Wednesday Wander – El Morro, San Juan

el-morro-4El Morro, or, to give it its full name, Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, is a sixteenth century fortress guarding the entrance to San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico.

el-morro-3Situated on a promontory at the entrance to the bay, the thick walls and 360 degree views give El Morro a commanding position.The fort, which is similar in design to many other Spanish forts of the era, has seen its fair share of action, including a failed attack by Sir Francis Drake in 1595. It was also the place where, in 1915, the U.S. fired their first shots in World War I, when they stopped an armed German supply ship from leaving the bay.

el-morro-2El Morro was an active fort right up until 1961, when the US military¬† withdrew and it became part of the National Park Service. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983, and was used by Stephen Spielberg as a movie set for his film, Amistad. It is now one of Puerto Rico’s leading tourist attractions, with several million visitors every year.

el-morro-1I visited El Morro a long time ago – in the intervening years, the lighthouse tower has been rendered and painted in a similar fashion to the restored archways above. I remember the fort being beautifully situated, but also a bit lonely, the weight of history in its thick walls. I hope to visit the Caribbean again one day – I’ve said before that it’s a place full of stories, and I think this old fortress would have plenty to tell.

Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!

Wednesday Wander – Magens Bay, St Thomas

Magens Bay

This is Magens Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Often appearing on lists of the top beaches in the world, this small slice of Caribbean heaven is reputed to be the place where Sir Francis Drake anchored while waiting for ships to plunder.

Nowadays, it’s a popular destination for tourist and locals on the island. It’s also the place where Edward and Bella filmed some of their honeymoon scenes in Breaking Dawn Part 1.

The Caribbean, for all its beauty, has always struck me as being a place filled with stories, not all of them pleasant. From pirates to vampires, this curve of sand and sea is no exception, its rippling blue waves holding secrets to be told.

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Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you all next time!

Wednesday Wander – Haiti

Haiti 1This is a photograph of a ruined brothel on the shores of a pristine bay in Haiti, which comprises the western half of the island of Hispaniola. I visited Haiti briefly nearly thirty years ago and, I have to be honest, had a fairly sanitised experience in my short time there. Nonetheless, I was struck by the beauty of the place, and the juxtaposition of an old brothel against modern scenes of happy beachgoers.

Haiti has a troubled history since European settlement. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was known for its lucrative sugar cane plantations worked by slaves, all of whom were horribly mistreated. An uprising in 1791 ousted the colonial masters and brought an end to their cruel practices, making Haiti the only nation in the world established  as a result of a successful slave revolt.

Haiti 2

In recent years Haiti has suffered from political turmoil and the devastating earthquake of 2010, in which much of the country’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. This combined with ineffective government and a subsequent cholera outbreak has meant that the country is still struggling to recover. And yet it remains a place of outstanding natural beauty, with many of its historical landmarks still intact, including those that predate European settlement. To see more photographs of Haiti as it is today, this excellent article by National Geographic features photographs of Haiti by Haitians, as well as their stories.

Thank you for coming with me on another Wednesday Wander – see you all next time!