Thursday, September 3, 2009

Up, Up and Away

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There are few things I enjoy more in life than going through airport security. The adrenaline rush you get when you take off your sneakers in front of 100 strangers and everyone in line notices the hole in your sock that you yourself somehow missed that morning. The thrill of digging through your overstuffed purse in search of the boarding pass that they said you wouldn’t need again, but you do. The exhilaration of making the metal detector beep because of your damned underwire bra. Short of a cavity search, there’s nothing like getting past the TSA for sheer excitement. And here begins our journey to Vieques, Puerto Rico on the flight from hell.

Now I am not a white-knuckle flyer. I’ve flown dozens and dozens of times. Across the country, across the Atlantic, across Europe. Delays don’t bother me. Bad movies don’t annoy me. Even turbulence doesn’t make me blink. But when you’re 50,000 feet up and you’re suddenly caught in a lightning storm, you blink. Then you gasp. Then you briefly wonder whether you're sure you're an agnostic. Finally, you instinctively grab the knee of the hairy-legged man in cargo shorts sitting on your left and you squeeze. Oddly enough, he seemed to be expecting this from me. His new wife was squeezing his other knee. I apologized, we all laughed, another bolt hit close and both our hands went back on both his knees. I’ve never flown through anything like that before…lightning so close that with each bolt the entire cabin of the plane would become blindingly bright. The storm lasted less than 10 minutes, but it was terrifying and my hand frequently grabbed that poor man’s knee. He said his name was Rick. I wonder if he’ll call.

After spending the next few hours nursing a couple of $7 Bloody Marys, listening to music on my iPod (there is no such thing as an in-flight movie anymore) and occasionally apologizing to Rick for the nail marks, we landed in San Juan and arranged for a “publico” (taxi) to take us about 40 minutes away to Fajardo to catch the ferry to Vieques. An uneventful ride except for the family of wild horses crossing the major highway. Having never gone to bed the night before and working on my 36th hour of consciousness, I of course fell into a 75-minute coma on the refrigerated ferry, and awoke in Vieques. Passing several mangy dogs, a blind horse, a 3-legged cat and countless chickens on the way from the ferry dock to our dilapidated and dented rental jeep, I knew an adventure was about to begin.
Tomorrow: "Now We're Talkin!"

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