We were already docked in Old San Juan when I woke up. My cellular-services-are-available sense failed me. So did that liter and a half of water I drank the night before.
The sun streamed into our cabin, blinding our eyes and waking us to the harsh reminder that we had met the conclusion of this adventure.
But before we could close the book on this trip, we still had to get through debarkation and a long flight home. We had a quick breakfast up on Lido before sitting out our wait near the pool. Not even 8:00 am and the sun was pulsing hot.
Debarkation was a bit sloppy, but it didn’t take long for us to get off the ship, gather our suitcases and get through customs. We stepped foot out into Old San Juan as we walked towards our transfer and it was almost like the past week had never happened – that we were back a week before looking forward to this huge adventure in all of these new places.
The ride to the airport was short – it didn’t take longer than a half hour or so. We took a Carnival transfer because it seemed like the most convenient option. It’s probably cheaper to take a cab because of the pre-published zoned rates, but the parking area is incredibly small and congested at debarkation, and finding and boarding the transfer was quick and easy and we were at the Luis Munoz Marin Airport in no time.
The transfer will not drop you off at your terminal, however it’ll drop you off in between the two major ones, and it’s a short walk to the check-in desks. Prior to debarkation, they warned us that we’d have to go through an agricultural check at the airport and to make sure we weren’t taking any produce/flowers/plants/etc back with us. Sure enough, right before security, we had to put our bags through an x-ray for the agricultural check. Our bags were stickered to note that we passed and we made our way through security.
Luis Munoz Marin is a small airport. There wasn’t much to do, it wasn’t even 10:30 am and our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon. I’m used to O’Hare, where there’s shops and restaurants and champagne bars and people. So we browsed some of the shops (and found Mom that YOLO shirt she was looking for). And we hit up the Margaritaville for some early lunch (food options in the airport are extremely limited). We walked around.
We bought some Gasolina at the Dufry shop. We checked through our emails and texted our friends back home and we waited. And waited. And waited.
American only flies direct into San Juan from Chicago once a day, and it only returns to Chicago once a day. And just when we thought we couldn’t bear the wait anymore, our plane landed and we began the boarding process.
The in-flight purser offered us a choice of orange juice and water before takeoff and after a smooth departure, we were soon amongst the clouds, taking one last look at Puerto Rico.
So remember when I mentioned in the previous post that I do dumb stuff sometimes? Around the time I mentioned drinking a liter and a half of water to force myself to wake up during the night to check for service on my phone? Well, that liter and a half of water went somewhere and that somewhere was straight into my ankles and feet. It was fortuitous we were flying first and I had plenty of legroom to stretch out in because I knew I had to be up frequently to try to reduce the swelling. Less fortuitous was the fact that I booked the window seat for the first time in over a decade and Stephanie had to get up to let me out to walk up and down the aisle every hour.
The purser came around to take drink and lunch orders and soon thereafter, a glass of champagne and a ramekin of warm nuts appeared.
This flight did not have wi-fi service, but I was mesmerized by the reflection of the low-laying clouds on the water.
And when the turbulence shook the plane? Another glass of champagne appeared. Ding.
Lunch was served just under an hour into the flight. A delicious chicken dish served with a fresh salad. American has recently changed their first class meal service and the reviews haven’t been great. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for something decent on our upcoming flights.
Stephanie, however, was too congested to taste what she was eating.
Dessert was a cookie baked fresh onboard. Supposedly American doesn’t do that anymore, either. Another round of something boozy (for me) and another glass of water for Stephanie. Across the aisle, my mother alternated between shooting daggers at me and asking Stephanie if I was drunk. The flight was bumpy and the alternatives to the drinks were either one, Dramamine (but after the Tropical Storm Barry incident of 2007, Stephanie says I’m not allowed to take Dramamines anymore) or two, over-analyzing every bump (and after the post-Tropical Storm Barry flight of 2008, where I had a quasi panic attack from buckling myself into my seat and the woman next to us on the plane said she’d pray for me, that wasn’t an ideal option, either). Lady Purser Fantastic Being Person kept ‘em coming and I rode a wave of bubbles all the way to Chicago.
We hit some heavy clouds and turbulence when we re-entered the United States and I subsequently…fell asleep.
I woke up with the jolt that came when we broke through the clouds, just in time to play my favorite game: spot my apartment building from the airplane.
And then…we landed. We got our luggage. We got in a cab. We stopped at Mom’s house and Stephanie drove me back to my apartment. The adventure du jour ended and the world kept spinning.
And up next? The Southern Caribbean next week. A couple of weeks of Europe in May. And wherever the wind takes me in-between (the winds are preliminarily blowing towards Spain, Seattle and, of course, my beloved San Francisco). You’re all welcome to come along for the rides. Thanks for coming on this one.