The Forts and Tunnels of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising Old San Juan in Puerto Rico includes several forts. The two most massive are the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristóbal, built by the Spanish during Colonial times. The immense ramparts of these colossal structures are pierced by a labyrinth of tunnels and passageways.

El Morro across the entrance to San Juan Bay

El Morro across the entrance to San Juan Bay

The most prominent of the two fortresses is El Morro, more fully called the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. It stands at the end of the headland on which Old San Juan is situated, guarding the entrance to San Juan Bay. The original small fort on the site was built in 1539-40, but in the 18th Century it was expanded beyond all recognition. It now covers an area of more than five acres, with six levels that climb 145 feet up the cliff.

The road up to El Morro

The road up to El Morro

The entrance to El Morro

The entrance to El Morro

El Morro's main courtyard

El Morro’s main courtyard

The upper level of El Morro

The upper level of El Morro

Making friends on the upper level of El Morro, with the lighthouse in the background

Making friends on the upper level of El Morro, with the lighthouse in the background

Looking down on the Santa Barbara Battery, which encloses the original 1539-40 fort

Looking down on the Santa Barbara Battery, which encloses the original 1539-40 fort

Cannon tracks on the Santa Barbara Battery

Cannon tracks on the Santa Barbara Battery

Heading down to the Santa Barbara Battery

Heading down to the Santa Barbara Battery

El Morro's upper ramparts, with tunnels going in all directions

El Morro’s upper ramparts, with tunnels going in all directions

Down into the original fort

Down into the original fort

a local cat has found a tunnel of their own!

A local cat has found a tunnel of their own!

Room to room

Room to room

Surf spyhole

Surf spyhole

One of the garitas, protected stone sentry boxes

One of the garitas, protected stone sentry boxes

If you thought El Morro was big, the Castillo de San Cristóbal is a monster. Its defences extend over an area of roughly 27 acres! It protects the landward side of the Old San Juan peninsula, and was once connected to El Morro, half a mile away, by a network of sturdy walls that surrounded the city at that time.

Looking from El Morro towards San Cristóbal

Looking from El Morro towards San Cristóbal

The seaward defences of San Cristóbal

The seaward defences of San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal's main gate

San Cristóbal’s main gate

San Cristóbal's main courtyard, awash with ramps, doors and tunnel entrances

San Cristóbal’s main courtyard, awash with ramps, doors and tunnel entrances

Entering the lower tunnels

Entering the lower tunnels

Deeper into the San Cristóbal tunnels

Deeper into the San Cristóbal tunnels

Dead end?!

Dead end?!

Escaped from the lower tunnels

Escaped from the lower tunnels

San Cristóbal upper tunnel

San Cristóbal upper tunnel

Another local with their own tunnel, this time at San Cristóbal

Another local with their own tunnel, this time at San Cristóbal

Looking back towards El Morro from the World War II battlement on San Cristóbal

Looking back towards El Morro from the World War II battlement on San Cristóbal

This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Jo’s Monday Walk.

El Morro from the sea at night, with San Cristóbal in the background (the dark shape on the left)

El Morro from the sea at night, with San Cristóbal in the background (the dark shape on the left)

the-great-migration-coverthe-pride-of-london-coverThe first two Jaspa’s Journey adventures, The Great Migration and The Pride of London, are now available in both paperback and ebook formats from all good booksellers! Click here for more information. The third instalment, Jaspa’s Waterloo, is scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes early next year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing history and culture on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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Posted in Adventure, Caribbean, History, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Easter Island Moai

There are few more iconic historical objects than the Moai stone figures from Easter Island. They’re just something we all recognise.

DSC_0835Unsurprisingly, this makes them extremely sought-after, which has led to several Moai (and many more Moai pieces) being removed from Easter Island without permission over the last 150 years. It’s also resulted in a whole bunch of fakes.

The Moai outside the Museum of Archaeology and History Francisco Fonck in Viña del Mar, Chile, is neither of the above. It was brought to the mainland from Easter Island in 1951 aboard the ship Presidente Pinto.

DSC_0836The Viña del Mar Moai stands almost 9½ feet tall. It was removed from the small Ahu One Makihi platform on the south side of Easter Island, within what is now the Rapa Nui National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. This location is close to the famous Rano Raraku Crater quarry, where most of the Moai were carved straight out of the volcanic rock, between 600 and 350 years ago, by the Rapa Nui people.

For me, the most striking features of the Moai are their deep, brooding eyes beneath heavy brows. It wasn’t until 1979 that archaeologists realised they actually once had ‘proper’ eyes, carved from while coral with either black or red pupils.

DSC_0841It’ll be a mighty Bucket List day if (when!!) I get to visit Easter Island for myself and see the hundreds of Moai still in their natural setting.

This post was inspired by the photo theme of Eyes from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

DSC_0840The Great Migration (cover)The first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from all good booksellers! Click here for more information. The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing history and culture on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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Posted in History, Jaspa's Journey, South America, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Wrangell Mountains Reflections

Rich and I have been working hard on the fourth Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Hermit of Kennecott, which is set in Alaska. Unsurprisingly then, I’ve been reflecting on the Last Frontier, as it’s sometimes known, a lot recently. And while it might be a little early for a teaser for a book that isn’t even finished yet, I just couldn’t resist sharing a few photos.

The images below were taken of the Wrangell Mountains early one morning in late August at Willow Lake on the Richardson Highway. Enjoy!

IMG_3768IMG_3769IMG_3770IMG_3772IMG_3792This post was inspired by the photo themes of Peaks from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack? and Mirror from Jen of The Daily Post.

The Great Migration (cover)The first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from all good booksellers! Click here for more information. The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing the Great Outdoors on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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UNESCO Patagonian Penguins

I was really torn before our visit to Puerto Madryn in Argentina. We had time to visit either the Península Valdés (Valdes Peninsula) UNESCO World Heritage Site or Punta Tombo Magellanic Penguin Colony, the largest in South America.

The arid Península Valdés

The arid Península Valdés

Both these options presented a rare opportunity. I love UNESCO sites and try to include them whenever possible. But how can you turn down the chance to see a penguin colony?

DSC_5312Our decision was made even more difficult when our stop at the Falkland Islands, where we were going to visit a Gentoo penguin colony, was cancelled because of bad weather.

The closest we got the the Falkland Islands

The closest we got the the Falkland Islands

In the end , we got the best of both worlds, when we got to see a Magellanic penguin colony on the Valdes Peninsula. What a beautiful moment!

DSC_5288Within the Península Valdés World Heritage Site is the Caleta Valdés (Valdes Creek) penguin colony. While nowhere near the size of the colony at Punta Tombo, it still has around 46,500 breeding pairs.

Caleta Valdés

Caleta Valdés

DSC_5361Amazingly, there were only two breeding pairs at Caleta Valdés in the early 1960s. Now that’s a success story!

In the 1960's, this would have been the entire Caleta Valdés colony

In the 1960’s, this would have been the entire Caleta Valdés colony

DSC_5328Where possible, Magellanic penguins like to nest in burrows in the ground.

Penguin burrows at Caleta Valdés

Penguin burrows at Caleta Valdés

A Magellanic penguin in its burrow

A Magellanic penguin in its burrow

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Although they nest on/in the ground, penguins are obviously happier in the ocean.

Time for a swim

Time for a swim

Nearly there...

Nearly there…

Bliss!

Bliss!

DSC_5299DSC_5300Magellanic penguins can reach up to about 28 inches in height and 10 pounds in weight.

A Magellanic penguin

A Magellanic penguin

Penguin portrait

Penguin portrait

DSC_5325DSC_5296DSC_5303Preening is very important for keeping feathers clean and waterproof.

Time for a little preen

Time for a little preen

DSC_5295DSC_5306DSC_5309Magellanic penguins are monogamous, meaning they keep the same partner for several breeding seasons.

Holding flippers

Holding flippers

Preening each other

Preening each other

DSC_5335DSC_5301DSC_5329This post was inspired by the photo themes of Feathers from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Rare from Ben of The Daily Post, and Ground from Dale of Spun With Tears.

Sorry I'm all blurry... I got a bit overexcited!

Sorry I’m all blurry… I got a bit overexcited!

The Great Migration (cover)The first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from all good booksellers! Click here for more information. The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing wildlife and nature on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

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Hawaiian Craftsman at Hōnaunau

Back in May, we visited the Pu’uhonau o Hōnaunau National Historic Park on the Big Island of Hawai’i. As you might expect, everything about Hōnaunau was fascinating. Yet one of the high points came as we were about to leave.

DSC_7558The last point on the self-guided tour of the site is a group of Hālau, thatched open-ended structures used for storage, or as workshops or classrooms. In one of these Hālau was local historian and craftsman, Kihe da Silva. He was dressed in the traditional Hawaiian way, patiently carving a lump of coral in the time-honoured manner.

DSC_7553And when I say carving, I actually mean slowly rubbing the coral away with a small stone. It’s a painstaking and meditative process.

DSC_7552Kihe told us that the symbol he was carving represented Kihawahina, one of three sisters important in the mythology of Hōnaunau.

DSC_7555Appeal: All three sisters’ names began with ‘K’, one of the others being Kila. I’ve tried looking up the legend, but have so far had no luck. All I’ve found is a lizard-goddess called Kihawahine (note the slight spelling difference) important on Maui, but I don’t think that’s it. If anyone knows the story, I’d love to hear from you!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Hands from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

If you’re the sort of person that loves a bit of history and culture on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

 

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The Great Migration Back In Bookstores!

Define ‘Fun’…

How about walking into a bookstore and finding copies of your book on the shelf.

Back on the shelves!

Back on the shelves!

It doesn’t get much more fun than that! Especially after an enforced hiatus of five whole years, following the closure of your original publisher.

Yep, it's really there!

Yep, it’s really there!

But Jaspa’s Journey: The Great Migration is back! And it’ll soon be followed by the first two sequels: The Pride Of London, later this year, and Jaspa’s Waterloo, early next year.

And on an end cap, too!

And on an end cap, too!

And for some real fun, those of you who live in Southern Ontario are invited to come down to Chapters bookstore in Kitchener next Saturday (August 20th, from 11 until 5) to meet Rich, the author! It’ll be great to see you there!!

How To Train Your Dragon is some pretty good company. Hollywood will be calling any day now!

How To Train Your Dragon is some pretty good company. Hollywood will be calling any day now!

This post was inspired by the photo themes of Writing from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack? and Fun! from Michelle of The Daily Post.

Three book bannerYou can follow my continuing, real-life Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

The first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! And as said above, the first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes over the next few months.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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The Streets of Ljubljana Old Town, Slovenia

Once part of war-torn Yugoslavia, Slovenia is today a beautiful and peaceful country. This is nowhere more apparent than in the historic heart of its capital, Ljubljana.

Ljubljana Castle from the market place in Old Town

Ljubljana Castle from the market place in Old Town

Old Town Ljubljana nestles in an area of flat ground along the Ljubljanica River, watched over by the prominent mediaeval castle atop its hill. This part of the city is characterised by grand Baroque buildings and several unique bridges crossing the river.

Come for a walk with me, and I’ll show you around…

The Dragon Bridge crossing the Ljubljanica River

The Dragon Bridge crossing the Ljubljanica River

Wonder why it's called the Dragon Bridge? (Actually, the dragon is Ljubljana's emblem. You find it everywhere!)

Wonder why it’s called the Dragon Bridge?
(Actually, the dragon is Ljubljana’s emblem. You find it everywhere!)

Don't drink from the fountain? Don't vomit into the fountain?

Don’t drink from the fountain? Don’t vomit into the fountain?

Ciril-Metodov Trg

Ciril-Metodov Trg

Ljubljana Cathedral

Ljubljana Cathedral

Great sign outside Klobasarna sausage shop - yum!

Great sign outside Klobasarna sausage shop – yum!

The Fountain of Three Rivers (under renovation) in Mestni Trg (Town Square)

The Fountain of Three Rivers (under renovation) in Mestni Trg (Town Square)

Ljubljana Town Hall, also in Mestni Trg

Ljubljana Town Hall, also in Mestni Trg

Fantastic old map of Ljubljana painted on a wall of the Town Hall's inner courtyard

Fantastic old map of Ljubljana painted on a wall of the Town Hall’s inner courtyard

The Triple Bridge can be a little difficult to figure out

The Triple Bridge can be a little difficult to figure out

Triple Bridge: Does this angle help?

Triple Bridge: Does this angle help?

Triple Bridge: What about this one?

Triple Bridge: What about this one?

The Ljubljanica River from the Triple Bridge

The Ljubljanica River from the Triple Bridge

Looking along Stritarjeva Ulica (Stritarjeva Street) towards the Town Square from the Triple Bridge

Looking along Stritarjeva Ulica (Stritarjeva Street) towards the Town Square from the Triple Bridge

The Cobbler's Bridge

The Cobbler’s Bridge

Street musicians on the Cobbler's Bridge

Street musicians on the Cobbler’s Bridge

The castle looms above an alley named Pod Trančo

The castle looms above an alley named Pod Trančo

Ljubljana Castle and the Ljubljanica riverfront at night

Ljubljana Castle and the Ljubljanica riverfront at night

Back at the Triple Bridge

Back at the Triple Bridge

Grrr!

Grrr!

This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge, Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge, which this week is Cityscape, and Jo’s Monday Walk, of course.

If you’re the sort of person that loves a bit history on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

 

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