Castillo San Juan, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 20150929

Sitting in the square at Castillo San Juan, on a bench in the shade. The wind off the sea keeps a constant breeze flowing through all the rooms of the fortress. The old stone walls ooze history. In the States we don’t get to experience this kind of history on a daily basis, we have to fly somewhere to find something this old. Perhaps if we walked through history every day as the Europeans do, we might become jaded to its power. I don’t think I’ll ever get that.

When you step into the dark tunnels for the first time, history slaps you in the face. I pause, stunned, on the threshold of the dungeon. It is not the first time I’ve been in an ancient place, but they always affect me so. Who walked here before? Was he happy with his life? Did he miss his wife and children back home? How could you bear to spend months and years away from your loved ones, not knowing if they still drew breath, if they were happy or sick or hungry?

In my mind’s eye I see platoons marching across these ancient stones. Off duty soldiers linger around the well, passing a flask of homemade spirits. The sound of the flags snapping overhead in the ever-present sea breeze is likely the same as those soldiers heard 400 years ago.

How could you not be astounded by this?

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