USA: San Juan, New York City & New Orleans...

In my heart I will always have a place for the United States of America, its a place that's given me a lot that I can be thankful because of my placement. Serving my remembrance to my USA year, I want to pay attention to San Juan, New York City and New Orleans. From crystal clear Puerto Rican waters to an empire state of mind, there's always room for a Disney Princess, Tiana! Oui!

La isla del encanto esta esperando! Puerto Rico was for me! Leaving the mainland behind me to experience a hearty serving of Puerto Rican culture! I stepped back in time, choosing Old San Juan for a relaxing break to embrace the breathtaking colonial Spanish architecture. I chose wisely to see the cobbled streets of Old San Juan to relax and to see the castle forts that were fortified by the Spanish. I hosteled like a true backpacker on Calle de la Fortaleza, it didn't cost me the earth either! Both Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal served strong meaning business, protecting the rich port from invaders these fortification's are part of the U.S National Park Service. I had a valuable history lesson! A stunning U.S Commonwealth nation had me entering those Puerto Rican borders just fine, the island follows the same entry requirements as the U.S mainland. I was good with my visa, ready for PR! I got boozy but saw what I had planned to, Viejo San Juan impressed me! ¡Me asombró la isla rica! 

Trading fast food for a meal at Cafe Puerto Rico! I was a must do to enjoy a freshly cooked Mofongo with chicken, served with a rich garlic sauce. I found out that Mofongos are made from plantains! Boricuas are proud of their heritage and love to express their allegiance to their island of Puerto Rico! I don't drive so I went on a day trip from Old San Juan to the El Yunque National Rainforest and Luquillo Beach. The rainforest transported me to a tropical oasis, reinforcing the hidden beauty of Puerto Rico! To conclude the trip a rest stop at Luquillo Beach where the Caribbean Sea hugged the Atlantic Ocean, it was a magical time relaxing on the golden sands in the sun with an ice cold Daiquiri in hand! I loved it! San Juan, Puerto Rico opened my eyes in the best way, I'll definitely return to the island of beauty and realness in the future! Learning a whole kind of Spanish whilst on the island along with the Spanglish phrases the Puertorriqueños used, it was like the perfect Spanish lesson! Take me back to Luquillo Beach!

New York City baby! The city streets might be tough but feel the deal, NYC is real! From Downtown to Central Park I scratched beneath the surface, reading between the lines to capture the true essence of NYC! Chinatown NYC doesn't throw shade, I had some Vietnamese dishes to discover. I got down to a Broadway show, Evita gave me my Broadway experience. The New York Yankees played their game, allowing me to step into the Bronx! NYC will always be the queen of my dreams! I took solace from the struggle that the immigrants went through at Ellis Island. That island visit was the perfect opportunity to meet the Lady of Liberty. During my time in New York City I left my worries in Jersey, NYC was my playground! In the best way, New York City will always serve 'royal highness!' Yes, the view from the top of the Empire State Building put me in my place, I got over my fears! NYC had me feeling all kind of feelings!

Brooklyn didn't just show me its bridge, I found a rather mysterious corner of Williamsburg that held a big Jewish presence. Lee Avenue had me keeping things 'Kosher' within the hasidim population within New York City, I was amazed! Midtown Manhattan had me like 'damn' the first time but I discovered all kinds of fabulousness along Christopher Street, the NYC Pride March 2012 had me feeling all kinds of myself! As the winter months creeped in, the cold bit as I walked along the High Line during that December month. Times Square caught my attention several times, it was the first place that I saw in the city. Those lights and advertisements won't ever get repetitive, I'll be back one day to revisit that colourful corner! I didn't see Coney Island because Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey pulled me away, I'll be seeing you in a few Coney! From the Bronx to Midtown with Battery Park, NYC gave me serious life experience! New York C's Battery Park had me desperately seeking Susan!

I headed down to the Deep South to New Orleans alongside the rolling Mississippi River. I didn't get those Delta blues because the French Quarter brought me Disney's Princess and The Frog to life with the original buildings and Voodoo business! I wanted to take a boat trip through the world famous Bayou but Mother Nature threw serious shade on me and my sister friend that January afternoon. Digging a little deeper, we headed over to the Garden District to be transported back to true Louisiana realness with the regal houses that lined the streets. We enjoyed a triple chocolate brownie or two from The Grocery on Charles & 6th Street!  We left the crowded city streets behind us to experience an infusion of colonial American style because that was where New Orleans began before the stars and stripes! Fairytales really do come true, New Orleans was the sprinkle of pixie dust!  C'est vraiment incroyable! Tiana! 

St. Louis Cathedral gave us Jackson Square life, the French influence was unstoppable within that part of town. Looking out for the Fleur de Lis, that sight instilled the French history. Cajun cuisine broke all boundaries down, Cafe Du Monde coffee-house served up some delicious Beignets with coffee! Cajun cuisine impressed us much, we made sure that we both tried Gumbo and Catfish at least once to ensure our whistle-stop experience in New Orleans could be whole. Breakfast had to be enjoyed at Stanley's, myself and my sister discovered that French Boudin completed the perfect 'Orleans cooked breakfast! Bourbon Street served us with washing machines filled with iced cocktails that we simply had to try! The voodoo vibe was in the air, we loved our haters so no voodoo dolls were needed! The weather may have been terrible but we kept it going down in the Deep South! New Orleans had us rolling on the Mississippi River, so we loved that waterfront with its steamboat style! 

Get it, Get it! 

Joseph Harrison 


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