Vacation over. Drats. It just went way too fast. I really don’t understand how its already over. So weird. But its time to try to recollect what happened and write it down, if for no other reason than posterity. Let’s start with the first day.
Day #1: Logan Airport. I would like to imagine that day one could be entitled “arriving” or something like that.. but we didn’t quite arrive. It just all started out wrong. R & i were up till 4 packing. Our cab arrived at 5:30 and left without us. Yes, that is 5:30 AM. So we missed the cab. And no cab in Cambridge seems to want to make pickups in Somerville so we spent half the morning trying to track down a cab. New cab arrives at 6 and we make it to Logan by 6:30 for a 7AM international flight. Not a good way to start. Of course, i am nautious from having not slept or eaten, having rushed and carried luggage, too much tension. But in the scheme of things, it didn’t really matter. We boarded our plane without problem, even found overhead storage for the bag of sand castle toys that didn’t fit in any bag. I proceeded to immediatey fall asleep. But the goddesses weren’t with us. Someone in row 18 found a crack – a huge crack – in the window of row 18. So everyone deboarded. And guess what? They didn’t have another plane… so people rush around, making new arrangements. We talk kindly to the desk people in the next station and they put us on the 11:54 plane to San Juan. There’s an 8:20 but its completely booked. The folks tell us that we should be able to make the last flight to Point-A-Pitre (6:45 PM) if we get on the noon flight. So we take it.
And then there’s the 8:20 flight. They finally board, fully booked, at 10:30. Damn Boston weather. In the meantime, R & i play scrabble, sleep.. or actually, i sleep while he kindly picks up the luggage and transports it to the other flight.. i have no idea about this until afterwards as i fell asleep immediately upon sitting. So.. the 8:20/10:30 flight.. out on the runway.. broken valve. Entire flight returns. We see them rushing towards Gate 18 and figure that we should see if there are empty seats. Oh.. i should backtrack. This flight had been moved from Gate 29 to Gate 25 earlier because the connecty thing (you know, the mechanical hallway that you use to get on to the plane) could not properly attach itself due to the winds. Well, they returned to Gate 21 and now everyone was headed to Gate 18. Plane number two broken for the day. Only at Gate 18, plane number three breaks. The 8:20/10:30/rearrived flight is now cancelled, due to a fire in the kitchen. People are hysterical.
By now, the 11:54 flight has turned into a 1:45 flight, scheduled to arrive in San Juan at 6:45, same time as our departure to PTP. We know this is not going to be good. As we have already scored vouchers for lunch, we find out about vouchers for our probable stay in San Juan, of which they happily inform us that they will provide since our flight(s) have been cancelled due to mechanical failure. Well, we board the 11:54/1:45 flight and (miraculously) take off without problem.. of course, at 2:15. So, we are no longer scheduled to arrive in San Juan at 6:45, but instead at 7:15. Thank goodness for on-flight phones. We call American Airways who happily tells us our flight wll be leaving from San Juan to PTP at 7:25, but that they won’t hold it for us. We land. I jump over 25 people and rush for the front. I only get to row 12 on my own and then have to wait as others deboard. I make a run from Gate 14 to Gate 2, as does R (with all of our stuff). We arrive at Gate 2 as the door is closing and the oh-so-nonchalent attendent tells us that he’s sorry but the flight is closed and we have missed it by approximately 45 seconds. Erg.
So, we get a voucher for a hotel, cab, food, etc. in San Juan with the promise of a 8:55 AM flight. We think this is odd since everyone in Logan tells us there are only two PTP flights a day – 1:07 and 6:45. Oh well… we take the voucher. Its a gorgeous hotel, a casino, but more than acceptable for a nice nite’s stay in San Juan. Food and sleep are our agenda. We have no clothing, no luggage, only scrabble.
Day #2: Late Arrival. 6:45 AM wakeup call. Grunts from both parties. Breakfast in bed ($45) and a rush to the airport. Good arrival. I look at the board and at first don’t see an 8:55 flight to PTP, only a 1:07.. but then i see it, or so i think. We head to Gate #2, our friend. Funny that – the 8:55 flight goes to Puerta Pointe.. must be on the way to PTP. And then we see the map. Gate #2 has kindly provided us with a map of all of the Caribbean, showing that Puerto Rico is happily situated between Puerta Pointe and Pointe-A-Pietre. Erg? As we go to board the plane, we realize that our tickets are not for PTP but Puerta Pointe. Figures. So.. more vouchers for food, cabs, etc. They send us to the Wyndham in San Jose suggesting that we sit on a beach (hotels are full so we can’t sleep away the next 5 hours, sadly). So, in jeans, sweaters, and with our bag of sand toys, head to the Wyndham. And damn – ain’t it just the fanciest hotel i have ever seen, complete with large busts of dead white people and gold trimmed everything. So, looking like we don’t belong, we head through the lobby, out the back door, down the stairs to the beach – “hotel residents only”. We ignore the signs but a gentleman stops us just as we are getting on the beach. We explain our woes, that all we want to do is sleep on the beach before we have to go back to the airport, and then pay $36 to get beach chairs and an umbrella so that we can sleep on the beach. I find a local vendor, purchase a dress and proceed to fall asleep under the umbrella.
Back to the airport. This time, there is no hassle.. we board and arrive without a hitch. Upon arriving, i quickly learn that this isn’t just a French speaking island – this is a French-only island.. no one speaks English. So, we struggle through our French, get our car and head for the hotel. Gorgeous view… beaches.. and its warm. Ah.. this is the Caribbean. Guadeloupe, our temporary home.
The lady at the hotel is fabulous and shows us our small but reasonable bungalow – no normal amenatities but definitely acceptable, and about a minute walk to the beach. Ahh.. We settle in, douse ourselves in suntan lotion and aim for the beach. Swimming, relaxing, chilling.. ah.. And then there’s juice – fabulous jus.. all ordered in French without much help from me.
We settle in, find food, make up our new home and make lists of what we need to purchase to get by, vowing to find a WalMart or equivalent. We call the girls, ask them to bring stuff and warn them of potential travelling difficulties. And then.. Early to bed..
Day #3: The girls arrive. Up in the morning, relaxed.. We eat cereal and head for the beach for a swim and some reading. Ah.. so nice, so relaxing. And then we try to motor, find a WalMart equivalent after a few mistakes (and the realization that all stores are closed between 1 and 3 PM – siesta time, i guess). We pick up two very exhausted girls and go back to our home, welcoming them. I am still slightly neurotic since i have had too much travelling and confusion. I try to settle into island life but it takes some time. We play boggle, eat more yumptious food in Cafe Maria and read ourselves to sleep. Relaxing day.
Day #4: Naked beach scares. After yet another morning of relaxing beach sleeping and swimming, Scrabble and boggle, we each lunch (always takes like 3 hours in this relaxing place) and head for a Naked beach up the island. It rains on the way so we only take our suits and 1/2 of our towels and head for the naturist space. Now, i am not one to be bothered by naked beaches. Hell, since we are on a French island, we have been topless the whole time anyhow.. but this naked beach was definitely that – not a naturalist beach, not a relaxing clothing optional space, no.. it was a _naked_ beach. H leaves her glasses in the car, so she’s oblivious. H & R rush off to the water, a place with depth and waves (which our beach has neither). M & i sit down as we are cold and still a bit uncertain of the water. And everyone stares. Given, M is only 1/8 Asians we see on the island the whole week, and we are only 3/6 women we see on the beach anyhow (compared to about 40 men). But still. And do they stare. This one man, with a rather long cock, doesn’t even turn his eyes away when i stare back. He just smiles. Eek. And these two men watch us intently. R&H try to get us in the water but we balk and balk and finally i give in if M will go, which she will just to watch me squirm. So, naked us run into the water. And the eyes follow. To make matters worse, there is the guy in the bushes. This guy, covered to his head, stands in the bushes watching us intently, never moving or changing his gaze. Eek. Finally, we get out of the water. The eyes follow. I note that another man sitting on the beach is staring at us and rubbing his hand against his naked and enlarged crotch. I cringe. Hannah goes to put on her bathing suit top and another guy gives her a thumbs up. I look at R (who has not noticed any of this) and reply simply with “No more naked beaches”. He doesn’t understand but appeases me.
I still haven’t managed to relax.
In the eve, more boggle, more reading, more food.. This time: crepes.. yummy…
Day #5: Scuba makes me begin to relax. Bright and early in the morning, we are up and bouncing. We happily eat cereal, lounge at home reading, cleaning, and whatnot. And then we make our trek across the island to the other part of the butterfly islands. All the way across to the scuba place. Oh scuba. I am neurotic the whole way, and anxious. Can’t wait for scuba. We check in, have another long meal at this poshy restaurant next to the scuba place (where everyone stares at the funny Americans who can’t order food and who share main dishes). We douse ourselves in suntan lotion and board the boat for scuba. Now… they said that lessons could be done in English, but let me tell you – its broken English. So we get French lessons for scuba.. oh boy. We have to snorkle, waiting for our turn, but finally, we go underwater. Ahh.. relaxation.. mind chilling, watching the gorgeous fish swim past me, floating underwater, content and at peace, happily seeing the coral and the rainbow fishes, so happy.
When i return to land, i have significantly relaxed and i vow to focus on chilling.
We spend the rest of the afternoon at a nearby beach, relaxing and reading. I vow to sit in the backseat of the car and stop being neurotic about where we are. Relaxation begins.
Day #6: The expected burn. We wake up, relax at our beach and then head for another beach, supposedly a gorgeous one recommended by the funny French folks at the scuba place. And he is totally right. Its gorgeous, with waves and depth. Totally appropriate beach. We camp out and begin lounging, reading our books, playing boggle, diving into the water to cool down every half hour. We take long swims, and short periods outside. I lather up with suntan lotion 3 times (everyone else once). Around 3PM, i am convinced that i am burning. R looks at me and laughs, saying if i am burnt, i am burning without turning red. Somehow, i know its a coming.
Around 4 we decide to get out of the sun and head for one of the waterfalls.. And that’s when we start to notice.. We are burnt.. not just any burn, burnt. I am the least of the crispy critters, but i make up for it in rashes everywhere, and my bug bites have gotten worse. We definitely look like the Americans with burn problems. And poor M was wearing a top so she has marks everywhere. And do we look silly. R gets it pretty bad, but his skin will recover easy. Damn Middle Eastern skin.
We never make it to the waterfalls, in part because of a necessary stop at la pharmacia and because of my feeling that i don’t want to walk 30 minutes in the dark. But, we find a patch for H & M to do a bit of hiking, way back in the middle of nowhere in the rainforest. But its a short hike, mostly because i am scared that we don’t belong and i am uncomfortable going off-trail for fear of hurting myself… but its all good.
And then there’s the milk place. We stop at Basse-Terre to find food and pee, and find that McD’s has excellant potatoe things (and no working bathroom). Then we find this cute little restaurant where we go for dinner, another long dinner. We order food, its all really good and the waitress is happily laughing at us, but in that super kind kinda way. And then H bites into the red thing. See, its just a garnish and it kinda looks like a red bell pepper, but its not. Its what R&M&H say is the strongest jalopena they have ever found. And poor H but the whole thing in her month and bit down. Her face went red first and it was the only time i ever asked her if she was alright and she said no. So i knew it was not a good thing. Mouth burning, she grabbed for all things that resembled cheese and dairy. Seeing all of this, the funny lady brought over milk to soothe her, without even asking. And she giggled. As did everyone else working at the restaurant. Silly Americans. But they were too nice so we had to have desert, and boy was it good desert.. ahhh…
We passed out in the car but R made it home for all of us. Stopped for good chicken dinner. And then we slept like babies.
Day #7: Waterfalls. Ok, so we were really burnt. This meant no beach time for us. So, we got up and putzed, ate breakfast and then headed for the rainforest, this time determined to find a waterfall. On the trail to the waterfall, we ran into our only other Americans of the trip – 2 people from Vermont. We putzed down the path and i watched as the three of them went off to play in the waterfall. I didn’t want to wander down the slippery rocks and i was too cold to be humored by even colder water. But they had fun. And then we found a hotspring, but with the burns, i wasn’t so humored to play in that water either. So i chilled and read.. Then we hiked back, and headed home to cook pasta and read, play boggle and chill. R & i had an intense conversation about our frienship, my neurotic tendancies on the trip and it was really the conversation we needed.. we relaxed in each other’s companies again, something of which there had been tension in the whole early part, sadly.
Day #8: Another island. It hurt. 6AM wakeup to make the 8AM boat to another island, supposedly super pretty, and more scuba diving. And the rooster with the broken cocca-doodle-doo even cracked his doo at this hour of the morning, letting us know we weren’t alone. And M still didn’t like his doo at that hour, damning him to hell. We made the boat, made it across without actually getting ill (although awefully close, even for me, someone who never gets sea sick). R & i make it to the scuba place, and they are anxiously awaiting us. No one there speaks English so we struggle to learn what is going on. But finally, we get underwater. Even more relaxing than the last time. This time, our guide has food with him, so fishies follow us everywhere. And he tells us what to touch and we play with everything underwater.We get to feed the fishies and play with starfish, see a lobster and jellyfish, watch flying fish jump out of the water and just be apart of more underwater beauty. Ah.. Meanwhile the girls are putzing around town, a place they feel is the most relaxing place they have ever seen.
We have a fabulous lunch (with a really rude waitress) at the place that the guide book says is the only restaurant worth mentionning on the island. H falls asleep in a hammock at the restaurant and R breaks a glass. They definitely don’t like us, but oh well.
We pass a cemetary and go sit on another beach, under palm trees, removed from the sun. We help debeach three live starfish (or otherwise spoil their suicide attempts). More reading and relaxing.
Back on our main island, we have more fantabulous crepes at a place where they are happy to make me funny drinks and appease my nutella/banana/pear desires and let us play boggle. We attempt to find a movie, but fail, so we head back to our bungalow, grab a pizza, some chicken and play Scrabble till bedtime. Sadly, we had no running water.
Day #9: Blatantly chilling. We don’t bother to leave our small town of Saint-Anne on our last day, relaxing on our local beach. M & R & i buy snurkle gear based on H’s recommendation of pretty fishies locally and we head out, lathered up completely. And she’s right – they are gorgeous and we watch different fishies all around our island. And then it happens.. My fins and the current beach me. And goddess only knows what they beached me into. It stung. My nipples were exposed and i jumped up in terror because it hurt, only my fins didn’t help the situation and i fell backwards, covering my back in the same stingly aweful material that i felt hte first day in small doses. Shit did that hurt and i clammored out of the water, in utter pain, to the beach where i couldn’t stand the wind and finally resigned to fall asleep in the bungalow, covered in bug creme. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I acquired a third nipple in the process and was none too thrilled. After a 3 hour nap and H’s kind offering of a nutella/banana crepe, i returned to the beach to play a few card games and some boggle. And we watched the sun disappear for the last time.
That evening, we went to a fancy restaurant, the recommended place for the town, and found ourselves involved in another fabulous restuarant, which of course took forever. Yummy food, conversation and exhaustion. We arrived back at our bungalow and started packing. Left the sand toys for the next vacationers, as we never used them. Finally, with everything wrapped up, we went to bed for a few hours.
Day #10: Return to Boston, more illness. We got back to Boston with surprising ease. It was odd to hear English again but i have to admit that i was kinda relieved. It was nice to understand what was going on. The people on the plane were surpisingly funny. “The weather in Boston is sunny with 87 degrees. Just kidding. Sorry folks – your vacation is now over.” Funny gay male flight attendants making us giggle. H & i were going to go to Tufts for the Safe Colleges thing, but we never made it, in part because of my email addiction. And then M came over so that we could go for food & a movie, but i ruined that. Somehow, water was in my ear and it started getting really annoying. So, we bought rubbing alcohol to put in my ear but that only made things worse. And then, with the lack of sleep, lack of food, about to come period, and pain in my ear, i started getting nautious and had to ask R to take me home. I proceeded to fall immediately asleep, ruining everyone’s final evening, but H&R&M took it lightly. They helped me do my laundry for the next day and took care of me. It was awefully nice of them. But sadly, the vacation was finally over.
Final Notes. I have to admit – i love the beach. Its just too relaxing with the sun and the sand and the laid back attitude. So nice. So relaxing. Just as we had to leave, i had finally settled. I was so neurotic and bitchy at the beginning, needing to get Boston out of my system. And by the time we left, i was relaxed.. but i really wanted at least another week. We thought about staying, but just couldn’t. Sad really that real life started calling us back. I was sad that i was so neurotic at the beginning of the trip and even sadder that it was not as smooth flowing and relaxing as it could have been, in part because i needed to get things out of my system to enjoy it. But so it goes. And i know it was good for me.. or at least it felt good. It felt really good to just take a break from life, read, play boggle and scrabble and relax and enjoy the days. And besides, i was able to get up almost every morning on my own in complete joy and excitement. Not just anywhere does that for me.