On our last day on Vieques we arranged to kayak and snorkel but the company we booked with bailed on us. Looks like the universe is really trying to keep me from kayaking somehow (there’s an ongoing dispute about who tipped the kayak last time we went together), because we are trying to take advantage of every moment on this trip. The owner was out of town and connected us with someone from his office. This person was difficult to get in touch with but we finally spoke and arranged for pick up. Emily and I waited at the pick up area for about a half hour after our arranged meeting time before contacting the snorkel company. We got a text back saying they waited for us but we didn’t show up. I’m not going to say the name of the company because my communication with the owner was great. His staff on the other hand..not so much. Luckily, they didn’t ask for a deposit so all we lost was our time. Oh well! We’re in island time anyway, which means you have to expect the unexpected and learn to enjoy the waiting.
We made up time in another way. Since we didn’t go snorkeling we packed our bags and shot over to the airport. Remember our original flight to Vieques being a little messy? Well, we still had the early flight tickets to San Juan. This worked out great.
When we got to the airport we had some time to kill. Emily walked to the airport kitchen and brought back some beef empanadas to share. While waiting for our flight we hung out with some vacationers from Dallas, Texas. They had been to Puerto Rico many times and gave us a recommendation on some must-see attractions. The flight back was just as spectacular as the flight there.
Security process going back to San Juan airport was much different than when we left it. Vieques airport doesn’t even have adequate power so not one thing goes through a security process including ourselvs. When we returned to San Juan we were told to gather our luggage and wait behind the wing of the plane. A border patrol vehicle drove around the plane twice and then took off. All passengers were then put on a van and taken to a different terminal than what we originally arrived and returned to. We were escorted by a Cape Air official to the baggage claim area and let free. Flying into the main land from Vieques definitely made me feel as if I was a VIP traveler.
We arranged to pick up a vehicle with hand controls from Enterprise at the San Juan air port on our return. I use special adaptive equipment which makes a car drivable using only my hands. It’s a rather simple design. The pick up turned out to be one of the most stressful times of this trip. The staff acted as if they had no idea what we were talking about when we mentioned our reservation and the need for hand controls.
When Emily and I decided to take this trip we agreed that we would go with the flow but unfortunately we have to plan some things out a head of time. Car rental being one of those planned things. I can’t stop by a car rental business the day of needing the car like most people. I have to give the company a few days notice so they can install the adaptive equipment. It’s another annoying thing that comes with my disability.
We were originally taken to a car that didn’t have the adaptive equipment so I explained to the staff what we needed. After about 10 minutes she came back to us and said the car was being brought up now. Another 10 minutes passed and she again said the car was on its way. At this point we had already been at Enterprise for 25 minutes. Emily and I were both getting restless.
We watched about 5 customers who showed up after us get their vehicles and head out of the parking garage. Everything takes longer with a disability and when traveling it gets annoying. I spoke with the manager and he told me the car was coming from a different lot and there was tons of traffic. 45 minutes later our car appeared. I instantly asked the person who dropped the car off how long it took him to drive the car over from the other lot and he told me 4 minutes. Incompetence grinds my gears. Im not sure what the issue was but what I do know is that Enterprise won’t be getting my business in the future. Honesty goes a long way with me. I am pretty sure the hand controls were installed while we waited. If so, it being a requirement for me to give them notice was pointless.
Finally, an hour after we showed up we were on the road. Both Emily and I were grumpy and annoyed. Tensions were high and we got lost on our way out of town. We both needed a break, some time to decompress but we had somewhere to be and we’re close to losing precious daylight we needed to find our way into the rainforest. We got back on the right path and started our way to the El Yunque National Forest. We booked an AirBnb for three nights in the jungle. We’ve been getting recommendations along the way and this one was a must to see.
On the way there we stopped by a grocery store for supplies.
I’ve seen these carts in photos but never seen one in person. I’ve been to stores all across the United States and never seen one. I travel to Puerto Rico where accessibility is limited but they have special carts for wheelchairs? Pretty rad if you ask me. There’s a logo on the front that says restricted for disability only. Emily walked with a limp when she pushed it.
We were so happy to buy our own groceries so we could cook our own meals. The Jungle bungalow we booked has its own kitchen and bbq grill.
I’m excited to share my El Yunque Bangalore experience with you. You’ll want to stay tuned because my next blog will be all about our stay at the remote, accessible bungalow. You don’t want to miss it! Here’s a sneak peak!