I like to run on golf courses in the morning. The best time is just before dawn, when the air is calm and dew still coats the empty fairways. As a courtesy - and an acknowledgment that while golf courses are some of the best and most enjoyable places on earth to run, they are still golf courses - I don't leave footprints in sand traps or run across greens and tee boxes, and I do, above all, avoid contact with any individual related to the game of golf. This goes double at any course with resort in its title. Strictly speaking, it is apparently illegal to run on a golf course, as any number of marshals, groundskeepers, and actual golfers have informed me. Yet some of my best workouts are on those morning runs. I also have seen and experienced some rather surreal occurrences at that time of day.
But we'll get back to that later.
Where I'm going with all this, in a very roundabout way, is Puerto Rico.
Situated in the Greater Antilles, it's the fourth-largest island in the Caribbean, after Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. First settled by an Archaic culture known as the Ortoiroid over 4,000 years ago, Puerto Rico became known to Europeans when Christopher Columbus discovered it on his second voyage. Legend has it that the crew of Columbus's fourth voyage, traumatized by that journey's brutal nature, were so terrified of sailing home to Spain that they stayed in Puerto Rico (which means "rich port"), thus becoming the island's first serious colonists. In time, the port at San Juan became a cornerstone of Spain's Caribbean empire. Vast citadels were built to keep away intruders. And while the Dutch, English, and French all made attempts to conquer the island over the centuries, it wasn't until the United States' successful invasion during the Spanish-American War that Spain's long-held bastion fell. Even now, Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth; its citizens carry American passports, vote in national elections, and use the American dollar as their currency.