Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rich Port: A History Lesson

We're so happy to be here!  The Condado Vanderbilt is so upscale, it's crazy!  Usually if hotel personnel greet us outside the main lobby, it's to shoo us down the street.  Here, we were welcomed with warm greetings, and champagne! (We didn't bite, but only because we didn't know if it was complimentary, and we were too timid, and happy enough without it, to ask)!  Housekeeping visits twice per day, with treats.  Not typically our experience!

The capital city, we're noticing all kinds of beauty, and history.

I really didn't know much about Puerto Rico when we started considering it as a winter destination...maybe you'll learn something, too - thanks to online resources and brochures for help with this:

Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico in 1493, and, due to the gold in the river, it was soon named Puerto Rico, or "rich port". It became a Spanish colony and eventually an important military outpost.

The island began to produce cattle, sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, which led to the importation of African slaves. The bloodlines and culture, as a result, evolved through a mixing of the Spanish, African, and Indian races that shared the island.

There were many unsuccessful attempts by the French, Dutch, and English to conquer the island over the years. To guard against this, the Spanish constructed the many forts we plan to visit in the coming days!  Puerto Rico remained an overseas province of Spain until the Spanish-American war, when U.S. forces invaded the island in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico (along with Cuba, the Philippines and Guam) to the U.S. At time, it's sugar crop was primary.

The U.S. Navy purchased two thirds of the island to use as a naval base during World War II, and continued to use the area for military exercises until a civilian was killed during a bombing exercise in the 1990s. There was outrage and protests, and the base closed in 2003. This area now serves as wildlife reserves.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans received U.S. citizenship and, in 1952, the country became a U.S. Commonwealth.  To this day, apparently, it's status is debated.

Some favor statehood, others favor independence, and still others want to continue as is, with the commonwealth status.  San Juan seems like a happy place, and as long as they keep the fish tacos so delicious, like these below, it really doesn't matter to this little tourist.

Sitting at one of the 6 hotel bars:  Tacos and Tequila




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