It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico in a rain…yesterday.  What a long day.  Got up early at home in Cayucos.  Hit the trail at 3 p.m. heading toward LAX.  Even with the late start, we hit traffic in L.A.  What a town.  Registered and parked the car at the Hacienda and took a shuttle to the airport.  It was by now 8 ish.  Our flight was 11:55 p.m.

We had the luck of getting a gate in the worst terminal at LAX.  Two restaurants and one was a Burger King which really doesn’t fit the description of restaurant.  So we went to the restaurant, Goldsteins, or Goldfish or something like that.  It was a “fish house”.  The highlight of the trip occurred there.  Ray got carded when he ordered a Manhattan.  She must have been desperate for a tip.  Then again, my spirits sagged.  I ordered water but when we we ordered wine, she didn’t CARD me.  Suspicions confirmed.  I look like his mother.  Oh, well.

To pass the time, we lingered over halibut, sent the cold rice back and got fries instead and sat watching the man on the tarmac fuel a giant plane.  Did you know that it takes over an hour to fuel one of these babies?

He really put on quite a show.  Completely purposeful just like you like a jet fueler to be.  While fueling, these guys also have a big responsibility filling out oodles of paperwork.  Who knew.  And then there were signatures to secure, cones to move.  He did all that while the baggage guys loaded the bags, the supervisor ran around looking purposeful.  The sup had to sign the forms the fueler filled out.  Set to music, it would have been a concerto in e flat.  Anyway, I digress.

After having milked the best seat in the house to observe the aforementioned ritual, we paid the billed and looked for our gate.  No wi-fi.  Our terminal sucked.  It’s because we flew Air Tran and we figured out that was a low cost airline and the terminal was a low cost terminal.  But, alas, we boarded, took our pills and off we went on time and safely.

The only thing I remember on the flight was 1.  how uncomfortable the “business class” seat was  2.  the turbulence over the Rockies  3.  the man in front of me getting sick.  Enough said.

We arrived and headed to the Dollar Rent-a-Car counter.  In Puerto Rico, you have to wade through the insurance labyrith.  By this I mean they don’t fool around.  This involved among other things the lady behind the desk calling our insurance agent and then demanding a $500 deposit because we were insured???  Having driven one evening around San Juan, we completely understand why.  OMG.  The roads are either in need in repair or under repair.  Does the word “pothole” mean anything to you?  And then there was the fact it was raining cats and dogs and we couldn’t see anything in the side mirrors on our under-equipped Kia.  Oh, that and our GPS didn’t work and we didn’t bring the address of where we were staying with us…it was a miracle Ray found our way home.

We are staying in a condo that I found on the web, VRBO.  Vacation rentals by owner I think is the name of the website.  Anyway, it was only $190 total for two nights and much less expensive than the hotels.  I’m lucky Ray has ruled out divorce.  He was a reluctant renter to begin with but I assured him everything would be fine.  So this is how it went.

We called Jose, the condo owner from the Dollar desk and told him we were leaving the car rental place.  Perfect, he said.  Well, it would have been perfect but Glenda, the GPS unit, thought we were in Chicago and we couldn’t talk her out of it.  So, we resorted to a, horror of horrors, a map.  Well, we had a hard time and Jose called and asked where we were…like we knew?  Streets in San Juan rarely have signs so finding your way with a map is impossible.  We described where we were and he said we were near.  Finally, after circling the block looking for the place, he stepped into the road and flagged us down (it was raining and his shirt was soaked).  And Jose was not Jose.  Javier met us.  Nice guy but wanted cash to finish the deal.  We gave him cash but he had no way to give us a receipt…so he called Jose and Jose told Javier to give us our cash back.  Ray talked to Jose and we agreed that Jose would come by on Sunday and if the apartment was in good repair, we would pay an additional $40 and the deed would be done.  Perfecto.

The thing about the apartment is that it was located in a 10 story building and we were on the 8th floor with a good view of things which included the rooftops of the buildings below us.  Mold grows everywhere.  The most prevalent type of roof is a flat roof.  So we were looking down on flat roofs and were gray and white, the gray being mold.  There was also a resident chicken below along with a bunch of dogs that loved to bark.  Our apartment must have been outfitted at Ikea.  The only piece of furniture that was comfortable was the bed.  There were two overhead fans in the “great room” and an air conditioner in the bedroom that went off when it felt like it.  What a hoot.  Poor Ray stuck with me and my bright ideas.  Oh, well.  He took it in stride.

Here’s Ray on the balcony of the apartment.

Yesterday we walked all around Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan), the tourist section of town.  Outside of Old San Juan (read our neighbor where the people live), San Juan is rather poor.  Streets are narrow, rutted and many are one way which we found out as we turned up them going the wrong way on two occasions.  Things are not labeled as I reported earlier and people are not shy about shouting and honking if you’re in their way.  All in all an adventure.  I’m pretty sure the car we were driving had a sign that said “hit me” on it.  Seems we were constantly ducking and dodging other cars trying to avoid disaster ($500 was on the line)!!

It’s hot and muggy here which makes a mojito taste really, really good so I drank my share of them!!  There are lots of tapas bars which is a fine idea because when you are this hot and sweaty, who needs a big heavy meal?

A mojito kind of place with tapas.  Yummy!!

Did I mention the bidet?  The apartment had one and neither Ray nor myself had ever used one so Mr. Ray decided to give it a go.  He had water almost to the ceiling of the bathroom.  Enough said.

This is also a very bi-lingual society.  You can watch a program in english on the tellie and a commercial will burst in with espanol!!  Most people in old San Juan are bi-lingual, most outside the tourist area speak spanish.  We know this because we went to a super market to buy some food.  and that is a good segue into dinner last night.  After wandering old San Juan and visiting the fort and having a drink, we were too tired to stay for dinner.  It was only 4:30 and too early so we decided to hit the trail, go back to our apartment and eat “locally”.  Uhm.  Easier said that done.  Our life was a mess.  Glenda, the GPS, was on the fritz.  It still said we were in Chicago.  We spent 45 minutes using Starbucks wi-fi to try to figure out how to unconfuse her to no avail.  So when we returned to the apartment I changed the country from Puerto Rico to Portugal.  But, wtih Portugal came Portuguese.  EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK.  Now I had the task of getting her back to Puerto Rico in english.  God, life is so hard with all these gadgets designed to make things easier.  Bottom line, I DID IT!!  and Glenda was now in Puerto Rico.  And english was too.  But there was one other complication.  Our apartment didn’t have wi-fi so we had to resort to our book.  We found a restaurant, entered the address into Glenda and jumped in the car.  We found a place to park but we had no change for the meter.  We drove by the address.  No restaurant.  We wandered around looking for something.  Discouragement set in.  It was time for drastic measures.  We went to the super market and bought cooked chicken, rice and beans and fresh pineapple and came back to the apartment and had dinner.  Fairly disgusting.  Oh, well.  Tomorrow is another day.

Dinner at the Ritz!!  Served on early American styrofoam.  The apartment setting was complete with laundry hanging around the kitchen.  Hey, you do what you have to do.  The clothes, by the way, took forever to dry rendering the apartment to look like a Chinese laundry almost the entire time.

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