My experience with the ghosts of Hotel El Convento
In 2010 while on vacation in Puerto Rico I had an experience that shook me to the core and I’m going to tell you about it. I haven’t shared this story much; I don’t know why it was hard to verbalize. Many of you might think I’m off my rocker, I am hesitant but at the same time feel compelled to tell this story. I don’t know if it was supernatural or maybe my subconscious reconciling the day’s experiences but whatever it was it spooked me and at the same time had me vibrating with excitement.
A few years ago Janet and I went on a Southern Caribbean cruise with stops in St. Thomas, St.Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Barbados and St. Maartens. It was one of the best trips we every had, an absolute blast touring these tropical paradises. Just the right mix of relaxation, partying with new friends and sight-seeing.
The trip began on land in Puerto Rico where we stayed in the more modern Condado area at the very hip Condado Plaza Hotel. It was on our very first night, at about 1 am as we were just settling down when all of a sudden the closet doors and hangers began to swing and the bed shook like a scene from the exorcist. We took a minute to process it but soon realized we had just experienced an earthquake, the first one to hit this area in years. It was a little nerve-racking but we continued on with a great vacation.
We set sail and toured all the Islands I mentioned with some great experiences at every stop, the cruise concluded back in Puerto Rico where my experience took place. This time we stayed in the old San Juan area figuring we had started with the new and modern and would end with old and historical. We booked at a great hotel called the Hotel El Convento , it was one of the most enchanting places we’ve stayed and is rated the only ‘Small Luxury Hotel’ in Puerto Rico. The hotel is a fantastic example of my absolute favorite architectural style of old Spanish colonial, it’s absolutely beautiful with great services and amenities. They have a roof top patio and wine bar where every evening we’d gather with other tourists over some complimentary wine and cheese to discuss the day. It also has a lovely open central courtyard that at night twinkles with lights strung amongst its many trees, one of them over 300 years old. During a tropical downpour we would sit and have a coffee watching the stormy show from a covered veranda into the courtyard. Every evening we’d conclude our day as a classical guitarist would setup in the park out front of the hotel. We’d have a nightcap on the balcony and listen to him serenade the passersby below. It was absolutely magical and one of the most romantic places we’ve stayed, if you get the chance you have to stay here.
On our very last night after our serenade we settled in with a night-cap and into a sound slumber. I must have been tired and went into one of those deep, dream inducing states and I had a doozer! I remember the dream vividly but it was one of those dreams that seems so real but at the same time doesn’t make any sense. It was the most disturbing dream I ever had and it shook me up.
From the bits and pieces I can put together, the dream started with me in a war zone many years ago. Canons and muskets were going off, people were fighting, injured and dying with blood everywhere. All of a sudden I was holding my son in my arms and he was badly injured, bleeding profusely. I was screaming as I picked him up and ran for help. Now I was in a modern-day hospital running down the corridors looking for someone to help me. I ran past bloodied people everywhere lining the hallways on beds and stretchers as they cried out for help. I ran down many hallways, each one a section divided by swinging doors that kept leading to another hallway. As I ran from door to door the hospital was getting older and older in style and I sensed that I was running through time. My son kept bleeding more and more as I panicked with the realization he was dying. As I ran through the last door into a dark old hospital room surrounded by beds and lit by candles, I was met by a nurse followed by four others. Suddenly I woke up and sat straight up in bed, my heart was thumping, tears running down my cheeks and I was covered in sweat. I heard female voices or sensed that there was more than one in the room. One of them said to me ‘don’t be afraid, just acknowledge the history of this place’.
Chills ran down my spine and the hairs on my body felt electrified as I quickly turned on the lights and woke Janet up. I was flipped out and had to tell her about my experience and dream. I told her that I knew what had happened here, some of the history this hotel had endured. I told her the nuns who lived here many years ago had showed me that this place had been a hospital for triage of the wounded soldiers from the many battles the convent had seen. The place had witnessed a lot of tragedy in it’s many years, tragedy they hoped it would never see again. I told her ‘call me crazy’ but we have to look into the hotels history in the morning.
When we were checking out we asked the front clerk if she had information on the history of the hotel/convent and she gave us a brochure. It read verbatim to what I had told Janet and we were both freaking out. The dream was disturbing; the voices could be chalked up to me still being half a sleep, although I’d swear I was wide awake. The details however, matching up to the actual history? That was freaky!
The Haunted History
The hotel was a former Carmelite convent and has been situated in the old walled city since 1651. It was then inaugurated as The Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San Jose but better known simply as the Carmelite Convent. The area had witnessed many bloody battles as the gateway to the Caribbean and the convent was used as a triage center and hospital during those tragic battles.
I hadn’t thought much of this experience until now, having just decided to write about it and doing some Internet research. I now know who the nun was that spoke to me!
Researching the hotel, it is apparently considered one of the most haunted sites in Puerto Rico. I didn’t know that until now. There was a noblewoman named Dona Ana de Lansos y Menendez de Valdez, she was the granddaughter of Don Diego Menendez de Valdez, a captain general of the Spanish army and governor of Puerto Rico from 1582 to 1593. She was married to Captain Pedro de Villate Escovedo and inherited a vast fortune when her young husband died in 1625 following an attack by the Dutch. She was childless and resided across from the cathedral. On the property were two other houses, Dona Ana provided them as a war hospital and religious school which were destroyed by the war-torn island.
Grief stricken she decided to donate her home, land and all worldly possessions to have a convent erected on the site where she had lived with her beloved husband. She petitioned then King Phillip IV and was granted the establishment of a convent, a move hailed by many to be a great contribution. The soldiers of Colonial Spain that were garrisoned in the Old City, erected the three-story building which was designed by an army engineer.
Dona Ana was the first to join the cloister followed by her sister Antonia and four others. Soon after she became the Mother Superior to the other nuns who occupied the building for many years. The area served as a stronghold against Spain’s enemies, the French, Dutch and English. The hostilities it endured greatly reduced the marriage prospects for the women of the island, many of them were widowed and now had a place to go into the cloistered confines of the convent. For the next 250 years the sisters of the Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San Jose would pursue their lives of faith, contemplation and service. They are rumored to still silently walk the halls of the hotel, the only sound being the swishing of their robes- but she spoke to me!
You decide for yourself what my experience was all about. It would be really interesting if anyone who’s had a similar experience to comment on my post, especially if you’ve been to the Hotel El Convento and experienced something similar. Now contemplating it, the dream was meant to have me feel the deep tragedy and loss that so many experienced during that tumultuous time. ‘Don’t be afraid, just acknowledge the history of this place’
I have to say I’m a bit nervous about our future travels to Europe, the homes and old buildings we’ll be bunking down in. They have so much history and perhaps spirits surrounding them. Just so happens we’ll be in Edinburgh, Scotland on all Hallows Eve, Oct.31/16 wandering the Royal Mile which is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Scotland. There is a portion of the walled city that was closed off during the Black Plague and was the site of many terrible deaths, it is supposedly haunted by those herded here to die.
Stay posted following Halloween night and I’ll let you know if I channel anything!