Monday, April 23, 2012
How far would you go for a great pastrami sandwich? It took me about two hours and two modes of transportation. But I got one at FOODSPACE in Luquillo. Lunch at Chef Michael's was fabulously good and just what one needs to get into the shopping zone.
Island living has its perks to be sure. The view at work is the harbor in Esperanza, you can go to the beach at the drop of a hat, but......there are some oddities to it as well. The pastrami sandwich being just one. I am sure that most of you haven't ever thought about needing (not just wanting) to go to Walmart. When you want some fresh vegetables you just stop at the store right? How about when you need a special size light bulb, or a pair of socks, or a part for your car? Here on Vieques, those things turn into an adventure. It starts off weeks ahead of time. You start compiling the list of what you need. The week before your shopping excursion you call the rental car company to absolutely positively have a car. The day before you go to the ferry to get a ticket. The system is usually down and you have to go back at least twice to get one. The day of your trip you barely sleep for fear of missing the alarm which is set for 4am. After nearly scalding yourself trying to make coffee, you stumble into the car and head to the dock with every piece of luggage you own, all empty.
After getting on the boat, you realize that the AC is set for about forty degrees and you have to dig through your luggage to find the sweatshirt that you are pretty sure you packed. If you can't find it or forgot it, you change seats to get as far from the AC as possible and curl into the fetal position to protect your vital organs from freezing. After an hour's ride (if you get the Cayo Blanco or longer if you don''t) the boat docks in Fajardo. The crush to get out the door is bigger than the one at the last Rolling Stones concert you went to. After finally getting off the boat, the search for the rental car begins. (if you rent from world car rental however, you have to stand by the door on the boat the entire trip so you can sprint to the office. Reservation or not, there is one line. Reservation or not, you don't get a car if you are at the end of the line.) So, back to searching for the rental car....the area by the docks is jam packed with taxis, people dropping off or picking up people. The road is one way, but then the cargo boat lands and the three hundred foot tractor trailer can't make the corner after unloading, so it has to go up the street the wrong way.
Now, once in the rental car, you creep slowly up the street due to all the traffic. Being smart, you finally reach the road that will take you the back way to Route 3 and hang a right. Unfortunately, this route takes you by two schools which causes at least another thirty minute delay. So, at this point you have been traveling for close to three hours and are just getting to the parking lot at Walmart. (Smart people park near the crows nest which houses the parking lot security. That way if you forget what your rental car looks like, they can help you.) Everyone synchronizes their phones and agrees to meet back at the car in exactly forty five minutes. You can tell the Vieques people by the speed of their shopping. There is no price comparison or product comparison. You race up and down the aisles throwing things in your cart.
This same thing happens at Costco, Home Depot, Marshalls, National Lumber, Old Navy, Sears, etc. Shopping has to be finished no later than 2pm. (and that is cutting it close). The final stop is Lolita's for a well deserved Margarita. But before you allow yourself to get one, you have to pack. All the bags from all your stops have to be put into the luggage you brought. This means that most of the packaging your items came in will have to be discarded. As the packing becomes more frantic, the likelihood of throwing out directions, warranties and receipts becomes very high. The mound of trash that has accumulated outside the rental car is larger than most trash barrels so you have to find a dumpster. After that margarita, the race is on to get to the rental car office and back to the dock area to catch the 4:30. Once there the stacking begins. This is the method by which you are actually going to be able to get your stuff onto the boat. The rolling dufflebag or cooler becomes your base, insulated bags are then bungee corded to the base. Rugged items are tied to the sides and home goods like towels and pillows are stuffed in between. You have to adjust the stacking several times to get just the right balance so the whole thing doesn't flip on you when you try to roll it down the dock. And of course, the 4:30 boat is late. About 6pm you roll off the boat and make the long trek to your car. During the crossing, the balance on your stacking has been compromised so each little bump causes a major problem. Even if you skip having a beer at the Mar Azul, it is usually after seven before you get home and you still have to unpack because the salmon filets are defrosting a warp speed.
By the time the shopping expedition is over, you have been up for nearly twenty hours and you feel good that you actually went to the big island and got back in the same day.
But that pastrami sandwich made it all worth it.