Ever since I started taking Spanish in sixth grade, I had wanted to go to Puerto Rico. I had seen beautiful pictures in my textbooks and heard stories from people who had been there. So, when the time came for me to help pick my family’s next vacation spot, I immediately brought up Puerto Rico.
In the summer of 2005, we went. I remember landing in the airport and sitting on my carry-on watching the baggage belt go around and around with everyone’s bags. We got ours and my brother and my dad went to get our rental car while my mom and I waited with the luggage.
The minute I went outside, I remember rolling up my pants to try and combat the heat. It surprised me when we saw a bunch of trash while driving on the highway. However, when we got to the hotel, everything changed. We checked in and got settled into our HUGE room. It felt like a whole new world. I was soon brought back down to earth when we went around looking for a place to eat: we found a Johnny Rockets. I remember laughing at how strange it was to eat the classic American food in a place that felt like a place worlds away from home. We spent the next few days relaxing around the hotel and going into the town of Dorado to eat and explore. It wasn’t until the end of the vacation that I felt like I had a truly different experience.
My family and I got onto the highway and used our map to try and find a restaurant that we heard of. When we couldn’t find the exit we thought we were supposed to take, we asked someone in the car next to us. They told us to get off at the next exit and follow the street. Contrary to what my dad usually does, he followed their directions. Suddenly we were riding down a very narrow one-way road in a slummy neighborhood. I could tell that my parents knew we weren’t safe. After all, not only were we lost, we were lost in a foreign place where we looked like outsiders. Then there it happened, when I thought I couldn’t get anymore scared, I did. The car suddenly stopped.
My dad said it was probably because it overheated and that we should all stay calm. He tried turning it on again and it worked. We all four knew we had to get out as fast as our overheated car possible could. My dad handed me a wad of cash and said to hide it somewhere in the car. I couldn’t find a pocket so I sat on it. Then he threw the maps back and told my brother to put them under the seats. My brother and I had never seen my dad scared; this made me uneasier then anything.
We continued driving down the road and people started spraying our car with water. Suddenly, another car came at us and moved to the side just enough so we didn’t hit them in a damaging way, although our mirrors did collide. We reached a dead end. As people approached our car, my dad quickly went into reverse and tried to turn the car around as fast as he could and then quickly sped out and got back onto the highway. We got off the highway and knew we could talk about the terrifying experience. I believe I said, ‘I have never sweated so much in my life, I think I sweat about a gallon!’ Then lighting up the mood, my brother said, ‘Esha, that’s just gross!’
That night we went back downtown and had dinner then went to the local grocery store. We looked around and then decided we wanted dessert. We bought a cake and got some plastic utensils and plates and paid for it. My brother and I were still hungry so we stopped at the taco bell across the street and bought tacos and quesadillas. We all thought it was hilarious that we were eating at taco bell in a place where we had traditional Mexican food at our disposal. This became a tradition for the remainder of the trip. Although it was nowhere close to the vacation I had imagined, it was one of the best. Not only did we get to bond a lot, we got to learn a lot and all of this made it a successful trip.
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