One of the highlights on our cruise out of Miami was our first stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have always wanted to visit the island, especially after I was supposed to go for a work trip that ended up being unceremoniously cancelled. We didn’t dock until late in the afternoon, so that left us with a few hours to wander around before we found a local restaurant for dinner. Per usual, we waited for the rush of people to exit the ship before making our way out, and we headed directly for the San Felipe del Morro Fortress.Built to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, this fort became a part of the National Park System in 1961 after the U.S. Army officially retired it from use. Driveways were removed and green space added to restore the area to it’s original state. Luckily, the late afternoon sun in March wasn’t as hot, so we could enjoy going through the entire fort.
On our way back, I discovered one of my favorite views of this port happened to include the Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzi, a cemetery from 1863 that overlooks the ocean. Due to an interest in genealogy and a love of history, I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries, and this one was no exception. Seeing the Spanish influence in the monuments with the backdrop of the ocean on a beautiful day is one of the reasons I love to travel; a picture hardly does it justice.
We capped off our visit with some of the best mofongo I’ve ever had at Cafe Puerto Rico before heading back to the ship. It’s hard to imagine right now, but the entirety of Puerto Rico is currently without power thanks to another hurricane this season. I’m hoping for blue skies to return soon, like in the pictures above.
The last major hurricanes to threaten the Texas coast did so while I lived in Waco. In the panic of hurricane Rita, which developed shortly after the destruction of Katrina, the entire city of Houston and surrounding areas attempted to evacuate at once. As you might have imagined, that did not go well. It took my family over twenty four hours to get to my apartment, normally a three hour drive.
Three years later when Ike was threatening to make a direct hit on Houston, they made the same drive in similar traffic. With both Ike and Rita, my family was lucky that the hurricanes veered east enough to spare them any major damage, but especially with Ike, a lot of damage was sustained throughout the city. I distinctly remember seeing the blue tarp “FEMA roofs” adorning so many houses when I made my first trip back, weeks after Ike had hit.
I am so glad that no mandatory evacuation was ordered for us this time. That parking lot of cars you see above from the Rita evacuation? They would all be completely underwater. So many people would have died.
I described Harvey as a “zombie hurricane” on Friday, and that description has been pretty accurate, as he is still a tropical storm and is lingering along the coast. After devastating the city of Rockport, north of Corpus Christi, he is now devastating Houston with rain. The rain won’t stop, and it’s not going to for days. We have been extremely fortunate that we have only lost water pressure for a few hours, but never lost electricity, and only have a water leak in the drywall by our window. So many others have not been as lucky. One of my coworkers has lost absolutely everything.
If you are able to spare more than your thoughts and prayers for everyone here who has been through what is being described as the biggest U.S. flood storm of all-time, you can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, or donate to the Houston Flood Relief Fund, organized by the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. Anything will help. It’s still raining, and the flood waters are not finished with the city yet.