Puerto Rico, First Few Days

My flight started off with a bang - well, hundreds of inaudible bangs. As we took off, a huge full moon lit the sky (that's it over the plane wing) and early Independence Day fireworks bubbled up from so many backyards below, in such an even spread across all of Portland and Vancouver, it looked orchestrated. Magic. Flying PDX-SJU, July 3

Not much airplane/airport sketching this time, due to attempts at getting some kind of "night" of "sleep".

Airports and plane window views

I stayed in the dorm portion of a hotel in Old San Juan, Posada San Francisco. It was central, way cheaper than anything else, and quite decent - with a wonderful balcony view.

View from Posada San Francisco (my hostel)

Despite the other hostel residents being quite nice, I had a rough first night - I was paranoid that I would snore, and had stress dreams about snoring as the result of bad programming. A lovely cappuccino with a flower in the foam at Cafecultura (conveniently located next door to the hostel) made me feel better, and I started to loosen up the drawing hand.

Stress dreams, then coffee at Cafecultura

Literally half a block from the hotel was the base of Fuerte San Cristobal, a very dramatic fortification built towards the end of the 18th century to protect against other European powers attacking by land. As I first walked to it to sketch, I got distracted by these metal plates in the sidewalk.

The sidewalks of Old San Juan

Fuerte San Cristobal was a good place to shelter as the tropical storm rains came and went.

Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico

While working on that last sketch, Puerto Rican sketcher Luis E. Aparicio joined me! He was enthusiastic about sketching, an instant friend, and an exceedingly gracious host for his city. We sketched in San Cristobal for a while and then took a walk around the city, stopping to sketch along the way, while Luis gave me some insights into different areas, buildings, and food options.

Fuerte San Cristobal, San Juan, Puerto Rico Fuerte San Cristobal El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

At the end of the afternoon, we retreated to a bar of Luis' choosing: El Batey, a favorite of his with graffiti-covered walls.

Sketching inside El Batey Sketching with Luis Aparicio at El Batey

I ended that day hanging out with people from the hostel - folks from the US and Canada for the most part, with the occasional European. Most of them - in about three different rental car expeditions - had spent the day being lost on the roads of Puerto Rico attempting to reach some tourist destination or another, endlessly taking the wrong turn and ending up back on the same bridge they'd just come over. But they all seemed in good spirits about it. Good travelers are fine with spending some time being lost.

There will be one more post about Puerto Rico, and then on to Santo Domingo and the Urban Sketching Symposium!