While other families might spend their vacation time in the beautiful tropical islands fringing our country lounging on the beach, strolling the picturesque walkways and marvelling at the monuments to our recent colonial past as they chuckle gently and patronize ancient Caribean civilizations, my family, in the words of my friend Cory, doesn't play that. No, not this time. This time we had a mission. This time we had an empty house more akin to a museum then a dwelling. This time, we had to FURNISH.
So this time I was awkwardly thrust into a rental car and serenaded by the dulcet sounds of hundreds of angry Puerto Rican drivers screaming at my equally angry Puerto Rican father as he navigated the highway system leading to the neighboring township of Carolina, which calls itself "la tierra de los gigantes". This means the land of the giants. Since most Puerto Ricans come in at about 5'3'' I have no idea about the validity of this motto, but logic and Puerto Rico are so rarely friends, so whatever. In Puerto Rico the word for a traffic jam is tapon, which literally means plug. I once explained this to an Argentine who delicately wrinkled her noise at the imagery, but I have to hand it to the Puerto Ricans, they have a way with slang, and if you are ever caught in traffic here you will know why. With many a hand gesture of a dubious nature my father got us to the furniture store in Carolina where my mother and I wandered through rooms and rooms of identical and identically ugly sofas. Having picked out the least offensive of said items, which actually ended up being a lovely group of chairs and an adorable set of armchairs (with free ottomans! Every little girl's dream!), my father decided to leave us at Marshall's super store near by while he transported our new furnature back to San Juan. Then, he assured us, he would be back for us. Like a hero in a World War II themed novel, my father took off into the wilds of the Puerto Rican highway system as we wished him godspeed.
Well, I don't know if any of you have actually been to a Marshall's Super Store, and if you have, I commend you, because that place is terrifying. It's super. It's bigger then super. It's got lots and lots of things that I couldn't possibly imagine a use for but the people surrounding me sure as hell could because MAN did they fight over these ceramic bunnies and plastic bottle stoppers in the shape of lions. STRUGGLE. You want an aquatic themed set of plates in plastic? Check. Several patio tables featuring the visage of the Virgin Mary? Check. An entire aisle of candles? CHECK. Insanity.
But the real craziness begins when my mother and I left the Marshall's. Hungry, tired, in need of a bathroom, my mother and I decided that while a singing unicorn might be a nice addition to our place here, we could live without it. So we left the store in search of a place to eat and sit and maybe have some kind of libation as a reward for our hour in the depths of the Marshall's struggle. Alas, my friends, this was not to be, for of course Puerto Rico is the opposite of pedestrian friendly. So my mother and I, in a fit of adventurous bravado, decided to walk along the highway till we found a Wendy's we both recalled having seen an eternity ago. That's right. We walked along the highway. We sprinted across upramps and downramps, we climbed through overpasses, we waved off a very nice young man who stopped to give us a ride. We walked a path that I can be fairly certain no Puerto Rican has ever attempted. I could have sworn we were going to die on multiple occasions, but we forged the highway like migrant workers in the 1930's and we won! We survived! We achieved the Wendy's! I swear, I doubt there has ever been a more comforting sight to me then the Wendy's sign at that moment. As I turned to my mother with joy written on my face in giant, relieved letters, I saw her face fall. "I bet they don't serve wine in there, do they?" She sadly uttered to me. I sighed, and put my hand around her shoulders. "No, probably not, Mom" I said, "But they do serve french fries".
Having your own cross highway disaster? Lisa Hannigan can't help you. But she does sing really pretty.