Storytime: Stranded at midnight in Puerto Rico
Over the pandemic - my sister-in-law me and her sister decided to do a trip to Puerto Rico. No kids or husbands , just the three of us . It was going to be a girls trip like no other with lots of chilling on the beach , good food , spa days and did I say no kids or husbands :) Go on give a deep sigh - I know you want to!
We landed at our airbnb by the beach and spent the night plotting and planning what fun we want to have.
Top on our list was to try out some night kayaking in Fajardo to check out their famous bioluminescence bay. 'Paddle your way through the mystical mangrove channels leading to “Laguna Grande.' the tour promised. Yes, please!
(Bioluminescence simply put is the natural light emitted by microscopic plankton called Pyrodinium Bahamense at the touch of your hand. You remember that magical scene from Life of Pi ? That's the one)
"Should we rent a car ? It's a few hours away from the city so looks pretty remote" My sister-in-law said. Here's the thing, when you live for a long time in a certain place - San Francisco , Boston and Chicago in our cases, you get a little de-sensitized to how travel can be difficult in certain places. Of course there's Uber / Lyft.. travel is easy peasy you think. "Rent a car? Why bother , let's Uber" , I said. (Bad decision , Gayathri !:))
We book the tour for the next day (these guys are amazing btw) , have an fun day strolling through the streets of Old San Juan , grabbed a lovely dinner and decided to head to our tour at night (which started at 930 PM ). We got an uber easily enough at 630 or so . "So glad we decided to skip the car rental" we congratulated ourselves . Our driver, a lady in her 60s was happy to chat with us about her life - how Hurricane Maria impacted her, how she loved Indian food , her kids etc etc etc. The hours passed and we were about 15 mins from our destination (per the gps) when the place started getting really dark and isolated. No shops, no hotels, nothing.... "Is this the right address" , our driver asked. We double checked and yup! that was the address . Finally, after 15 minutes of nothingness, we arrived at a harbor filled with small food shacks , cars and boats.
We found the tour and had a blast from 930-11.30 PM .Kayaking through the waters, in between the mangroves with just the swish-swish from the kayak paddles - ah-ma-zing <3
When we came back at 11.30 , we thanked the guide, pulled up our uber app and.....
nothing. Nada, Zip. No uber cars available at all.
Holy, Guacamole! What do we do.
We were stranded after midnight in a place with no hotels for miles and miles.
The next 10 mins passed by with a flurry of suggestions - all picked up to be rejected. We then decided to ask our tour guide if he knew of a way we could get back. He clicked his tongue when he heard we were just planning to uber back and then said .. well there is big Dave.. he's usually not available but I can call him for you and see if he's around to take you. Might cost you 150$ he said. At this point - faced between camping overnight in the harbour or walking 10-12 miles in the dark to find a hotel - Big Dave sounded like a manna from heaven ! After a few mins - the tour guide confirmed Big Dave is going to be able to make it but he wanted Cash. While we were waiting for Big Dave we dug around our pockets and finally scraped the required amount. Phew!
A huge white van (meant to host 20 people atleast) pulls up and a guy who looks like Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson gets out. Now we know why he is called Big Dave! We carefully step into the van and get ready to head back to our airbnb.
Now let me tell you , I've met some interesting people in my life but Big Dave had a fascinating history! He apparently was a DJ in the late 60s and 70s playing in clubs then morphed into a body guard for actors who came to film movies in Puerto Rico - from Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean to Will Smith in Bad Boys 2. His anecdotes were hilarious -from close calls with the stars to the time he tried acting himself. Big Dave told us how he re-invented himself in his life over and over again (Love that!) and now had a limo services business in Puerto Rico and shared his learnings on building his business. The 2 hours back home just flew by! Over the next week we ran into Big Dave a few more times near Old San Juan - he always had a smile for us and shared great tips (best puerto rican place, the nicest pina coladas and so on) :)
So that's it for my story folks. Life is full of happy accidents like this where you meet interesting people . These make for the best memories. Also Gayathri (sis-in-law) and Namratha if you guys are reading this - Puerto Rico was a blast in your company <3 <3 Am ready for the next girls trip :)