The Trip Begins

First thing we had to do was get to Puerto Rico. Neither of our boys had ever flown, except when Auggie was a little tiny baby, and that was a bit of a nightmare. The bonus was that both boys were totally jazzed about flying on a plane. Both were totally cool through both legs of the journey and couldn’t have handled it better.

Arriving in Puerto Rico, there’s one thing that either I hadn’t fully processed, or that was under represented in the stuff I read. This is a Spanish speaking island. Yes, many people also speak English, but certainly not everybody, and almost none of the signs are in English. Beth right away says, I wish we’d been more serious about learning some Spanish. Ah well, we just put our shoulder into it and headed off, picked up a rental car and got rolling, thanks to the good coverage of AT&T and the heaven sent GPS of the iPhone.

Our travelling companions had been talking to somebody during the layover in Charlotte and mentioned that we were headed to Puerto Rico. “Oh, they drive crazy down there, nothing like here in the states, be careful.” We laughed about that, at least until we started driving. Because we were trying to avoid some traffic, we started off detouring through some San Juan surface streets, and it became immediately apparent that we were in a foreign land. Thank god for the hours I’ve spent playing Need For Speed, Colin McRae Rally, and GT Racing. Because I immediately needed all of it. Drivers don’t so much stop at side streets as use their cars to menace you into letting them out. Drivers will suddenly swerve or slow down without reason or warning. You’ll see cars here that you haven’t seen on the road in the states in 20 years. I saw not one but two Datsun B210’s. And it’s not like these have been kept in some kind of vintage auto collection, they’ve been driven and crashed a lot.

The paradise of Shack’s Beach was advertised as being 90 minutes from the airport, but really, with the drivers we saw, I don’t think you could make it in less than 2 hours. If it’s offered by your car rental company, I highly recommend getting the toll pass. Waiting to pay the exact tolls at the booths seemed to stack up cars 10 deep every time. By getting the electronic pass, you could jump past 40 or 50 of these potential maniacs in one fell swoop. The driving is better on the 2 lane highways of the country, just because there’s fewer places for people to come at you from, but if you’re driven crazy by people going slow in the left lane so you have to pass on the right, chomp some valium before getting behind the wheel.

Once off the main roads, the other thing of note is that some of these streets are narrow. We didn’t come across any gravel roads or anything like that, but it was not uncommon to encounter roads that were only a lane and half wide or less. Combine this with the unpredictability of the oncoming drivers, and you can see how that can cause some tension. Pulling up to the house at the end was probably less climatic than it should have been, just because I was glad to be off the road, and the place looked every bit as advertised.

We got unpacked, and decided our first stop was going to be at Ola Lola’s. One of the thing that finally sealed the deal of us coming to Shack’s Beach.