jueves, 1 de marzo de 2012

Raising Awareness in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Welcome to my hometown!

Aguadilla was founded in 1775 and has been known as La Villa del Ojo de Agua (village of the eye of water), as El Pueblo de los Tiburones (town of the sharks), and recently as El Nuevo Jardín del Atlántico (the new garden of the Atlantic). It has been the recipient of the "Best Quality of Life Award", given by the National Mayor Association, in 2002 and 2004 and it is best known to visitors for its beautiful beaches.
I was lucky enough to go home for Christmas break and do a running tour of the town with my family. It took me a while to piece it all together but here it is. I hope you enjoy the tour.
My run is outlined in the map below and was approximately a 10km run. I started by the Aguadilla Airport, running past what I call the Runner’s Tree, down to Wilderness Shore Break, to the Aguadilla Lighthouse Ruins, back up the hill and through the Punta Borinquen Golf Club, through the Ramey Base running track, past the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla, and finally ending my run at the famous Surfer Beach.   

Aguadilla was home of the Ramey Air Force Base between 1936 and 1973. After World War II, the Air Force significantly expanded the Ramey Air Force Base for its new role as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber base. In 1971, the Coast Guard relocated its aviation units from San Juan and established the "Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen", taking possession of an outstanding number of hangars from the Air Force in Aguadilla. Two years later the Ramey AFB was closed by the Air Force as an active Air Force Base, part of a post-Vietnam War reduction-in-force (RIF) and in the late 1970’s the base was given to the town of Aguadilla for its care. The only remaining active duty military personnel are the members of the U.S Coast Guard stationed at the Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen.  

The former Ramey Air Force Base flight-line is now operated as a general aviation airport, named Rafael Hernandez International Airport, considered one of the most active commercial airports on the island:

Across the street from the airport runway is a tree known by some as the Runners Spirit. This tree was planted by the family members of a runner who was struck and killed by lightning, on that very spot, while on one of his daily runs.  

Next stop, Wilderness Shore Break!

Aguadilla has the most numerous beaches of all other municipalities and its beaches are well known as world class surfing beaches. The town hosts a variety of amateur and professional surfing events every year and has hosted a variety of championships, including the ISA world championships in 1968 and 1988. Famous surfing spots in Aguadilla include "Surfer's Beach", "Table Tops", "Gas Chamber", "Las Ruinas", and "Survival".

Wilderness Shore Break is also a very good beach for surfing, and relaxing.

To the left of Wilderness Shore Break is The Ruins, Las Ruinas. This structure was officially known as the Borinquen Point Lighthouse, built in 1889 by the Spanish and has been designated a historic site worthy of preservation by the National Register of Historic Places. It was made of brick and had a tower with the light and a living area for the light-keeper. Like many of the lighthouses of its time, it was pretty elaborate in architectural details. However, in 1918, there was a major earthquake in the north-west that severely damaged the lighthouse beyond repair. It was abandoned, and a new concrete lighthouse was built in 1922 by the US Coast Guard in a different location — a little more to the north-east of Aguadilla.

What remained of the ruins was left to be further destroyed by time and vandals but the views through the hollow windows to the west, overlooking the ocean are breathtaking. It’s a popular spot for wedding and graduation pictures.

The path to get to and from the Ruins is through a golf course, so on my way back up from visiting the Ruins I took a couple of pictures of Punta Borinquen Golf Club as well:

This is the first public golf course in Puerto Rico. It’s a par 72 course set atop a cliff side promontory, offering a view of the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.

Next stop was through the Ramey Base running track where I trained this past winter break with a former gold medal winning runner that represented Puerto Rico in several competitions.

Further along, I came across the University of Puerto Rico, a state university with a campus located in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico consists of 11 campuses that have recently faced what was named the 2010 – 2011 University of Puerto Rico Strike. This refers to the student strikes that began on April 21, 2010 as a 48-hour walk-out at the Rio Piedras campus and which quickly grew in size and support to 9 of the other campuses, to the point where some of the campuses were closed for up to 60 days. The students were opposed to tuition fee increases and demanded guarantees that campuses would not be privatized. When the administration refused to talk and negotiate with students an indefinite strike began that eventually died out in May 2011. Rumors persist of further strikes at the University of Puerto Rico.

 My run finally concluded at the Surfer’s Beach:

This beach is one of the most popular surf spots in the area. Local boys Jose Rodriguez, Guille Bermuda and Rafy Viella are credited as being the first to surf the north and northwest coasts but it was the 1968 World Surfing Championships that really put Puerto Rico on the surfing map, quickly earning the title of the "Hawaii of the Atlantic". The first Puerto Rican surfer to make a name for himself was Jorge Machuca, a 14-year-old in the '68 World Champs. Edwin Santos, Alberto Licha, and Juan Ashton were well known Puerto Rico competitors through the '70s and '80s. Today, there are another dozen or so sponsored and/or internationally known surfers, including Pipe chargers Carlos Cabrero and Otto Flores, and world traveling competitors Brian Toth and Dylan Graves.

As my run concludes, I want to thank all my supporters that are following my daily training on Twitter! And most importantly I want to give thanks to my siblings Laura Robert (running partner) and Carlos A. Robert (photographer), and my parents Maria del Carmen Rivera and Carlos Robert for completing this route with me and helping me out with the pictures.

Teen suicide is a reality for many families. Help prevent it. DONATIONS: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/christinaclancey/running4awareness

If you have enjoyed my blog and believe in my cause, please help me meet my goal of raising $3000 to support treatment and recovery for people suffering depression, addiction, self- injury and considering suicide by clicking on the link above. Donations made to my cause go directly to the non-profit organization 'To Write Love on Her Arms'. To view the finances of this organization, go to: http://www.twloha.com/finances/.

And don't forget to visit the Race4Awareness page and tell us if you are aware about Suicide.
The historical information for this blog was a compilation of information from a handful of websites including: http://www.topuertorico.org/city/aguadilla.shtml, http://www.surfline.com/travel/index.cfm?id=2726 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_University_of_Puerto_Rico_Strike which you can check out for more information.

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