Our ship sailed as quickly as it could, but it was 4pm before we arrived at our first port San Juan. On the sail in we had a great vantage point to admire El Morro, the huge Spanish fort that protected this harbor for hundreds of years without firing a shot. Although much looked familiar, construction cranes punctuated the skyline and we could see the new convention center was finally finished. The port area has added additional docks so we were one of four ships in town today.
If we had never been here before, I would have been frustrated by this short visit, but we had enough time to visit old friends in the downtown area. Ken stopped by the fake Rolex vendors to see if he could add another quality time piece to his vast collection. The Butterfly People was a required stop as anyone who has seen the wall in our living room covered with their lucite cases of butterflies in flight can understand. I was sorely tempted, but our walls are full. We went to the central square which features lights of the holiday. No one seems to be too worried about being politically correct in terms of subject matter chosen. Old San Juan is paved with the blue ballast stones that the Spanish conquistadors used for ballast many years ago and some of our fellow passengers who are quite unsteady un their feet struggled to stay erect and generally clogged up the narrow alleyways.
We skipped dinner (do you believe it?) to drive to the Old San Juan Hotel, a classic from by gone days that is still in great condition and commands hefty room tariffs. There we attended a Latin tradition show put on just for the ship's passengers. A man about our age played an amazing guitar in a variety of different latin styles and lusted after the young dancers who twirled around him. Judging by their statuesque physiques I would guess they also perform at the review which is even more scantily attired. It was a real treat to have the opportunity to enjoy the night life of San Juan. Generally cruise ships dock during the day and peel out at 6pm so they can open the casinos. In a vibrant city such as this the evening activities are an important part of the culture.
When we returned to the ship a party we could hear the noise from the party on deck that was in full throttle under the stars. The staff handed out leis (wrong locations\?) and hugh palm fronds over all the railings. A great way to end our first day in the tropics.