Having never been out of the contiguous United States in my fourteen years, I was extremely excited to hear that my family was going to, Culebra, an island off of Puerto Rico for spring break. My sister and I had had a steady diet of murky-watered beaches with brown sand, which had been fun but not quite idyllic. When we envisioned the azure waters and pure white sand, we soon fell in love with the idea.
On the first day of a well-deserved spring break, we set off to Dulles Airport and waited in the terminal until our plane was ready to board. Unfortunately, our flight had been overbooked and so the attendants were looking for volunteers to be bumped. Whoever those people were would have to wait a couple hours to be taxied to BWI airport, fly to Charlotte, NC, and thence to San Juan, PR. They would also receive 4 free plane tickets to anywhere in the United States. Those people turned out to be us.
Thinking that we would arrive in San Juan only a few hours behind schedule and with the idea of a free trip flitting in our minds, my family happily took the plane to Charlotte. But it was not to be that simple. Once we were ready to fly to San Juan, we discovered another dilemma with our names written on it: a second overbooked flight! And strangely enough we volunteered again. This time we flew to Boston, MA and stayed overnight. In the morning, with our fingers crossed, we caught a first class flight to San Juan. We had zigzagged from Virginia to Maryland to North Carolina to Massachusetts and then to Puerto Rico all within 36 hours! We laughed as we realized that our original itinerary had been to travel from Dulles to Charlotte to San Juan.
As we approached Culebra from the ferry we were riding, we got our first actual glimpse of the limpid water accented by a school of trumpet fish. Once we had docked, my family and I rode a bus through narrow and bumpy roads to Jerry’s Jeeps, a car rental company http://www.islaculebra.com/puerto-rico/jeep-rentals.html. We drove our old white Jeep up to the apex of a hill and viewed our spacious and beautiful house: Casa del Sol http://www.islaculebra.com/puerto-rico/guesthouses.html. Overlooking a beautiful bay on one side and a fading Puerto Rico on the other, the rental house was well stocked with snorkels, fins, shovels and every other kind of beach implement we could need. We all went to bed that night bursting with excitement over the days to come.
We spent that week snorkeling, SCUBA diving, beachcombing and hiking. On mainland Puerto Rico, we visited the most beautiful rain forest I had ever seen. We relaxed and read books and found intricate shells. We shimmied up coconut palms and banged the coconuts against anything we could find to get to the meat. We raved about being able to see our feet under the water. We became used to the slow, relaxed atmosphere of the island and laughed at the kiosk which read, “Open some days – closed others.” We watched the stray cats and roaming chickens while waiting in long line to get gasoline at the only station on the island.
As we drifted away from island, early Sunday morning, I dreaded going back to the hustle and bustle of the Washington, D.C. area. When I realized how much I would miss the island and the amazing time I had had there, I knew that my first out of country experience had been worth the wait.
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