// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red), where I've stayed a month or more (yellow), and where I plan to go (white). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.
SAN JUAN I took an overnight ferry from the Dominican Republic to San Juan, the colonial era capital of the small island of Puerto Rico. San Juan is the third oldest city founded in the Americas by the Europeans. It was established by the Spanish in 1521. The US took control of Puerto Rico in 1898, following the Spanish-American War. In 1917 Puerto Ricans were made US citizens (and still are today) though Puerto Rico itself has never been given statehood, meaning they have no representation in the federal government. Whether it will become a state, or even become an independent country, is a matter of much political debate.
FORT EL MORRO On the cliffs of Old San Juan is the El Morro citadel, a fortress built in the 1500s to protect the city and now a UN World Heritage site and one of the top tourist destinations in San Juan.
PINONES Near San Juan, with a view of the city skyline, is the small fishing town of Pinones which has quite a few beautiful long beaches.
PONCE Before moving into my apartment in San Juan, where I stayed a month, I first rented a room in a guest house. While there one of the other guests wanted to rent a car and head to the opposite side of the island, so we went to Ponce, which sits on the southern shore. Ponce is the island's second largest city and was founded in 1692. It's named after the conquistador Ponce De Leon who arrived on these shores in 1508 and was greeted by the native Taíno people who called the island Borikén. Puerto Ricans will often call themselves boricuas, which is a reference to the native name of the island.
SAN GERMAN Later another friend offered to take me to the west coast of the island and on the way we stopped in the small town of San German. Though just a small typical town, it was founded in 1511 and is actually the second oldest Spanish town on the island after San Juan.
BOQUERON Our actual destination was Boqueron, a small seaside fishing village. Hanging out at the local bars, I realized this was a popular town for retired New York City cops. Puerto Ricans actually make up about 9% of New York's entire population and are often called Nuyoricans. Boqueron was fun, chatting with the cops and exploring the coast by kayak.
ARECIBO My last trip before leaving the island was to the northern shore, to a town called Arecibo, which is perhaps most famous as the home of the largest radio telescope in the world, which was showcased in the James Bond film GoldenEye, the movie Contact, and of course, the X-Files. Sadly I didn't see the telescope. But nearby Arecibo is the Tanama River and some nice waterfalls.
CUEVA DEL INDIO Also near Arecibo is the Cueva Del Indio (Cave of the Indian) which is a beautiful tidal cave where water rushes in through circular holes. It also has some ancient petroglyphs from the native Taino people (see below). The Taino lived on several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Cuba. Eventually through assimilation and inter-marriage they were completely absorbed into the new emergent Caribbean culture which was a mix of the Taino, Africans brought as slaves, and Europeans. This was my final stop before leaving Puerto Rico and returning to the US for a short visit after nearly two years away in Latin America. How time flies.