Welcome to Puerto Rico by GPS


Photo of Orlando Mergal holding a Canon Camera. Courtesy of Puerto Rico by GPS.

Hi, my name is Orlando Mergal. Welcome to Puerto Rico by GPS!

If you’re planning to visit Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico by GPS is the place on the web where you can learn exactly how to get to most landmarks and attractions without asking anyone for directions, and —most importantly— without getting lost!

Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles, also known as the West Indies.  Our capital —Old San Juan— was established in 1508.  Old San Juan is the second oldest city in the western hemisphere and the oldest continuously inhabited city in U.S. territory. Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the capital of the neighboring Dominican Republic to our west, is older than Old San Juan by 12 years.  But hey, I like Old San Juan better.

What can I say?  I’m biased. I live here!

I was born in New York City.  But my parents, who were both born in Puerto Rico, returned to the Island when I was nine.  So I’ve lived all of my adult life on the Island of Enchantment, and of course, I know it inside out.

My formal training is in business communications.  But I’m also a professional landscape photographer by passion.  When I’m not working on one my many communications projects you’ll find me with a camera strap around my neck exploring my beautiful Puerto Rico. Many of those shots —including the one’s you’ll see on this site— are available for sale on our sister site Puerto Rico Photography.

So What Makes Puerto Rico By GPS  Different?

First, it’s not government sponsored.  Everything you see on Puerto Rico by GPS has been created by me: the photos, the copy, the gathering of information, the audio, the video, the maps… everything.  Second, I don’t —and I won’t— sugar-coat reality.  If something is beautiful and well maintained, I’ll tell you.  But if it’s dangerous or run down, I’ll tell you too.

ThirdPuerto Rico by GPS is an ongoing concern. So I’ll be constantly adding new information and updating anything that changes, for the better or for the worse.  I’ll visit interesting locations, interview the people in charge and add those interviews —in video or audio form— in the blog section.

But most importantly, the information on Puerto Rico by GPS will not be of the highly structured, denatured and “sanitized” variety found on many travel sites.  Here you’ll find the real thing: unadulterated, raw and real. That is my personal promise to you!

Puerto Rico has everything!

Puerto Rico is the ideal vacation destination. Where else can you find 16th Century Spanish Forts, the most beautiful and well-preserved colonial city in the Western Hemisphere, the only subtropical rainforest in U.S territory, one of the largest cave systems in the world, the largest single-dish radio telescope observatory on the planet, the best and most varied cuisine in the Caribbean, night life like you won’t believe and, of course, the most gorgeous beaches anywhere in the world? That’s right!  In Puerto Rico!

It’s all here!  But sadly, most people never get to experience it.  Most tourists visit Puerto Rico just for a day.  They arrive by ship, dock at San Juan bay, and spend around eight hours in the Old City.  That’s it!!! And, since many of them don’t know their way around, they generally see the two forts (San Felipe del Morro and San Cristobal) and spend the rest of the day wandering around the old city without grasping the full importance of what it is that they’re seeing.

Well, that’s what I’m here to change!

With Puerto Rico by GPS you’ll learn about every landmark and —most importantly— you’ll be provided with its exact location.  That way you’ll be able to enjoy it first hand, if you wish, and not just see it in pretty pictures.

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Click on the player and learn how to pronounce the name of each particular location in Spanish

You’ll also learn how to pronounce the name of each location correctly; in Spanish.  Underneath every headline you’ll see a small audio player. Hit the play button and learn how to pronounce it like the locals do.

And if you’re staying on the Island for a few days —or maybe even for a few weeks— you’ll get to see places that 99% of our visitors simply never get to see; places that make Puerto Rico the special destination that it really is; places that make it the shining star of the Caribbean!

So go ahead. Put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes, rub on some sunblock, grab your wide brim hat and a bottle of water, pop a fresh memory card in your camera, and let’s go. And if you’re even more adventurous, jump on a rental car, hit the road and lets explore sunny Puerto Rico together!


3 thoughts on “Welcome to Puerto Rico by GPS”

  1. Orlando, only 2 weeks till we head your way. Have certainly appreciated all the resources and advice you have provided. All set w/ wifi access, reservations, and possible restaurants. Being as photography is your area of expertise, could you tell me if my Sony DSC-H20 will automatically capture the aurora of the biobay, or will I have to manipulate it manually?? I have forgotten what little I once knew about speed and aperture settings. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jim

    1. Hi Jim:

      I’m glad to hear that you’re almost set to visit Puerto Rico. I hope you enjoy your stay.

      First of all, let me preface my answer with the following blank statement: “most nighttime photography is shot in manual mode”.

      Now, there’s a technical reason for that. When your camera meters a scene it tries to average it out to 18% gray. That’s more or less what you would get if you shot green grass in midday sunlight. But most of a nighttime scene isn’t green (or 18% gray for that matter). It’s black. Hence, trying to shoot a nighttime scene where there might be a multicolored aurora will only result in gray pictures with an overexposed aurora.

      When you talk about an aurora I’m imagining the afterglow that you get about half an hour after the sun goes down. If that’s the case, your best bet would be to shoot in manual mode and use a tripod. I can’t stress this enough. This type of shot will often be 1/4 of a second long or maybe even longer. So there’s no way you’ll hold your camera steady that long.

      Take, for example, the image of “Fort San Felipe Del Morro” that’s at the beginning of one of my latest posts “Old San Juan At Dusk”. That image was shot at ISO 160, with an aperture of f11.3 and at a shutter speed of 6 seconds. Without a tripod that shot would have been impossible.

      Oh, and don’t forget a cable release. At exposures that long even the slightest vibration will ruin your shot.

      You’ll also need to bracket. What’s that? Shoot a couple of frames above your “correct” exposure point (let’s say +1 and +2 stops) and a couple under. That way one of your shots will be perfect.

      Finally, I’m not sure if by “aurora” you were referring to the glow that you get in the water if you run your hands through it. If that’s what you would like to capture then that’s a totally different story.

      For starters you’ll need a high ISO because the tiny phytoplankton that produce that glow don’t put out that much light power . From there I would go with a shutter priority setting based on 1/125 or 1/60. And if your images come out a little overexposed dial in an exposure compensation of -1 or -2 stops.

      Puerto Rico is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities. So have fun and enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi,

    Looking forward to see more of your work. Love the fact that you are not “sugar-coating reality”. It is the only way I want it!

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