (gross, sorry not sorry).

We walked right into Plaza de Colon - a bustling area with many restaurants, bars, shops, etc.



Truckin' on, we passed this. I think it may have been a casino at some point. Then again, I could be totally wrong. Just beyond that is actually an Olympic training facility of sorts.


Reaching this, we had tough decisions to make - a shorter distance up those hills I mentioned, or right, with no hills but a farther distance? We chose left. We're gluttons for punishment.

I went to school in West Virginia so hills are no stranger to me. This does NOT mean they're near and dear to my heart. There's some incline action for ya below. The whole time I was channeling all of the gorgeous people in Puerto Rico as I made the hike, hoping I'd look like them once I made it to the top. I didn't. Hopes and dreams crushed - whatevs.

The view from the top!



Finally! Castillo San Cristobal.










We went up to the top of the fort, but didn't do the tour - I had wanted to and will definitely do so when I go back. Next, we moved on to the next portion of the fort seen here.




Alex was totally taking in all the surroundings. The coolest (temperature wise) we had felt all day was probably right here.

This little town of sorts looked fairly interesting, at least to Al and myself.



Another potential home sale - you know, for after I graduate? Yea right.

Moving on, we saw this beautiful basketball court. What a view, right?

It was apparently dedicated by Carmelo Anthony.


Walking past the basketball court, we saw that little town again. We made it to a set of steps that seemed to lead down to the town. The steps were being guarded by the hottest female police officer ever. Seriously. She was hawt. Everyone is gorgeous there. I'm telling you. 

It was almost as though there was an unspoken vibe between Al and I that we both wanted to venture down there. It was being guarded though? Red flags much? So we asked her, "Could we go down there?" She seemed puzzled, like why would we want to go down there? She said it was cool though. So Al and I started making our way down. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some unspoken tension between us - like this was something we probably shouldn't be doing. Al and I are adventurous gals though, so we did it. Together. We're the type that likes to see it all on vacay, returning home exhausted and enriched. 

First thing we saw. Not too sketchy.

A taekwondo house. Still okay.

Then this.

And these. Dirty hens are a sure-fire sign of ick. Crazy, squawking, dirty chickens = ick and unnerving. We kept walking a bit, and stumbled upon an extremely sketchy man. We both decided to high-tail it back up the steps. We rounded the corner and three men dressed entirely in black were facing us. Thoughts crossed my mind like, "It's possible that I may not make it out of Puerto Rico." (After discussing the day's events with Al, she agreed the same thoughts crossed her mind.)

Turns out they were police officers. Beautiful, strapping police officers. They introduced themselves, one in English and the others in Spanish. They were extremely friendly and offered to walk with us and give us the down-right dirty tour of La Perla. (Totally didn't google La Perla until that evening, finding out then that it's the ghetto of San Juan, literally. The bartender at our hotel asked us if we were crazy. Maybe we were.)

The police officers are extremely respected in Puerto Rico. Thank goodness for that female officer at the top of the steps - she probably tipped off the male officers to come find us, and without her we probably wouldn't have gotten a VIP tour with some beautiful men for two hours! First, they took us down to the shore line to show us La Perla in it's entirety. 

It was at this point that I was so thankful for those officers. I felt safe. SO safe and fortunate for this opportunity and view.

Al totally geeking out with excitement.

They explained to us that this area is ablaze with people on Friday and Saturday nights. There were all kinds of Bible verses grafittied on the walls in spray paint. Such a neat area.

How'd ya like to skateboard here . . . with this view?


Making our way through the town, the officers showed us the dirty and not-so-diry areas. La Perla is essentially where the extremely impoverished locals live. And yes, people actually still live in this area despite its desolate and abandoned appearance. Through it all, you could tell that the officers had a huge sense of pride. They had been born and bred in San Juan and love it. Love it wholeheartedly. 

This view is brought to you by the third story of a home. The officers helped us onto the roof of this home where I got the best view in the city. 


Check out these steps.

The roof where we stood.

And looking down from it.


We finally made it near the end of La Perla - the view from the opposite end.

We also saw some brave surfers - the wind was crazy at this point.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro.



We walked through the underground tunnel to find this.

We parted ways with our officers and thanked them from the bottom of our hearts for their time. We stumbled upon 'ol Abe. The school in OSJ is apparently named Escuela Abraham Lincoln - interesting?

At this point, it was around 3:30 in the afternoon and we were tired exhausted. We purchased the most expensive lemonade, chugged it, and ventured back to Plaza Colon for lunch. After stuffing our faces with delicious food, we made our way back to the bus station. We were sad to leave OSJ, but were so grateful for a beautiful day. Pigeons, sweat, officers and all.


Fun trip, no? I'm so going back.

-Suze

4 comments:

  1. Such great pictures. I've been to Old San Juan during a cruise hop and it was amazing. Reminds of of some fun times :)

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    1. Definitely some fun times there :)

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  2. Found your post through a google search and love it! You are so lucky, I wanted a tour of La Perla soooo bad but my sister wouldn't let me venture in much, we came in through the end part (walking down the tunnel and passing the cemetery. We took a few pictures but didn't venture in).

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it! It was definitely scary, but SO worth it!

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