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El Morro

At a certain angle it stands alone, a looming commanding presence in a cerulean blue sea. The wind blows and one can almost see a full mast caravel ship come into view.

This is the feeling I got as I stood on top of Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro).

In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico. He originally called the whole island San Juan after John the Baptist. The area known as Old San Juan was called Porto Rico, rich port. Only later was this name reversed and used as the name of the island.

Spain claimed it first and then many pirates and buccaneers tried to capture it.

Sir Francis Drake tried and failed. Through the centuries the Dutch, French, and English came and went, all failing to conquer it. Then in 1898, El Morro was no match for modern technology and was taken over by the United States.

Then there were the hurricanes: San Felipe of 1920, Hugo in 1989, Georges in 1998, and then the mother of all, September 16, 2017, category five Maria.

The effects were devastating with many lives lost now known to be in the thousands. Many buildings and lives destroyed. Trees were uprooted, houses swept away, and still El Morro stood against the rain and the winds. In the end, some of the walls were damaged, It was closed for a time, then reopened in November 2017.

Defiant until the end, it stands over 400 years later, a guardian and protector of the island, a symbol of the resilience of Puerto Rico and the people.

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