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LETTERS

Visit Puerto Rico, help fellow Americans

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C. Everett Thompson II

Sunday, May 26, 2019

There has been quite a bit of news concerning the island of Puerto Rico. As we all know, the island suffered severely after being hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. The island is still recovering and needs additional help.

However, what I recommend is that, if you are planning or thinking about a visit to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is the place to go. Puerto Rico has a great variety of experiences. It contains unique attractions and amazing sights that would keep you busy for weeks. The island is a territory of the United States. It is about 100 miles long and 35 miles wide. You don’t need a passport to go there. The people of Puerto Rico are citizens of the U.S. just like the people of North Carolina. We are all Americans.

Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in 1493, making it the only place he stepped foot on that is part of the U.S. or its territories. Puerto Rico has a richness of history and culture that you cannot find elsewhere. Old San Juan was originally settled in 1521 and is the oldest city under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Old San Juan has beautiful architecture, with several hundred carefully restored buildings dating back 300 to 450 years.

There are two old massive fortresses, El Morro and San Cristobal, which are part of the U.S. National Park Service. You can walk into 500 years of history in them. You can visit San Juan Bautista Cathedral, the second-oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest church on U.S. soil. When you go inside, you can observe the tomb of Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico. As a tourist, you can walk all around the ancient city and see numerous wonderful sites, shops, restaurants, art galleries and the like.

From San Juan you can go a few miles to the east to visit the El Yunque National Forest, which is the only rain forest in the National Forest Service. Driving and hiking through this forest is spectacular. You will see incredible plants and a number of waterfalls. You can tour other parts of the island and enjoy beautiful beaches, wonderful golf courses, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and many other fun things to do, all with pleasant tropical weather.

While traveling through the center of the island, you can drive up a mountain that is more than 4,000 feet above sea level. Puerto Rico’s northwest corner is known for its surfing sites; it’s where the 1968 World Surfing Championship was held. Many times, in the winter, the surf can reach heights of more than 15-20 feet. Some call this island the Hawaii of the East Coast.

Visiting the island can not only be a great trip, but also be helpful to the people of Puerto Rico. This is a time when the people there do need help in many ways. Remember that the people of the island are Americans just like we are.

C. Everett Thompson II

Elizabeth City

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