Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting there

(I wanted to blog and post from the island but my camera loading-software didn’t work and there was no WIFI. Who was I kidding?)

On our way to Culebra! 3/22
We woke at 4:44am and packed up the car and headed to Bradley in the dark. We would be at our destination at around 5:30pm if everything went smoothly.

My back was sore so I brought my ingenious back pillow as inspired by my friend and my wedge pillow given to me by my mother (the pillow I had thrown on the porch last year when she gave it to me thinking "Why would I need that?"-Oh yeah-searing back pain) But I was going to prove that even in pain I could travel and have fun, even if it meant dragging a pillow with me anywhere. No illusions of being cool for me.

Checking out the planes. The last time we flew Georgia was barely 3 months old so neither of them remember it. They were taking it all in. The security process was easier than I thought it might be.

Because I have almost no photos of me I am starting a project of forcing my family to document my existence in the family. I am training both Lily and Georgia. I think Lily took this one.

When we filed onto the plane I had a little surge of panic which I had never felt when boarding a plane, "Really? All these people? In this tiny thing? This can't be right!" but I took a deep breath and it passed. It made me more sympathetic to Rob's need to pre-medicate with Ativan and Georgia's later response to sitting still in a tiny place for an hour.

I thought she's be amazed and distracted by the magic of flight for a bit longer, but no. She was done. We had 2 more hours. Thank goodness my mother gives good gifts because I pulled out the sketch books she had mailed us for the plane ride and the kids survived the other 2 hours. I had thought I'd get to read Bossypants by Tina Fey,(which I was enjoying intensely for 10 minutes before I looked down and remembered I was traveling with young children)

Art to distract them from the pain of sitting still and not even getting fed anything.

We landed and took a air conditioned van to the port town of Fajardo 70 minutes away. I had dreaded this leg of the journey, fearing total chaos, traffic, smoking and hellish heat but those anxieties turned out to be unfounded and probably just some PTSD from my trip to India in 2001 which is the last time I left the country!

Our driver drove 55 and handled all the madness around us. As we sped down the three lane highway a car in the far right lane pulled directly in front of us as we zoomed along in the left lane and they just stopped. Brake slamming and seatbelt utilization time! Even our driver yelled.! I said, “That would have been a really short trip.” And Rob (who is a very brave driver) decided he would not drive a rental back to the airport as we had planned and did not change his mind as the trip went on.

We got to the ferry and waited. There was alot of stress as the ferry was boarded because after we had all lined up they declared in Spanish that residents would board first. It took forever for people to declare they were residents and come forward with all their luggage. Lots of conversations and yelling and drama. I thought it must be a new policy for all the tension and confusion, but the expatriate resident behind us finally sighed and asked, "Why is it always like this?" as he stepped forward. I asked if their was enough room for all of us and he reassured me there was plenty and he was right. We finally boarded and settled into our seats with our luggage. Almost there! Things had gone so smoothly! We were going to make it to the island by dinner!

The boat was large and clean and bright. We settled in facing forward and hoped to nap. Rob took Georgia up to watch the waves. Then hell descended. The boat began to pitch. Everyone around us seemed to think this was normal.

Up whoosh and down whoosh.

It was like a roller coaster. I had taken a Zofran and a Meclizine from my nausea medicine chest at the beginning of my trip but it could not fight these waves. The friendly woman across from us, who I had just taken a group picture for, motioned her daughter to grab a trash can and she heaved just in time. I looked in sympathy and said, “I think I’m next” as I rummaged in my bag for the stolen puke bag from the plane. I began to heave. Terrible. Then another woman across from us succumbed.

Lily groaned next to me and I handed her her own bag and gave her a tutorial from my long history of using vomit bags. “Aim for the bag. Don’t let it drop or the puke will go everywhere. It won't leak even though you'll think it will. Stay strong. We’ll be OK.”

Then I remembered “You could go outside with Papa. He might be fine up there in the fresh air. I can’t leave the luggage."

She just whimpered and looked at me in horror as she puked into her bag. It went on and on and on. I would feel better for only a moment after vomiting, first my omelet and then just acid and then gut wrenching bile. It was hard sweaty work. My eyes were watering and sweat was dripping down my back. I tried not to make too many gaggy puke noises to upset the 25 or so people around me, some of whom were coughing and gagging themselves and some, when I had a moment to breathe and look around, looked like they were serenely meditating with their eyes closed.

I was hoping at least Georgia and Rob were doing well but then a french man in a wet poncho stood beside me holding Georgia’s arm, “Is thees your child? Your husband is sick.” I thanked him and settled Georgia between Lily and me where she worried loudly “Mama I’m scared Papa is going to fall into the ocean. He’s about to fall in.”

I reassured her the best I could and told her to just stay put until we got to land. She and Lily both passed out for the last hour (Yes it was a 90 minute trip. Uggh!)

Rob did not fall in. He vomited 15 times over the edge first into the sea, but then he feared falling in so he just puked over the side to where the cars were parked.

We were all beat when the boat finally docked.

We stumbled out with our bags and followed Rob’s trail of vomit.

He was lying, soaking wet from waves and sweat, on his side on a bench, looking pale and stricken. Much like he looked 16 years ago when he vomited in the minivan on the way the new Lion King movie when he and I were camp counselors at camp kinderland. Ask me about that nightmare of a summer, sometime.

We didn’t want to take a cab because we didn’t want to vomit in it.

We stumbled down the soggy tiny dirty streets. Georgia was the only one of us who had any perk in her. She squealed at the chickens, stray cats and land crabs she saw. Stopping to peer into people’s private yards and in murky canals.

We got to our cottage and Ruth, the proprietor, tried to talk to us about rules and such but then she realized we were beyond speaking so she just let us in and gave us a gallon of spring water to drink, saying we'd talk in the morning.

Thankfully, I had brought the laptop and some dvds, which was last minute and scoffed by Rob, but turns out one of the most intelligent things I have ever done. I put the girls on their double bed and handed them the laptop and Harry Potter 1 and pleaded with them to let us sleep off the hideous nausea.

We locked up the cottage and lay in the dark and napped for about an hour, enough for me to feel like I could get up and function. Rob's eyes were still crossed but it was getting dark and we had no food, so I roused him and told him it was getting dark and he'd have to walk with us to the grocery store.

We found our way in the dark to the nearby grocery store that was blessedly open until 9pm. We bought eggs, cheese, cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter and jelly. The island felt very tropical and different. The frogs, birds and bugs were chirping. Music was coming from windows and cars driving by and the air was warm. There were street dogs and chickens in the empty lots and alleys. We had made it to the island! Rob mumbled that it could only get better. I hoped he was right!

1 comment:

  1. Katherine - holy crap! Whoa...what a start to your adventure! Can't wait to hear more! <3