Kitchen Chat and more…
Kitchen Chat and more…
Puerto Rico is an incredible mecca for athletes and paradise. The two naturally attract. The cool blue waters and perfect weather allows for all types of outdoor sports. One of the most popular sports on the island is baseball. Baseball is a natural favorite of the locals and such star athletes as Carlos Beltran, Roberto Alomar, and Roberto Clemente have emerged from here. The park Hiran Birthorn Stadium in Hato Rey, San Juan is famous for its November through January games. It is not a Major League field but nonetheless it is famous for being the playing field of the stars before they were stars.
In a completely different league, no pun intended, is the vibrant sport of kayaking, which is also a local favorite. Nothing beats the colorful display of boats in the sparkling waters. A true action sport, kayaking can be competitive or a perfect outdoor family activity. One thing in certain, Pueto Rico is the perfect place to kayak. There are numerous tourism packages that will bring you the whole aquatic package and let you snorkle and kayak in the same deal. One of the most incredible experiences is Kayaking through one of three of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays near San Juan. There is nothing more mirculous than visiting the bays where long-living microorganisms thrive in the non-polluted water. The reason for this is because when the paddle of the kayak or anyone swims in or disturbs the water, the microorganisms light up the water like a glowstick. It is truly magical. Even when the initial glow subsides, the water still twinkles as the disruption dies down. These bays in Puerto Rico attract travelers from all over the world to stand in awe of the luminous waters.
Glow kayaking is the perfect night time activity, but the next day you will be aching to continue your magical adventure in Puerto Rico. Consider relaxing in an beautiful catamaran sailboat that goes onward to the deserted and gorgeous island of lcacos. This relaxing island is perfect for collecting seashells, taking a dip in the blue waters, sunbathing, or swimming and snorkeling. The best part about this trip is that there is a fantastic coral reef that is breathtaking. In the lonelyplanet.com package for $85, you can also enjoy the sailboat adventure and receive complimentary Pina Coladas by the Barefoot III or Stampede ship crew. Enjoy a picnic also served on board as you anchor by the gorgeous coral reef and have the option to take special snorkeling instruction lessons. It is a jam-packed beautiful package and one that cannot be missed.
The next day of your San Juan trip can be spent by visitng Rent The Bicycle. This eco-friendly company will show you Old San Juan by renting eco-friendly bicycles for the day. This daytrip features safe bike paths, an optional tour guide, helmets and biycyle fitting and a beautiful tour through some of the best spots in Puerto Rico. Cruise through the town and enjoy the scenes, sights and smells of this colorful town. You can view the forts and the Capitol building. You can explore the Old City Gate, Cathedral and Paseo de Princesa. In the Pinones nature board walk, you can ride past gorgeous beaches and lush deep forests. It is definitely a top tour to take that is much better than exploring the city by foot. Being able to speed through Old San Juan on a bike will allow you to view much more of the town and explore so many more sights to see.
Jose Ramon Fernandez is one of the wealthiest men to live in the 19th century Spanish Caribbean area. He achieved his wealth through being a sugar baron. In fact he was the wealthiest sugar baron in all of Puerto Rico. Through his wealth he was able to achieve vast amounts of influence and power in Puerto Rico and th surrounding area earning the title of “Marques de La Esperanza.” His legacy lives on today in Puerto Rico.
Jose was born in 1797 to a Spanish naval captain in Puerto Rico. Jose’s father fought pirates and English merchant ships protecting Spanish shipments. Due to his success as a naval captain the Spanish government awarded Jose’s father with property in Bayamon and Manati. There Jose would grow up on a sugar cane and cattle plantation. Jose’s father would name his farm at Bayamon the “Santa Ana Plantation” and his farm at Manati “Hacienda La Esperanza.” He started out just producing rum from a mixture of honey and sugar for his own private and family use. Eventually he had two enormous windmills erected on each plantation to be used to more efficiently extract the juices from the sugar cane. This led to an increase in production as well as scope of his rum production.
Jose would live with his father on his plantation until he was eleven. Once turning eleven he was sent to Spain to get a proper education. While in Spain he studied business administration learning many of the valuable skills that would make him a powerful man later in his life. When he turned seventeen he moved to England to continue his education. While studying in england he became proficient in the English language. He also began to make connections with other business men and form a deeper understanding of the world of business. After completing his education in England he moved to New York. This move was pivotal for Jose’s career as in New York he formed many long lasting and valuable connections that would come to be of great use to him and his business later on in life.
Returning to Puerto Rico
When Jose returned to Puerto Rico he returned to his father’s plantations which had grown to be some of the richest and most prosperous in all of the land. Upon seeing the experience and knowledge his son had gained while away Jose’s father chose to allow him to make many of the business decisions for the plantations. One of the key decisions made by Jose was to form a partnership with the sugar broker and U.S. Consulate to Puerto Rico George C. Lattimer. At this time he began living in Old San Juan upon San Fransisco Street, the same street today which is home of the El Asador Restaurant. In addition to gaining money Jose also began to gain power politically.
“Marqués de La Esperanza”
In 1868 there was a change in the government in Spain calling for each of the colonies to send representatives to Spain. Due to his plantation “La Esperanza” which he had inherited from his father being one of the richest and most technologically advanced sugar plantations in the world Jose was chosen to represent his colony. He received the title of “Marques de La Esperanza” for this honor. In Spain he convinced the government to divide Manati into two. His reasons for doing this were for his own gain as it allowed him to have his own sea port for shipments.
José Ramon Fernández’s plantation “Hacienda La Esperanza” today is left in the hands of the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust. Who has been restoring the plantation since 1984. It is one of the most valuable assets belonging to the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust.
Mostly known for its bustling nightlife, delightful cuisine, and scenic beaches Old San Juan also possesses other remarkable treasures that must be seen while visiting the town. With deep historical roots throughout the town Old San Juan is home to numerous churches. Each church has a unique history and personality making it more than worth it to take a day or afternoon to explore each Church. The Churches pay homage to those who originally settled in the city as well as a large portion of the population which still frequent these churches just as their ancestors did.
Cathedral of San Juan Bautista
The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is perhaps the largest Church in Old San Juan. It is also rich with history being constructed in 1521. This makes it one of the oldest buildings in San Juan. It was however destroyed in a hurricane and reconstructed in 1541. The structure built in 1541 is more or less what you see when you look at the Cathedral today though it has been touched up multiple times with the last being in 1917. The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is also the site of the oldest school in the U.S considering Puerto Rico is now considered a U.S. Territory. The school was established in 1513 and taught grammar to the children of the inhabitants of San Juan. Also contained within the Cathedral is the tomb of the famous explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and the waxed coated remains of the first century martyr, Saint Pius.
The San Francisco Church (Franciscan Chapel)
Another Church contained within San Juan is the San Fransisco Church or Franciscan Chapel. Though smaller than the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista it is still very much worth taking time to visit. It features a great example of a church from the 18th century when it was built. It was established by The Third Order of Francis in 1756. Inside it contains a variety of beautifully restored murals. There are also a number of restored reliefs that can be seen inside of the Church. Another interesting bit of history about the Franciscan Chapel is that the large crucifix displayed in the Church was rescued from a sunken ship off the coast of San Juan. The crucifix bears the name El Cristo de buen Viaje. Beneath the Chapel are catacombs that can be visited. Here you can see the graves of numerous people as well as that of the famous Puerto Rican Painter, Francisco Manuel Oller.
In addition to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista and the San Fransisco Church there are a few more historical Churches that can be visited. One is the Iglesia San Jose which was constructed between the years 1532 and 1753. It is the Church of the Dominican convent that is still in San Jose. Another church that should be seen while visiting Old San Juan is La Capilla del Cristo. This Church offers a nice view as it is next to the Park of the Pigeons and a wall offering a scenic overlook of San Juan bay. It is rarely open but if you happen to stop by when it is there are some beautiful relics upon display within the Chapel.
350 San Francisco Street
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
Fax: Fax 787-200-8542