In the movie Groundhog Day, a Pittsburgh weatherman, played by Bill Murray, repeats the same day in a time loop until he finally gets it right. Well we aren’t “weatherpersons” but we are originally from Pittsburgh and we are hoping to get our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico right.
We were in Puerto Rico a little over 5 years ago, but, similarly to Bill Murray when he attempted to cover the emergence (or lack thereof) of Punxsutawney Phil, our time was also a running loop of screw-ups.
But occasionally you do get a second chance! Blonde recently won a trip to Puerto Rico. To the faint strains of Punxsutawney Phil humming “Like a Virgin” in the background, Blonde and Brunette are off to lose our Puerto Rican virginity for the second time. (Blonde lost her virginity repeatedly decades ago so why not give it another go?)
The previous trip we spent most of our time on Vieques and a day in San Juan at the end. This time our trip will begin with three days at the El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo on the main island and then three days on Vieques using our SPG points to stay at the W Retreat and Spa. We previously stayed at Martineau Bay on Vieques and believe that is the property that is now the W, so this really is a Groundhog Day opportunity.
On our prior trip we went on a tour of the alarmingly named Mosquito Bay bioluminescent bay in Vieques. We were taken out, on a very dark night, in small boats and encouraged to get in the water and swish our arms around to see the little organisms that light up at night. The guide suggested making “angel arms” but we were marveling at how the little critters showed that we should have shaved our legs and maybe even our arms before jumping into the water. Nothing like seeing glowing blue lights making you look like the Disney version of the Lochness Monster.
At the conclusion of the bay tour we got on a bus that drove us back to the tour company’s shop/meeting point. Never two to miss a chance to reset our bladders to empty, we went into the shop to use the ladies room and then lingered to change into dry clothes. When we emerged everyone was gone and we were locked in the building.
After some basic dithering, giggling and panicking Blonde found a list of what appeared to be employees’ telephone numbers beside the – well, the telephone obviously. Much discussion ensued as to how to select the most likely rescuer from a list of unknown people. Finally one lucky fellow at the top of the list was chosen. Blonde is forced to be the speaker for these types of events so was the one holding the phone rehearsing her winsome plea.
Then we realized that we could hear the phone ringing. The man who answered sounded as if he might have been inspecting another recycled virgin’s luminescent body at the time of the call. He was not what you could properly call “pleased” by the interruption. However, we had been able to hear the phone ringing because he lived above the shop. We thought that was fabulously convenient. His grunting agreement to come let us out may have indicated that our proximity wasn’t as pleasing to him as it was to us. But he did thump down the outside stairs and let us out and we hustled out of there as fast as we could muttering apologies, avoiding eye contact and giggling.
We have a tour of a different bioluminescent bay this time and have agreed that if we have to pee at the end of it we will do so in bushes or behind a tree and will not linger to change our clothes. This year’s tour brings its own challenge though as we will have to paddle our own kayak in total darkness down a narrow passageway. We may not get it right this time either but at least, as Bill Murray did, we will most likely screw it up in a different way.
On the earlier trip we also cleverly decided that we wouldn’t need a rental car as we could take taxis wherever we wanted to go. That would have been a brilliant plan if we were going to New York City but it didn’t hold up well at the far end of an island with very few cabs, all of whom stopped operating at 7:00 p.m.
Until we were able to find an available rental car about halfway through the week we took cabs one way and bummed rides back with total strangers. One such stranger was an amiable, hygienically-challenged Rasta manchild on a beach. His beat-up car had the interior ripped out so we had to huddle in a lump on broken springs sticking out of what may have once been a passenger seat. The interior was plush compared to the jarring ride and the olfactory assault.
That ride, and our emergence alive, oddly emboldened us so we took a taxi another night out to the middle of the island for a “famous” barbecue event. Once there, like two old geezers surveying the lounge at a “gentleman’s club”, we began looking for non-threatening fellow tourists to coerce into taking us back to our hotel. We did manage to accomplish our transportation goal by hijacking an odd menage a trois; a grumpy married couple and an expat who lived locally. The expat was an artist having a show at her gallery (yard) the next day and she pressed us to attend with the zeal of a Jehovah’s Witness with one foot in the door. We attempted to feign interest in her artwork which was made out of feathers and cereal or something but, like users everywhere, we only wanted “our” free ride without having to do anything in return. Once again the scene ended with us expressing our thanks, giggling and scampering away.
We are hoping to get everything right(ish) this time. Although the fact that we just realized that we have one night in our itinerary with nowhere booked to stay, no rental car lined up and an El Yunque rain forest tour where we will most likely crash down slippery slopes and land in nests of poisonous hungry frogs, may indicate that we will meet Murray’s fate and need more than one Groundhog Day to get it right.
At least it beats the hell out of Punxsutawney.