Today, Friday, December 17, finds me calm and at peace in my “happy place” — my favorite island in the Caribbean.
My flight to San Juan was uneventful, though full. I was upgraded to first class, which makes it more comfortable as well as having more space between passengers. For Covid protocols, the more spread out the better.
I arrived on Wednesday, and was met…
…by a paramedic with Los Bomberos San Juan (local fire department). The nice young woman who met me is the sister of a fellow vaccinator back home with whom I worked all summer.
It was great to be met and have a ride to the hotel I had booked for the night in Carolina — a neighborhood adjacent to the airport.
My room was upgraded to a suite with a private veranda and was next to the swimming pool. I changed to my swim trunks and had a swim, then lay back on a lounge in the tropical sunshine.
Later, after a shower and change of clothes, I was met by some colleagues with whom I worked before I retired. They took me to a great locals-only restaurant for dinner. I had fresh fish caught that morning.
Slept well, then made my way via taxi to the car rental center at the airport and picked up the compact SUV that I had reserved. Easy process. I was out in a flash.
Then… the lovely very busy highways of San Juan greeted me. Ugggh… I never liked driving in Puerto Rico. The locals are very friendly and gracious, but they drive quite aggressively. Their behind-the-wheel behavior belies their usual friendly nature. When they drive, let’s say, “every man for himself.”
I quickly got on the toll road that crosses the island from the North (where San Juan is on the Atlantic Ocean) to the South (where the Caribbean Sea is.)
I stopped for lunch at a well-known fast food restaurant and ordered well enough in Spanish that I got what I wanted and did not get what I did not want (condiments like ketchup and mustard.)
I then made my way to my home away from home — Mayagüez, located on the west coast of the island about in the middle between the South (Cabo Rojo) and the North (Aguadilla). These will be my “stomping grounds” until mid-January.
I am staying at a house owned by very dear and close friends of mine. My friends will be visiting their children who live on the mainland (USA) for three weeks. I have their lovely house all to myself. Just a little dog-walking, plant-watering, and the rest of the time is mine.
The house where I am staying has a rooftop deck that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. It is a great place to meditate each morning.
While I am here, I will visit some beaches that only locals know. These beaches are quiet and have few visitors. I’ll plop myself down on a beach blanket under a palm tree and relax. I have many memories here… where my husband and I traveled together in February 2020 for two weeks of relaxation and to enjoy Valentine’s Day (little did either of us know it would be our last).
Come 7 January, I will scatter my husband’s ashes upon the Caribbean Sea as he requested, and is the main reason I am here. I also wanted to avoid being at my house on Christmas and New Years, which respectfully are days when I lost my husband (last day he in the house was Christmas and last day in the hospital with discharge to hospice was New Years Eve.) I no longer “celebrate” these days for any reason. I will relax in the tropical sunshine with my thoughts.
Life is short: no man is a failure who has friends.