Up at 3:30 am, and on the road to the airport by 4:20. It’s a brutal way to start the day. We had previously secured TSA pre-check and “Trusted Traveler” statuses, which means we didn’t have to take our shoes off at security. Worth it or not, the jury is still out.
The flights to Atlanta and then PR were uneventful, except that we flew first class by virtue of frequent flyer miles. We were treated REALLY well by the crew, wined, dined, and I got to watch 2 movies that had been on my list, The Foreigner (Jackie Chan), and The Shape of Water. Foreigner was ok, but Shape of Water was terrific. I highly recommend it.
We didn’t know what to expect flying into Puerto Rico. It has only been six months since hurricane Maria, a category five storm, ravage the island. I had called ahead in January to our bed-and-breakfast to make sure that things were up and running. Our host had assured us that the old city had all services restored. As we flew over the island on our landing approach it appeared that at least a quarter of the houses had blue roofs. I later learned that those “roofs” were really tarps covering houses that had not yet been fully repaired. Areas of the central island remain without power.
We had arranged for a transport service to drive us from the airport to Casa del Sol, our B&B in Old San Juan. Our accommodations are charming and very old world. No surprise since these walls that surround our room are over 250 years old! Our host, Eddie, spent about 30 minutes with us and a map, marking sites for us to visit over the next three days, all within walking distance. He also provided us with recommendations for dining and entertainment, highlighting places that attract the locals.
Eddie gave us some insight into the frustrations that the people of Puerto Rico face in their campaign to rebuild their island. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. People born in Puerto Rico are United States citizens. However, the territory operates under someone usual constraints. Most significant of these is the Jones Act. Passed in 1917, granted citizenship to those persons born on and after 1898. It also established government on the island. The Jones Act also prohibits non-US flagged vessels from delivering goods to PR. Foreign merchandise can arrive on the island, provided that it first reaches the United States and is transferred to a US flag vessel. This inserts another “middleman“ into the stream of commerce and increases the cost of living significantly. In the case of hurricane Maria, PR was denied foreign assistance and aid that other countries were willing to deliver. In spite of these frustrations we have found everyone to be welcoming and friendly.
It appears that there will be plenty to keep us busy in Old San Juan for the next three days. We will not need a car as everything is within easy walking distance, including the docks where we will depart by ship for Spain on Tuesday.
I have included pictures from our Flight into Puerto Rico, our B&B, and some random sights from our walk through old San Juan. Enjoy!
Peace Everyone! Pete