Saturday, September 03, 2011

Arriving in Puerto Rico

I don't know why, but I always get all sappy about going to Puerto Rico. My family has lost so much history by becoming disconnected from our distant Puerto Rican family. Even though I'm not visiting the places where my ancestors lived exactly, I can't help but look at the trees and hear the tree frogs and think that these were the same things they must have looked upon and heard so long ago.

I don't know why, but on both trips to Puerto Rico I've been especially taken by the clouds. Is there something about being an island, or maybe the weather patterns there, that generate such beautiful clouds with lots of stark contrasting colors? It always makes an impression on me.

The trip, however, got off to a rocky start.

I left Ryan and Sara's house in plenty of time to get to the airport. Everything seemed to be going so smoothly. We boarded the plane (I was to change planes in Miami), taxied out to the runway, and were at the very end of the runway where the white stripes are - right before you get your running start to leap into the sky. Suddenly, the plane was quiet and the lights went out - even the seatbelt sign lights. It was as if you were about to blow air into a balloon, but it had a hole in it and just went limp.

There were a few minutes of uneasy silence before the pilot came on and announced we had a mechanical problem. We'd have to go back to the gate.

Now, I'm the daughter of an airline pilot. When I was a kid my dad always had his own plane (the way some people have boats) and we flew all the time. Flying is not something that bothers me - but it was a little bothersome that we were so close to taking off before everything on the plane seemed to die.

We went back to the gate and every 15 minutes for an hour the pilot came on saying it was a minor problem and we'd be off soon.

Finally, the mechanics admitted defeat and we were deboarded. I was a little relieved as I wasn't feeling terribly confident about this plane!

By now it was clear that I'd miss my connection in Miami to San Juan. This was a problem on several fronts. When booking the tickets I'd learned there aren't a lot of options on a daily basis to get to Puerto Rico from Washington DC. Also, we'd timed my flight, Donna and Ashley's flight and Mervin's flight so we'd all arrive about the same time.

But what's a girl to do.

I had to go to baggage claim, reclaim the orange monster, and drag it back to the ticket counter where passangers from two cancelled flights (about 500 people) were in line to rebook our flights. American Airlines had four ticket agents for this mob - not to mention others coming to check baggage for outgoing flights.

A manager came along, saw my cane, and took me out of the line. I didn't complain. I hate using the vision, but honestly, I do fatigue easily and this exercise was wearing me out before we even got out of Washington. He personally rebooked me.

I then spent four hours hanging out in the airport, working on the HPS Newsletter by the way, before flying to New York to catch the flight to San Juan.

I got to San Juan about 8:00 pm, just seven and a half hours late. Donna and crew had to find a way to entertain themselves at the local mall so that they could come back to the airport and pick me up.

Finally, we were all loaded up in the vans ready to head to Caguas. If you don't know Donna well, then you might not realize that not only does Donna absolutely hate to fly, but she also doesn't particularly like to drive either.

She really doesn't like to drive in Puerto Rico, a foreign place to her, in a rental van she's not used to driving. To make it worse, a storm hit and sheets and sheets of rain were pooring down. She was trying to read street signs and follow Ivette in the van in front of us, but the rain made it so hard to see. And of course, myself, Ashley and Mervin - three blind folks, were soooooo much help.

When Donna got to the hotel, I am not kidding to say that she kissed the ground she was so happy to be there! Nothing like starting out the trip with a bang!!!!

Okay....more on the first day later.....

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