November 6, 2017
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
Our next house sit is in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. Before jumping into a new culture and country, we decided that it would be best to go to the U.S. for a week to wash our salvageable clothes, take hot showers, replace trashed clothes, and most importantly visit with family that were worried sick during our hurricane survival ordeal.
We accomplished all of these, but not without some major issues adapting back into the “real world” groove.
Having spent the past 5 months on the small tropical island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and then returning to a large city can cause some adjustment problems for anyone. Having spent 5 months on an island when two hurricanes demolished it to the point that the last two months were spent without electricity, running water, Internet and cell…well let’s just say that returning to Big D (Dallas, Texas) was a challenge.
When the plane’s flight attendant tried to take my drink glass that had a few precious cubes of ice left in the bottom, I grabbed it from his hand. A few days previously, I had stood for hours in line for ice, and I wasn’t about to let any go to waste. Obviously, I am suffering shell shock. We both are. Our week in Dallas would be interesting.
Here’s a few things that we are adapting back into:
We stayed with Dub and Ginger (my brother and sister-in-law), while in Dallas. They were gracious enough to lend us a car to do our running around and errands. Had they seen the island Jeep we used and the driving conditions that we had just escaped, they might have reconsidered.
When John pulled onto the Bush Tollway, I saw his knuckles go white as he gripped the steering wheel.
“You okay?” I asked him.
He replied, “Yeah, but I just don’t think there were this many people here when we left.”
I glanced at the hundreds of cars zipping by us. “I think you’re right,” I answered. “It’s probably all the people from Puerto Rico that have evacuated.”
“I don’t think so. Island people don’t drive like these maniacs,” he retorted.
I had to agree.
The sheer amount of people that are smothering us is oppressive, but it doesn’t compare to the speed that these folks are bustling along. Something akin to the post-hurricane ants, everyone here is scurrying along with no time to stop and smell the coconuts, much less the roses. It’s crazy.
On Vieques, it was quite normal for the car in front of you to stop in the middle of the road (blocking any cars behind), to have a conversation with neighbors, other drivers or friends. Nobody honks. Nobody gets upset. Nobody shouts obscenities at the blankety-blank driver that is yacking it up. It’s the “island” way of doing things and nobody really cares.
After all, who is ever in a rush on a beautiful, Caribbean island?
I had dreams about my first hot shower and bath after our island experiences. When we first were able to shower, John spent 23 minutes letting the warmth and steam of the water embrace him. I beat him with a full 30 minutes. It was divine. Then afterwards, we both felt guilty about using so much water, especially since we didn’t have to haul it.
Our guilt subsided a bit when we brushed our teeth with water that came from a faucet, as opposed to a water bottle. And, when the toilet flushed we experienced pure nirvana!
I have never been much of a shopper. I like to go into a store knowing exactly what I’m going to buy, find the aisle it’s on, pay, and then vamoose. John, on the other hand, has always been a label reader. I’ve learned to find other things to do (like laps in the parking lot to add steps to my Fitbit), while waiting on John.
The months on Vieques changed me.
Yesterday, during our trip to Walmart to get shampoo, toothpaste, etc. John was getting batteries, while I made my way to the Personal Care area of the store. I stalled out on the deodorant aisle. After about 10 minutes John found me gazing glassy-eyed at the colorful array of anti-sweat and anti-stink products.
“You okay,” he asked.
“I don’t remember there being so many brands of deodorant. What’s up with that?”
He smiled at me and replied, “Just pick one. Your stink smells good to me so it really doesn’t matter.”
And then, last night Dub and Ginger took us out to eat at a wonderful sushi restaurant. This time both of our eyes glazed over and we sat there stymied with all the choices.
“You guys okay?” asked Ginger.
I spoke up. “I guess we don’t remember there being this many kinds of sushi. What’s up with that?”
John’s shorts were literally in tatters, because of all the hurricane clean up. He prefers Magellan cargo shorts because they are lightweight and made of a fabric that wicks moisture and dries quickly. The only place we’ve been able to find them is Academy. Thus, we searched several Academy stores only to find the aisles lined with camo hunting gear, winter jackets and sweats.
No shorts anywhere! Bummer!
Two weeks ago, while still on the island, I would have paid black market prices for a single grape. Weird huh? Even while I was pregnant, I never craved any particular kind of foods, so it was mighty peculiar that, for the last two weeks, all I could think about was grapes. I had a bad case of PHGCD (Post Hurricane Grape Craving Disorder).
I had mentioned this to Ginger and when we arrived at their house she had a huge bowl of assorted fresh fruit on her kitchen island, as well as, a huge bag of green seedless grapes in the fridge. I literally floated on air when I saw them and she told me they were for me.
I sat at the table and pigged out on the luscious ovals, celebrating Mother Nature’s perfect fruit creation.
Dub watched me gorging myself and turned to John to say, “Is she all right?”
John replied, “Just give her a sec. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had anything fresh, especially fresh produce.”
I looked up from my euphoric state with admiration in my heart for this sensational man. Then as a token of my love, I made the ultimate sacrifice. I pulled a sumptuous green oval from the stem, and fed him a grape.
After a week in the “real world” we’ve decided that we’re tired of trying to conform to the rat race of city life. Acclimation is over rated and is definitely not for us.
Our clothes are spotless and neatly packed. Our bodies are clean. Our loved ones are hugged and then hugged again. My belly is full of grapes.
Eureka! I think we’re ready for Mexico!!!
2017, Travel Tips
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