I met Becca in the 3rd grade. She bullied me for a period of time after I took her spot as Class New Girl, and 15 years later we looked at each other and said “Let’s go to Puerto Rico.”
We wanted to feel the sun hit our bare shoulders one last time before the Midwestern winter choked us with our own turtlenecks and infinity scarves.
The plan was to get our rental car and explore El Yunque, the only rainforest on US Territory. From there we would head to the food kiosks at Luquillo, as we both needed – NEEDED – fried rabbit shanks.
As soon as the plane began descending we realized our dreams and our shanks were not to be.
It was raining hard when we landed but we figured that the clouds would part for we, the weather-impervious visitors. Only, this was Puerto Rico. A tiny island in the middle of the ocean. Rain is a way of life here, even for visitors.
Becca and I zipped out of the airport in our lime-green Kia and set our GPS to El Yunque. We could tell it would be a fun time because it was raining so hard that nobody could see!
Huge puddles became blinding waves as cars zoomed past our kiwi colored POWERHOUSE (I know, I said it was lime before. It’s both.) We were unapologetic about taking our time. You don’t want to mess with driving in Puerto Rico. Eventually, after lots of early breaking and screaming at the GPS, we found ourselves minutes away from El Yunque! Hoorah!
We drove up a narrow road and our surroundings became more mountainous and magical. The trees quickly turned into things from fairytales. It felt like an enchanted highway and we started to get excited, like we were about to stumble upon a Puerto Rican Hogwarts. We couldn’t wait to get inside the park! And then:
Closed. THE DAMN PARK WAS CLOSED. Word on the street (a sign in front of the park entrance) was that El Yunque was that the rain would make the park unsafe. We were bummed. This was to be a key point in our short trip and now it wasn’t even going to happen. After a few sad photos on the side of the road we decided that food make us forget.
It was pouring hard and Luquillo wasn’t an option, so we found a nice local restaurant close to the park. We pulled into to parking lot and realized the restaurant neighbored an alarmingly angry river. We joked that the car would be gone by the time we came back to it.
2 hours later our server told us to GET THE F*** OUT. The river was swelling, and it was a lot angrier than before.
She said that the rising water was washing out the road and if we didn’t leave we’d be stuck there all night. She was right. We left with uncertainty and came upon a bridge that was blanketed in rushing water. I wondered if our car would be swept away. That would ruin our plans.
Somehow we made it out alive and decided to ditch the car at the rental agency and focus on getting to Moonlight Bay Hostel in Fajardo. All we had to do was turn in our keys and we’d be on our way to dry clothes, a warm bed and a relaxing afternoon.
Heyyyyyyyyyy we were wrong. Returning the car turned out to be the biggest, bitchiest hurdle of the day. Here are a few quotes from the event to help illustrate:
- “Oh I’m sorry, I let all of my employees leave early so there is nobody here to help you.” – *Carla, the rental agency manager
- “You can return the car, but you’ll have to drive it to a resort 20 minutes away. Now let me give you rapid, verbal directions that neither of you will remember.” – *Carla, the rental agency manager
- “Oh you’re going to Vieques tomorrow? Let me tell you that no, you are not. The ferry workers are on strike so you won’t be able to get there. Oh, and planes don’r operate in this weather, so don’t even think of flying. Good luck byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye!” – *Carla, the rental agency manager
* names changed because we’re scared of Carla
Carla seemed to take great pleasure in letting us know that our plans were in shambles. It seemed like Carla was happy that we wouldn’t be able to get to Vieques the next day. Carla was kind of a bitch.
By the time we got to the hostel we were soaked and defeated. All day long, everyone kept telling us no. But we’re really great people so we did manage to draw some good from the day. 1) We booked a room with a TV, so we got to watch Mulan on Netflix. 2) The rain stopped at about 10pm, so we got to take a nice stroll around the block before bed.
And guess what? The next morning THERE was SUN and the FERRY WAS RUNNING and WE MADE IT TO VIEQUES and WE LAUGHED AT EVERYONE WHO TOLD US THAT OUR VACATION WAS RUINED! MAINLY YOU, CARLA. Why you so bitter, girl?!