So far this has been the toughest of all the days. I had to really look at what picture I wanted to post so that I can explain it’s significance. I scoured the web for different things, but I settled on this picture above because I took this picture 5 years ago when I was in Puerto Rico. I wanted to post a picture that I actually took because I feel that since I was actually at this place, I can explain it a little better.
When I see this picture or even its silhouette, I think about my childhood. There have been pictures of this fort in my house. In fact, Bacardi was such a household name that this was one of their insignias in the early 80’s. I may be wrong about that, but I remember seeing this in some kind of advertising. Anyway, I knew that this was a place in Puerto Rico. I wasn’t sure about it’s significance or its importance, I just knew when I was a kid that it existed.
I have been to Puerto Rico twice. Once as a kid in the mid 1980’s and again as an adult in 2005. I have have been to this fort twice, but I did not appreciate the beauty of “El Morro” until I was an adult. In fact, the parts of the island that I visited are all just gorgeous to me, but I really enjoyed Old San Juan, which is where the fort is. So let’s get to the facts…
Fort San Felipe del Morro (other wise known as “El Morro”) was built in the 16th-century and is located on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan. It was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain and was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay. It’s sole purpose was to defend the city of Old San Juan from seaborne enemies. During Spanish rule this fort saw action against the English in 1595 in which the fort fought back the British. It was attacked again in 1598, but this time by land in which the Spaniards were almost beaten. The Dutch also followed suit and although the fort fought them off…the Dutch burned the city down before leaving. (You can read more about this here)
When I was at El Morro, there was talk about frequently fending off pirates. What I find interesting is that during my trip to the Caribbean in 2007 there was alot of talk about the history of pirates in the region. Which is another reason for all the forts being built. As a matter of fact, forts like El Morro were a bit of a calling card during the Spanish Rule of Latin America. Similar fortifications can be found in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Panamá.
The significance to me is that no matter if our ancestry lies in different islands, different paths, or different families, we are all brought together by history. In some way, our people have a shared experience outside our shared language. El Morro represents a small part of that.