Away We Go…To Puerto Rico

Posted on: Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Posted in: Travelog, In Transit | Leave a comment

We combed and climbed much of Grenada, and fell in love with its people and pride. Nonetheless, after 28 days, it’s time to pack up and go. One last stop remains:  The most pedigreed sleep, a “Waldorf Astoria” resort on Puerto Rico. With a water park. And a private island. That’s exciting, but I still don’t want to go. Y’know?

Once again, we fly on the dreaded Liat Airlines, so you pack carefully.  They have more restrictions than a hazardous waste dump.  So if your luggage is overweight and your Liat liaison has her undies in a bunch, you’ll be on the floor re-arranging your undies til they approve.  Happens all the time.  So do confrontations and tantrums.  It’s not pretty.


  • But First, Grenada’s Revenge

We’ve been so healthy, so sick-free during this trip, that of course the last day is when someone finally has to succumb to something.  AllBoy this time, along with another boy from a family we’ve been hanging out with.  Now, when two kids from two fams get Grenada’s Revenge, panic can hit: Might we all run into this bug?  Dare we fly manana?

I repeated a handy BreakAway Five-Word Mantra:  I knew this might happen.  I knew this might happen.  I knew this might happen.  (What we gonna do now?!)

AllBoy went through the ringer for 24+ hours, only pausing to pass out in between.  It would have carried on longer. But as the cab pulled up at 5:55 to take us to the airport, one unfortunate incident inspired me, his dad, to serve a heavy dose of Imodium.

Sorry, but Liat and island airports and a 12-hour travel day is not the time for a half-assed approach.  Needless to say the pills did their trick and we got through the day without incident.  But in the hours and days ahead, AB’s stomach grumblings ramped into to vocal protests as the Imodium worked way too well for way too long.

  • Grenada’s Revenge #2:  Customs Complications

Liat took an hour to approve us and our baggage, and then had trouble printing our boarding passes.  But the real trouble came when Customs blew a gasket over our papers.  Held us another hour.  Held up the plane!  By the time we got on that rusty winged beast, we were getting stinkeye from everybody.  Controllers, pilots, customers, gas pumpers.

The nature of this airline is that they hop around islands all day long, and guests must make connections to eventually find their desired destination.  Thus, and for a million other reasons, delays are de rigueur.  Today was our turn to disrupt that fragile schedule.

See, we had never declared ourselves or cleared customs in Grenada.  Not a good idea, and I knew it all along.  But we came by boat, and every single person I asked would just laugh and laugh.  

I’ve been here five years and I’ve never cleared!”  

I don’t think there IS a customs on this island, ha-ha!”

I asked the Attorney General for you; he says, ‘No problem!’”  

(For real.)

So we floated around the island illegally for a month.  Ha ha ha!  But the oh-so official in the gold-striped uni who held the rubberstamp when it was (past) time to board the airplane seemed to see matters differently.  She was not impressed. Not at all.

And by the way, she also knows the Attorney General!

Long (long!) story short, some yelled and waved hands.  One made vague threats.  A few more uniformed agents (one with a particularly sassy smirk) came out of nowhere to join the brouhaha.  One participant fought tears.  One bent over and held his belly.  One laid down on the floor.  Me?  I mostly just stood there and played along.

I knew this might happen.  I knew this might happen.  I knew this might happen…

There are many things to love about the Caribbean.  But one of them is NOT an occasional propensity to, when issues hit the fan, gather a committee and turn on the Patois and make a big, noisy scene.  That said, they did their work, gave us much guff, kept the plane waiting, and found a way to let us legally enter the country, then immediately exit it, without making a pit stop in jail, Jah bless.

After that, the day was dull, if tedious as we island-hopped our way to P.R.  Oh sure, there was another airport waiting room (they would not let you out of) with a broken TV and no water or AC.  We had our bags searched aggressively over and over as if in NYC the day after 9-11. And feeding the ever-hungry children was a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge.

  • Bienvenido a Puerto Rico!

With practice, anything can become easy.  That includes long travel days—even with illness, border patrol problems, and the ever-present gamble of “Will our luggage make it?  In one piece?”  We did.  It did.  And we were poolside—if dumbstruck—by sundown.

After faraway isles, Puerto Rico came on like a Spanish-speaking Mack truck.  A high-tech, mega-airport!  High-rises! Fast food!  Billboards! Big buses!  Fast freeways!  4 million people—all driving or going somewhere or working at once!


Welcome to…America?


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