17 April, 2019

Old Town #AtoZChallenge

Ruth was walking through the historic "Old Town" district. The tour group she was traveling with was off on some other jaunt, bumping along in the large, air-conditioned tour bus, but Ruth wanted to really experience the ancient culture she was in. Tours were great for getting a trip organized, but since they would be two nights in this city, she made her own plans for this day. She'd rejoin them tomorrow when they headed up the coast to the next place.

She had taken a taxi from the hotel into the heart of Old Town, planning to spend the day on foot, visiting the old fort, the ancient port and its attendant shopping district. The architecture, the history, the smell of the salty air - Ruth much preferred seeing these things at her own pace, rather than follow a guide who would decide what they saw and for how long.

First stop, the Fort. She walked along the cobblestone streets of Old Town, down to the waterfront. The ancient building showed its age, along with some obviously modern renovations to keep the structure standing. 

Ruth admired the crenelations atop the fortress in the center of the complex, taking several pictures as she walked past the entrance to the wall at the edge of the complex. Reaching the wall, she looked down to the waves crashing against the rip-rap at the base. 

She breathed deep the luscious ocean breeze and exhaled an audible sigh. Heaven. One quick selfie with ocean and fortress in her background, and then she headed inside. 

Inside the fort, Ruth took the obligatory photos of the museum pieces and historical placards, but found herself marveling more at the beauty of how age shows itself in stone and wood. 
The smooth-worn wooden beams.
Efflorescence whitening masonry all over the outer walls.
Ancient footprints preserved in the stonework of the floor.

Age was beauty. It was a different kind of beauty, but the patterns of wear and tear made their marks as if Father Time was an artist creating a masterpiece that only he could make. Some of the younger members of the tour group tried to talk her out of going solo today. They thought an "old woman" shouldn't wander on her own. If they could see the beauty of this old fort, maybe they would recognize how mistaken they were. 

Outside the fort, walking toward the port and shops, Ruth stopped for another selfie, this one with no scenic background, just an aging, efflorescent wall behind her. Age and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later. 

Today's post was inspired by the prompt "efflorescence", suggested by Nilanjana Bose (of Madly-in-Verse), given in comments on my M post (here).


  1. It almost felt like you were writing about Viejo (Old) San Juan.

    The fortress
    The coast
    The museums

    Quite nostalgic

  2. Evocative! I was reminded of Alexandria. Age is, indeed, beauty.

  3. Brett - I liked keeping it vague enough that any reader could think of a place they know.

    Nilanjana - See my comment to Brett, above. In a longer work, of course location would be defined. History hardens and softens in measure.

    John - Thanks! And thanks for visiting.

  4. Agree 100%. Age and beauty can also go hand in hand. Only the eyes which sees them can understand the true beauty

  5. That does sound really beautiful! I love old/ ancient places. You did a great job describing this.

    For audience participation, I suggest the number 13 and a cat. 🐈

    Thanks for your comment at Uniquely Maladjusted but Fun!

  6. Suhavijay - There is a famous photographer who lives in my city in Vietnam. He takes close ups of faces - often old, wrinkled, care-worn faces. The images are dramatic and beautiful.

    Jamie - I live in an ancient city in Vietnam. Age brings in people from all over the world. It is its own kind of beauty. Thanks for the suggestions! (And I am really looking forward to stopping by your blog with more time.)

  7. It is good to get away from tour groups every so often. She had a nice explore on her own.

  8. What a lovely story, I really enjoyed it.
    I'm with Ruth - I prefer to explore on my own instead of in a formal tour. Yes, there are pieces of information that I might miss & never learn, but I think my whole experience and involvement is much richer.

  9. Liz - I only used a guided tour once, when we visited Taiwan, to get the easiest way to see major highlights of the whole island. They gave us reasonable free time in each city, so that was good.

    Trisha - My husband and I generally prefer that as well. We want to take time at the sites WE choose. Thanks for visiting!


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.