Monday, July 5, 2010

Tranquility at San Cristóbal

So I'm supposed to be doing this travel writing thing; supposed to be documenting the things I see in the places I go.

But I can't stalk out a story. I can't just show up at a historical site, or restaurant, or cultural location, and start to write.

The story finds me.

It manifests itself anywhere, at any time, and demands to be written. So when I found myself at Castillo de San Cristóbal, one of the forts of San Juan, and a truly recognizable symbol of Puerto Rico, I figured I should probably write something about it. 

I stood there, desperately begging for words to come to me. The blank page just stared back. What could I really say about such a major tourist attraction that no one else has said? I suppose I could mention that there is a discount when purchasing entry for both San Cristóbal and neighboring fort, El Morro. I could say that there is a great introductory video to watch outlining the role of the fort in Puerto Rico's history. I could say that the inescapable fanny-pack toting tourists are here, in case you need a reminder that you are still on the beaten path. 

But none of that would be particularly interesting. 

Is this the predicament travel writers are constantly finding themselves in? I mean, I have long since been ditched by my travel companions and left standing alone on top of this stone looking like some kind of freak with my brochures and notebook, pen in hand, looking around for something to write. 

I really don't have all day to do this. 

So I give up. 

I close my eyes, and my notebook, and realize for the first time how quiet and peaceful it is up here. I can hear the waves splashing up against the stone walls of this fortress. The tourists must be scattered throughout the various tunnels and observation posts, because no one is near me, no voices interrupt my thoughts, no babies are screaming. 

This would really be a fantastic place to get some writing done if I had anything to say. 

I think how strange it is that there were once soldiers standing here looking out on their land, fearful of encroaching troops and poised to fight off an invasion. And now I stand here, looking out on the same land, the cool breeze caressing my face (and staving off a heat stroke) and I couldn't be more at peace.

Funny how time changes things. I am sure as attacks ensued, Spanish troops could not have imagined a day where someone would stand in the plaza de armas and their biggest battle would be against writer's block.

I am sure they never imagined tranquility at San Cristóbal...but it is there. 


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