My first week was exciting, stressful and hectic. Every morning I could feel the sea breeze, while I contemplated a beautiful landscape and diverse “sanjuanera” baroque – neoclassical architectures that approach the conservation workshop, San Juan National Historic Site, known as the “Polvorín”, located to the left of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.


Basically I know the route well, because I previously worked as a volunteer in historical research on the origin and the restoration of the Ordóñez cannon. Unfortunately, the conservation team noticed that the shop was robbed, however, it did not stop us continuing to work on the research project.

The project currently has six participants. They include the conservation chief, Cesar Piñeiro, the conservation scientist, Johnny Lugo-Vega, the chemical engineer, Dr. Esteban Rosim Fachini, the NPS mason, José Collazo, a graduate student in anthropology from Albright College, Claire Barnwell and the graduate student in art history at the University of Puerto Rico, Marta Zayas (me).

Conservation TEAM

From left to right: José Collazo, Claire Barnwell, Marta Zayas (me) and Professor Cesar Piñeiro.

That week was important because there was an orientation, and a demonstration of materials handling in the conservation workshop by Professor Cesar Piñeiro. While I enjoyed the new experience, new people, new culture and new environment. I immediately learned other types of safety trainings according to the “OSHA” and “EPA” rules. The certified instructor, Professor Johnny Lugo, taught the training.

Professor Johnny Lugo giving the safety training techniques.

Upon receiving a set of instructions in order to perform cleanup, rehabilitation and maintenance gardening, we get straight to work. The conservation scientists discuss and collaborate with regards to new innovative treatments to restore and preserve historical artifacts. During the practice time in which my partner, Claire, and I work hard at the same time, developed a beautiful friendship.

Finally, I received an interesting educational tour of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal by the curator of the park Jan Torres and historian Eric López. I could appreciate the importance of much of the ecosystems in the San Juan National Historic Site was a moment of relaxation invaded by the sounds of the sea and the nature and birdsong.

It was an adventure of personal growth, performing a physical challenge I could experience sharing with others, in which unforgettable learning takes place and hopefully will return again to share more experiences.

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