16 Wings and at Least as many Prayers – House Hunters Domestic (kind-of)
Over the past 5 days I have taken 8 flights (16 wings) and offered an equal amount of prayers in order to visit St. Croix USVI. The purpose of my very short visit was to find a house for the family. After months of research and watching the MLS property listings like an addict the actual journey began. I have learned some very important and few humorous lessons along the way.
Time or Money
If you’ve got the money you don’t have the time, and if you’ve got the time then you probably don’t have the money. This has become one of life’s saddest but truest conundrums. This truism was reiterated by a nice Brazilian man I spoke with in one of the many security lines I stood in.
Well, on this trip I saved the money and spent the time. Total cost of round trip airfare to St. Croix $550.00 (not too shabby, right)? But boy-o-boy did I ever pay with time. The itinerary looks something like this:
SLC to Boston
Boston to Newark
Newark to San Juan (PR)
San Juan (PR) to St. Croix
It took three separate airlines to do this with a few 7 hour layovers. I could have gotten there in two flights without having to sleep in the San Juan airport hotel (more on that later), however it doubled the cost…..So, on this one we spent a lot of time and less money.
The Power of a Smile
During my 5 days I have had the opportunity of interacting with many people from all walks of life, many upon whom my immediate future relied (rental car managers, flight attendants, real estate agents, gas station clerks, hotel personnel, etc.).
I had the most wonderful interactions as I made the decision to be present with each person, smile, and thank them for the service they rendered. Not just a cursory “thank you,” but an actual interaction that included, heaven forbid, eye contact, a smile, and possibly an extended conversation. One such interaction was with the woman who checked me into the Hotel Caravelle in Christiansted. We had the obligatory “see to business” conversation and then she looked at me and really scrutinized me. I returned the eye contact and smiled. “Are you a lawyer?” she queried. I responded, “No I am not a lawyer.” “Well then,” she said, “That means you must be a teacher.” I wasn’t wearing any school apparel, and there was no possible way for her to deduce this. I told her I was a teacher and she said, ”I had a sense.” We then took the next 5 minutes talking about her blessed life and ability to sense and know things about her immediate surroundings. It was fascinating.
Later on during the trip I walked into the front office and hadn’t even opened my mouth yet and she said, “You need the Wifi password, right?” Again, she hit the nail on the head, that was the express purpose for my visit. The power of a smile, being present, and not hurried provided for many such interesting conversations with perfect strangers that I now consider friends.
Polar Bear Habitat
Two of my THREE seven hour layovers were in Puerto Rico, and both were late at night and were spent at the airport hotel in San Juan. Had it been a decent hour of the day I would have loved to explore Old San Juan. Oh well, there will be many future visits. A little travel weary and bleary I checked in (offering my best smile at O’dark thirty in the morning) and then headed up to my room. I opened the door and stepped over the threshold into what can only be described as a future polar bear habitat. I think the AC had been running since the dawning of the Age-of-Aquarius and it was COLD. I fiddled with the thermostat thinking I had achieved my purpose….however the air conditioning continued to blow like an arctic blizzard. I am certain that if they turned the thermostat up a few degrees there would be a power surplus unreckoned with in Puerto Rico’s history. I had read a few blogs mentioning that the airport was cold. Well….let me add to it, “The airport hotel is even colder!!” Even though you are in the Caribbean; bring an electric blanket, wools socks, and long underwear, you won’t regret it.
I had also read several blogs regarding the state of roads in St. Croix. I am a skeptic and don’t believe everything I read. They couldn’t be that bad, right? Wrong….they really are. Not all of them mind you, but there are a few pot holes that will get you every time. As I was driving out to Point Udall (the Eastern most point of the United States in the Western Hemisphere) I saw a large cluster of dumpsters on my left. Interesting enough they drive on the left in St. Croix, so I was already a basket case, verbally reminding myself to “stay left, stay left!” Nevertheless, the dumpsters were fascinating because not all areas on the island have local trash pickup so there are several places on the island where clusters of dumpsters are located for residents to drop off your trash. I was busily counting the dumpsters and looking at their position within the surrounding neighborhood when WHAM! I put my left tire in the biggest pot hole I’ve ever seen. I was certain the dash lights would come on alerting me that I had just blown the tire of my rental car, however a few of the prayers mentioned in the title kept that tire inflated and me on the road. The tale of the pot hole could end there, however, I did the same darn thing the next day….the exact same thing. Same dumpsters, same pothole, not my greatest moment (twice).
A Square to Spare
For those of you who know me, bathroom emergencies are somewhat of a problem for me. I had just landed on the island and was heading into town to meet my realtor. About halfway there, I felt a little digestional discomfort. Well aware of my past emergencies, I was proactive and decided that the next gas station I saw I would stop and solve this problem. I arrived at an unknown gas station and stiff-legged it to the register where I had my very first conversation with a Crucian. I asked if he knew how to find my realtors office (googlemaps failed me on this one)? He did not know. I followed up this query with, “Do you have a restroom I can use?” He pointed to a decrepit looking blue wooden door with a sign posted on it that said “OUT OF ORDER” and said “Sure, you can use it.” Imagine my confusion seeing the sign but I took his word for it and tried the door. It was locked…okay…now I am really confused and worried that I just ‘turd-burgled’ someone. The attendant a young man in his twenties is shouting and gesticulating to do something to the door, so I heave-ho on the door, jiggle, wrench, and shake the door to no avail. Meanwhile my digestional discomfort has worsened. Finally in absolute frustration he comes over, looks at me like I’m an idiot, picks up an outlet box metal plug, and puts it in the key hole to open it. OF COURSE – I should have known…right? My situation is now dire so I don’t have any further discourse with the young man and simply get into the bathroom. This is where “a square to spare” episode of Seinfeld comes into play. After I sat down I realized, there is an empty roll of toilet paper sitting on the tank. A detailed search of the room proved this to be the only toilet paper in the joint (more on joints later). There is a sliver lining to this roll….it still has the glued on end square of toilet paper stuck on. Very carefully and meticulously I peeled of the precious square and quoted Elaine out loud to myself and said, “Why yes, I do have a square to spare” and that was that!
Whole Pot (it is kind of like whole milk, only weed)
At my “refill the tank” stop for my rental car, I stopped at a different gas station – I don’t think I will ever be able to show my face in the first gas station – oh the shame. While standing in line, I was perusing the various car accouterments for sale and happened to be in the air freshener section. I love a good sent and began to sniff the various fresheners. It was only on further inspection that I read the brand name for the fresheners. It was “Bluntfreshener” Although I was not going to smoke a blunt anytime soon I did finish smelling all of the scents. If I ever smell those particular scents again…I’ll know someone just smoked a dooby-roo.
After much travel I walked away feeling very successful about the whole endeavor. I think I found the right house for us (stay tuned for that!) and the next few months will surely offer additional adventures from Our Innovative Life.