Written by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions Communication and Relocation Consulting
I have had an interesting journey through my almost seven years in Puerto Rico. Until recently, I didn’t think that my story was all that special. A dear friend convinced me that we are all meant to tell our stories. With that in mind, I have gone back through my early writings to share some of my adventures with you.
Two hours to the beach
It’s now been two weeks since I arrived on the island. Determined not to let another day go by without a trip to the beach, I pack my sunscreen, towel, and a fashion magazine. Sliding my sunglasses over my ears, I give myself a pep talk and get into the red Honda that I am borrowing for the day. I slowly back out of the driveway and make my way onto the Expreso. Driving amidst the other cars on the highway is still my biggest fear. Not only do I have no idea where I’m going, but people constantly cut me off under the assumption that a turn-signal is an unnecessary form of communication. That really ticks me off. Back home someone who forgets to use their turn signal is considered rude. It’s only polite to indicate your desire to turn in a certain direction, allowing the surrounding traffic ample time to get out of the way. Knowing that it’s likely someone is going to cut me off, I pay extra attention to the surrounding traffic, often missing the sign for my exit.
But today, I am determined to find the one beach that I know how to access. There is no entrance fee and there is usually ample parking, so going to Isla Verde sounds ideal. Approaching the tunnel, several cars zoom from lane to lane in front of
me. It’s dark in the tunnel and the lack of turn signals frightens me. I have no idea which way to go and am afraid to move from my position for fear of hitting someone. In the process of thinking through all of this, I veer to the left, heading toward San Juan. After a mile, I realize that I have made a mistake. I should have gone to the right as I exited the tunnel. Trying to correct my error, I pull off the highway and find myself in Condado. I recognize a few familiar sights. The water is several blocks away, but I can make out the crystal blue color in the distance.
“Well, I could go to this beach instead,” I say out loud. Changing my original plan, I look around for a parking space. After several blocks there is no space to be found—at least not any that I am willing to pull into in a borrowed car. I travel down a cross street trying to find a way back to the highway. The road seems to go East so I keep following it, hoping that it will eventually get me to Isla Verde. Feeling more confident, I travel on. Ten more minutes go by and then it appears on the horizon—El Morro. “How could this be? I was sure I was going toward Isla Verde.” Not knowing whether to laugh or cry at this point, I keep driving. “Eventually I am going to reach Isla Verde,” I state hesitantly.
I manage to get out of Old San Juan without too much trouble since I stayed in a hotel there on a previous trip. Passing by an area of hotels and restaurants that I recognize, I begin to get comfortable again. This time I am definitely going toward Isla Verde. I can see the highway and carefully merge with the traffic again. I go South, assuming that I’ll be able to get off near the tunnel and turn around.
“This looks like a promising exit. Let me take this one.” I pull off and immediately realize that this is not the exit that I should have taken. Again I am forced to search through the streets for an entrance back to the highway. Block after block passes, but I have no idea where I am. Eventually I realize that I have been driving the wrong way in a bus-only lane when a not-so-kind taxi driver scolds me from his own vehicle. Feeling exasperated and frustrated, I finally find something that looks familiar. To my chagrin it looks familiar because I was just at this same spot twenty minutes earlier. For the third time in the last hour I pass by the Sizzler.
“Maybe I’m not supposed to go to the beach today,” I confess. Ready to give up, I get back on the highway and decide to go back home. Along the way, my determination rears its head again. By the time that I reach the exit for my neighborhood, I decide to try one more time. Now I know that I have to go to the right in the tunnel so maybe I will actually get there if I just start over. With a sense of renewed confidence, I turn the car around.
Half an hour later, I finally park the car in front of the beautiful blue waters. “I did it!” I find a space under a large palm tree and spread my towel over the fine grains of sand. Settling into an article in my magazine, I congratulate myself on overcoming the challenge of getting to this beach. It took me two hours, but I finally did it, and I did it all by myself. “See Julie, you just need some practice. You’ll get the hang of this,” I tell myself. Ten blissful minutes pass by and then they come—big, wet raindrops. “Just my luck, I guess I really wasn’t meant to be on the beach today.” I toss my wet towel and beach bag in the back seat and decide that a mid-afternoon nap could offer a bit of reprieve from what has happened over the last few hours. Fortunately by now, I know the way home.
For more information on Global Perceptions or its President, Dr. Julie Parenteau, please visit http://globalperceptions.net/ or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Relocation.Specialist.PuertoRico