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15635
Puerto Rico

An Outdoor Discovery of Puerto Rico’s History & Heritage

Learn the story of Puerto Rico through its archaeological sites, ancient forts, seaside villages, a historic coffee plantation and the grand architecture and monuments of Old San Juan.
Rating (4.82)
Program No. 15635RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,249
Puerto Rico

An Outdoor Discovery of Puerto Rico’s History & Heritage

Learn the story of Puerto Rico through its archaeological sites, ancient forts, seaside villages, a historic coffee plantation and the grand architecture and monuments of Old San Juan.
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,249
Program No. 15635 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 16 - Jan 23, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Feb 27 - Mar 6, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Mar 13 - Mar 20, 2022
Starting at
2,349
Apr 3 - Apr 10, 2022
Starting at
2,249
Oct 30 - Nov 6, 2022
Starting at
2,249
Dec 4 - Dec 11, 2022
Starting at
2,349
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 16 - Jan 23, 2022
Starting at
3,299
Feb 27 - Mar 6, 2022
Starting at
3,299
Mar 13 - Mar 20, 2022
Starting at
3,299
Apr 3 - Apr 10, 2022
Starting at
3,199
Oct 30 - Nov 6, 2022
Starting at
3,199
Dec 4 - Dec 11, 2022
Starting at
3,299

At a Glance

Experience Puerto Rico’s colorful culture and history from pre-Columbian times to present U.S. stewardship. Led by local experts, explore a fascinating blend of historic cities and museums, beaches, seaside villages and natural wonders. Ponce, known as "the Pearl of the South," is a charming town with magnificent Spanish colonial architecture. Walk through its elegant historic district and top-notch museums, and enjoy galleries and historic sites in San Juan where the Puerto Rican culture is uniquely portrayed.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
One mile of walking over varied terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Venture to El Yunque for a short hike through the only tropical rainforest that is part of the U.S. National Forest System.
  • Enjoy a walking exploration of the San Felipe de Morro Fort and La Muralla (city wall) in Old San Juan, as well as one of Puerto Rico’s best preserved coffee plantations.
  • Discover the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean.

General Notes

Featured Expert
All Experts
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Alberto J Melendez
Alberto Melendez is a certified educational excursion, a certified Advance Open Water Scuba Diver and a Florida master naturalist. He has been leading kayak and snorkeling explorations in the Orlando area for over eight years. A 'tree-hugger' since the term became popular, he enjoys introducing folks to the inside story of the critters, salt marsh and history of the area.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Alberto J Melendez
Alberto J Melendez View biography
Alberto Melendez is a certified educational excursion, a certified Advance Open Water Scuba Diver and a Florida master naturalist. He has been leading kayak and snorkeling explorations in the Orlando area for over eight years. A 'tree-hugger' since the term became popular, he enjoys introducing folks to the inside story of the critters, salt marsh and history of the area.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Puerto Rico: Culture, Politics, and Identity
by Nancy Morris
This book uses historical and interview data to trace the development of Puerto Rican identity in the 20th century. It analyzes how and why Puerto Ricans have maintained a clear sense of distinctiveness in the face of direct and indirect pressures on their identity. After gaining sovereignty over Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898, the United States undertook a sustained campaign to Americanize the island. Despite 50 years of active Americanization and another 40 years of continued United States sovereignty over the island, Puerto Ricans retain a sense of themselves as distinctly and proudly Puerto Rican. This study examines the symbols of Puerto Rican identity, and their use in the complex politics of the island. It shows that identity is dynamic, it is experienced differently by individuals across Puerto Rican society, and that the key symbols of Puerto Rican identity have not remained static over time. Through the study of Puerto Rico, the book investigates and challenges the widely-heard argument that the inevitable result of the export of U.S. mass media and consumer culture throughout the world is the weakening of cultural identities in receiving societies. The book develops the idea that external pressure on collective identity may strengthen that identity rather than, as is often assumed, diminish it.
Stories from Puerto Rico
by Robert L Muckley and Adela Martinez- Santiago
The book will fill you in on how the natives discovered the Spaniards weren’t Gods, and other local legends.
Puerto Rico Mio: Four decades of change
by Jack Delano
It is a sizable picture book
From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity
by Juan Flores
Neither immigrants nor ethnics, neither foreign nor "hyphenated Americans" in the usual sense of that term, Puerto Ricans in New York have created a distinct identity both on the island of Puerto Rico and in the cultural landscape of the United States. Juan Flores considers the uniqueness of Puerto Rican culture and identity in relation to that of other Latino groups in the United States -- as well as to other minority groups, especially African Americans. Architecture and urban space, literary traditions, musical styles, and cultural movements provide some of the sites and moments of a cultural world defined by the interplay of continuity and transformation, heritage and innovation, roots and fusion. Exploring this wide range of cultural expression -- both in the diaspora and in Puerto Rico -- Flores highlights the rich complexities and fertile contradictions of Latino identity.
Divided Borders: Essays of Puerto Rican identity
by Juan Flores
Juan Flores dissects in greater detail the Puerto Rican struggle to define and maintain indigenous identities as the island becomes more homogeneous. Flores also wrote From Bomba to Hip-Hop, a wide-ranging series of essays.
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8 days
7 nights
17 meals
7 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Check In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Juan
D
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: When you check in at the hotel and get your room assignment, ask the front desk for the location of the Road Scholar meeting room where we will have our Orientation session. Program Registration & Orientation: 5:00 p.m. As you register with the program staff, you will receive your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Unless specified otherwise, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach and will require going up and down a few steps. Meals at local restaurants will be plated and include choices from select menus with standard beverages of coffee, tea and water with other beverages available for purchase. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Old San Juan, Capitol Hill
San Juan
B,L,D
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles with some periods standing; paved terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes choices such as eggs, breakfast meats and breads, cereals, milk, juice coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and transfer to Old San Juan where a local expert will provide an overview of Puerto Rico’s history from the Spanish colonial period to the present. Columbus made landfall here on his second voyage in 1493, claiming it for Spain — which might have come as a surprise to the inhabitants, indigenous Taíno Indians. The first Spanish settlers arrived on the island in 1508. Moving on with our local expert, we’ll learn about the history and explore Fort San Cristóbal, also known as Castillo San Cristóbal, the largest colonial Spanish fortress in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in 1634 and it was not completed until 1790. European powers fought for hundreds of years to control the island due to its strategic location. San Cristóbal guarded the land entrance to Old San Juan. It is a magnificent and impressive structure covering 27 acres, now part of the San Juan National Historic Site.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have sandwiches and/or salads from a select menu and standard beverages.

Afternoon: Our next field trip will be to El Capitolio de Puerto Rico — Capitol Hill — with our local expert. The impressive building is home to the Legislative Assembly composed of the House of Representatives and Senate, a symbol of self-government to Puerto Ricans. The Neoclassical Revival design was by architect Rafael Carmoega. The interior features artwork illustrating highlights in Puerto Rico’s history by prominent artists. While here, a docent will provide a special presentation illuminating the inner workings of Puerto Rico’s governmental structures with some emphasis on the relationships these systems have with the United States.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with standard beverages.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Ponce, Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, History Museum
Ponce
B,L,D
Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; some periods of standing. The drive is about 77 miles, approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board the motorcoach and begin our transfer via the Luis A. Ferre Highway over La Cordillera Central — the island's main mountain range — into the southern part of Puerto Rico. We'll venture first to the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean, for an expert-led field trip focusing on the area’s history before Christopher Columbus’ arrival. Its discovery resulted from a hurricane in 1975 when torrential rains and flooding revealed remnants of indigenous cultures that had been long buried. Archaeologists began excavations in 1976 and eventually uncovered the oldest and largest Indian ceremonial complex in Puerto Rico, consisting of nine ball courts and three plazas. There was also a cemetery with nearly 200 human skeletons. The oldest artifacts and structures from pre-Taíno Indians date back more than 1,000 years.

Lunch: Local restaurant plated meal.

Afternoon: Riding on, we’ll reach the city of Ponce and embark on a field trip via trolley and walking through Ponce to admire its stunning architecture including the beautiful and unique historic Ponce Firehouse, Ponce Cathedral, and Delicias Square. We’ll then go on an expert-led field trip to the Museo de la Historia de Ponce — Museum of the History of Ponce. Inaugurated in 1992, it is now one of the city’s most active cultural centers, preserving and presenting important aspects of Puerto Rican and Ponceño history and culture. The majority of its artifacts have been donated by local citizens. Permanent exhibits include Ecology, Human Panorama, Politics, Economic Activity, Architecture and Urban Development, Health and Medicine. The museum is housed in the beautiful Casa Salazar that combines Moorish, neoclassical, and Ponceño architectural elements. We’ll ride on to the hotel for a mid-afternoon check-in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy an interactive dinner, learning about the foods we’re eating from one of the chefs and specialties such as Mofongo (pickled plantains) and other local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Hacienda Buena Vista, Art Museum, Music of Puerto Rico
Ponce
B,L
Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles on some uneven terrain. The drive is about 15 miles, approximately ½ an hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our first field trip today will be to the Hacienda Buena Vista, a 19th century coffee plantation turned museum. Restored to its former glory by a team of Smithsonian specialists and island artisans, its location is indeed a buena vista (beautiful view), with just under 500 acres in the Rio Canas Valley. We may be able to see hummingbirds as the Hacienda's trails take us past cascading waterfalls. With our local expert, we will explore some of the plantation’s grounds and visit the on-site museum while learning about the development of the coffee industry in the area. Our next stop will be the renovated Museo de Arte de Ponce. Closed while undergoing extensive renovations, the museum was reopened in November 2010 in time for the celebration of its 50th anniversary. The $30 million renovation included an expansion, which increased the size of the museum by over 40%. The Museo de Arte houses the most important collection of European art in Latin America. Among its collection are works from the 14th to the 20th century, including Italian Baroque, British Pre-Raphaelite, Spanish Golden Age and contemporary Latin-American pieces. Some of the artists whose paintings and works are exhibited at the museum include Peter Paul Rubens, Lucas Cranach, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Eugène Delacroix, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, among others. The museum's masterpiece is the Flaming June, painted by Frederic Leighton. Led by a museum docent, we will see much of the vast collection and learn about the relationships linking Latin American and European art.

Lunch: Local restaurant plated meal.

Afternoon: At the hotel, we’ll learn how the music of Puerto Rico has evolved as a heterogeneous and dynamic product of diverse cultural resources through a performance by a local musician.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Transfer to San Juan, Town of Caguas, Puerto Rico Art Museum
San Juan
B,L,D
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles with some periods of standing; paved terrain. The drive is about 80 miles, approximately 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and depart for San Juan. En route, we will stop in Caguas to take a walking field trip to Ruta del Corazón Criollo — Route of the Creole Heart. Along the way, we’ll spot at a few points of interest and familiarize ourselves with the artistic culture of the area. Our historical journey through the heart of Caguas will provide a unique view into the cultural influence of this important city in the valley as we visit small craft shops and museums with our Group Leader.

Lunch: Local restaurant plated meal.

Afternoon: We will continue towards San Juan, taking the Luis A. Ferre Highway back over La Cordillera Central. Upon arrival in the city, we will visit the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR), the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico. Inaugurated in July 2000, the museum has managed to develop quite a large permanent collection of Puerto Rican art ranging from the 16th century to the present. The works are thoroughly researched and documented, with the exhibits often including an interpretation of the masterpieces on display. Our local expert will lead us through the exhibits of carefully selected artworks helping to give us insight into Puerto Rican art. As a popular museum, it also provides local artists with access to visual art from other parts of the world thereby encouraging artistic expansion. We’ll then go to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, we’ll enjoy a plated meal with standard beverages.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
El Yunque Rain Forest, Pinones Village
San Juan
B,L
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan

Activity note: Walking up to 1.0 miles on some uneven terrain with minor elevation change.Due to the effect of hurricane Maria the trails at El Yunque are very limited .

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes choices such as eggs, breakfast meats and breads, cereals, milk, juice coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After boarding our motorcoach, we’ll transfer to El Yunque National Forest for a field trip including a short hike with our Group Leader and a local expert. This is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest system. Located on the eastern end of the Island, El Yunque features a variety of unique plant and animal species with many well-marked trails, making it easy to explore.

Lunch: At a pleasant spot in the El Yunque Rainforest, we’ll have a tasty and healthy picnic buffet lunch including salads, sandwiches, and fruit.

Afternoon: Our next field trip will be to Pinones in the town of Loiza at the north of the island. Driving into Pinones you are instantly transported back in time to another era.It is the home to many modest families making a living selling typical local food from kiosks along the beach. Their traditions span back 400 years and beyond that to the time when the Spanish conquered the land and brought in the first roots of African people to the island.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in San Juan.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
North Old San Juan, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
San Juan
B,D
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles; hilly terrain, wear comfortable walking shoes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We'll explore North Old San Juan on foot and visit such famed sites as Paseo de la Princesa, a walk between the bay and the old city wall; La puerta de San Juan, the only remaining “gate” into/out of the old walled city; La Rogativa, a renowned bronze statue recalling a key incident in the city’s history; and the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, Old San Juan Cathedral. Our local expert will provide commentary as we go, pointing out unique architecture and sharing with us some stories about the Old City’s history.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most at your own pace in Old San Juan. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The cobblestone streets are rich in architectural delights and the tree-shaded squares more reminiscent of Europe than America. We will regroup and a designated time and place and return to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Say farewells and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
San Juan
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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