Nearly every time we travel to Puerto Rico we seem to end up at the historic forts in old San Juan. Our visit on the Carnival Magic was no exception. At least that was the intention anyway. Some of the group we traveled with had not been there before so everything was new to them. Our 5-year-old Australian grandson loves cats so we planned to look for them on the walk to El Morro, then either take the free tram or walk to San Cristobal on the way back to the ship.
From the ship we headed through town to the Paseo de la Princesa, which at some point changes to Paseo del Morro. This seaside pathway runs along the shore line from near the cruise ship docks to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, otherwise known as El Morro.
It passes by several of old town’s attractions including the Raices Fountain and the Red Gate. The Red Gate is the last remaining gate in what’s left of the historical wall that once encircled the entire city, which has long since outgrown that boundry. There’s a lot of ancient walled cities and forts around the world that are tourist attractions now. Even the Great Wall of China is currently a tourist attraction. There’s a sign in one of the displays at El Morro that says people stopped walling themselves in when the technology of the times made walls obsolete as a means of protection. I don’t remember the date on that, but it was over a century ago and long before the invention of airplanes.
Before reaching the sea we found a playground next to the path where the kids had a great time until a policeman came along and said they couldn’t play there while the ground was wet from an earlier rain. None of the playground equipment was wet and they weren’t playing on the ground, but I suppose he has rules to enforce. Probably afraid of a lawsuit. Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA after all even though the government did seem to want to forget that when it came to hurricane relief and repairs.
The paseo is home to many of San Juan’s feral cats. The cats have probably been there since the first ships landed on Puerto Rico’s shores, or at least sometime early in its history after contact by people from Europe. The cats have lots of rocks and vegetation to hide in. Once there were so many some people wanted to exterminate them, but Save A Gato stepped in with their trap/neuter/release program. They adopt out any cats that they can. They have feeding stations along the pathway for the unadoptable ones they release so we knew we would see plenty of cats if we took that walkway to the fort. We were there before hurricane Maria. Wondering if the cats survived the storm, I looked it up and found that Save A Gato brought as many as they could to shelter. Former pets left behind as their owners fled the storm joined the ranks of cats for Save A Gato to care for or re-home in the hurricane’s aftermath.
We saw the first cat of the day before even arriving at the entrance to the Paseo de la Princesa. Some of the feral cats will wander through town, and some of the people there have pet cats too. Daniel just loves cats, but does not have one for a pet at home so he was thrilled to have a chance to see some.
On our last visit we saw diving pelicans from that walkway, but this time we just saw a couple of them sitting on the city wall and neither made any effort to fly off the wall, let alone dive. We did find a little hermit crab on the path though and moved it to a safer place off the walkway. And of course we saw plenty of cats.
We found cats sunning themselves on the walkway, cats hiding in the bushes, cats at the feeding station, and even one that followed us for awhile. It was kind of like hide and seek with the cats hiding and us seeking them in the rocks and bushes along the pathway.
Last time the path only went partway to El Morro before coming to an area closed for restoration. This time though scaffolding could still be seen along the pathway in some places, the walkway was open all the way to the fort. Part of it may even have been new. We stopped off to view the graveyard where Ponce de Leon is buried before going toward the entrance to the fort.
We saw some small lizards and some iguanas on the way to the fort, but right out there in front of it we found the biggest iguana of all. This one had a big ruff under his chin that he liked to puff out before shaking his head about. He climbed up the wall with ease and chased away the lesser iguanas.
After touring El Morro we were all hot and tired and nobody felt like walking to San Cristobol. The free shuttle wasn’t running that day. The city was in the process of setting up for some sort of major event and a lot of the streets that weren’t closed were pretty well clogged with traffic.
We walked back through town where the colorful buildings with fancy doors are always interesting to see, as are the blue brick roads.
On the way back our older grandson, Justin, discovered how much closer San Cristobol is to the cruise ship dock. He wondered why we didn’t just go there, but we’d have missed the cat walk if we had and to Daniel the cats were the highlight of the port.
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