Puerto Rico

How to visit the Caribbean without leaving the United States? Well one way is by spending a weekend in Puerto Rico, a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States. The chief of state is the President of the United States of America. The head of government is an elected Governor. While there are some who wish to be fully independent from the United States thankfully that's still a minority. Most want either the status quo or actual statehood. I'm for the former, why ruin a good thing. Not much left from the group that stormed the capital and shot up Congress. The major differences between Puerto Rico and the 50 states are its local taxation system and exemption from Internal Revenue Code and the ineligibility of Puerto Ricans to vote in presidential elections. I wonder how many citizens of the other fifty states would be willing to trade their voting rights to escape the clutches of the Internal Revenue? Oh, another difference of course is that every one here speaks Spanish. 

My reason for coming to Puerto Rico was two fold. I had vacation credits burning a hole in my pocket and some frequent flyer miles with nowhere to go plus I could use a head start on summer. After a strange 5-day heat wave on the East coast the weather turned cold. There was even some reports of snow which made me scream for some moderate weather. Connecticut may have some very nice homes but the weather in that part of the country made me long for California which knows when winter stops and spring begins except when it's Indian Summer then it also gets confused.

I found myself turning to The Weather Channel hoping that my weekend stay would have good weather. I shouldn't have worried. The weather was beautiful with temperature in the mid 80s and humidity that was still bearable. Something that wouldn't be the case in Summer. As I stated earlier I was towards the tail-end of a project in Stamford, CT. and decided to stop off in Puerto Rico on the way home.

I used my American Frequent Flyer miles and my Hilton Honors points and found an Embassy Suites in Dorado Del Mar. One of the advantages of HHonors is the fact they they have so many choices of hotels including, Hilton, Homewood Suites, Hampton Suites and Embassy Suites amongst others.  You're bound to find something somewhere that you can use. 

The Embassy Suites has always been one of my favorites as every room is a suite that comes with a refrigerator and a microwave instead of some stupid mini-bar. Plus there's free breakfast and a Happy Hour with free drinks every evening. They all have pools and this particular location comes with a golf course, a beautiful pool area and its own private beach. Though of course private beaches are frowned on by the government but with all of the obstacles it's not easy to get to if you are not a resident. Which reminds me of a place near Stamford that also wanted to keep their beachfront private but were overruled by the courts. Their remedy was to provide a half-dozen parking spots and charge close to $30 for the privilege. Not exactly the epitome of neighborliness. Still all in all I couldn't complain since the room came free of charge. The hotel also had a number of activities to keep the guests ammused.

One of the major attractions in Puerto Rico is the old city of San Juan.  Originally the whole island was called "San Juan Bautista", for St. John the Baptist and the town Puerto Rico because of its obvious excellent potentialities. It was not until later that the two names were switched. Thanks in part to the enthusiasm of ambitious Juan Ponce de León,  a lieutenant with Columbus, the city of Puerto Rico ("rich port") quickly became Spain's most important military outpost in the Caribbean. Concerned about potential threats from European enemies and recognizing the strategic importance of Puerto Rico, Spain began constructing massive defenses around San Juan. The construction of San Felipe del Morro Castle began. The fort featured 18-foot-thick walls; San Cristóbal and San Geronimo Forts also garrisoned troops. Next the Spaniards constructed a wall, parts of which still survive, around the entire city. 

Puerto Rico
View from hotel balcony