Last week I went off island for the first time since we moved here. Two and a half months. It was a business trip (and those who know me know that the words “business trip” don’t mean stuffy meetings and boring conferences. Cap’n Slappy and I were performing our pirate shtick in Philadelphia.)
I liked the city, at least as much as I saw of it. The hotel was clean, the museum was nice. That’s almost all we saw. There was a lot more traffic – obviously – than on St. Croix, but it mostly flowed smoothly. On my one foray out to find aspirin at a drug store two blocks away, I enjoyed the street life in the central city.
But it wasn’t home. When I got off the plane the weather seemed chilly – 70, maybe 72 compared to the stx, which is about 10 degrees warmer. I actually slept under a blanket! And while the people were all friendly enough, I missed the outgoing dispositions of my fellow islanders, who wouldn’t dream of entering a room without greeting everyone present with a “Good morning!” (Or afternoon or night, obviously, as appropriate.) And yeah, I missed my family a lot.
The weekend went well, the audiences liked us, the people who had hired us seemed to love us, and all in all we did fine. But I was sure ready to go home.
They always say, “No matter how long your layover in San Juan is, it’s not long enough.” Not because it's so great. It's an airport, not much better or worse than any other I've been to. I guess the issue is making your connecting flight and making sure your luggage gets transferred to the right plane. But I’m telling you, six hours was way more than enough. Three would have been plenty. My flight out left at 10:40 a.m. and arrived in Philly at 8:30 p.m. Six hours on the ground in San Juan. The homeward flight left at 7:50 and I got into stx at 6 p.m. All the extra time on the ground in Puerto Rico.
It’s very, very hard to sleep in those hard plastic airport seats that are exactly the wrong size and shape to relax into. Once you’ve cruised through the duty-free shops and realized you don’t need anything they’re selling, you’ve pretty much exhausted the entertainment options. There was a TV set on the Weather Channel, and even without sound I watched that pretty constantly (thanks closed-captioning!) keeping track of Invest 93, the weather system that never quite formed a tropical depression (thanks upper atmosphere wind shear!) and was dumping huge amounts of rain on the island.
The heavy rains and head winds meant the plane had to take on extra fuel, but there wasn’t a person on board who’d have voted to delay. We wanted out of San Juan!
Forty minutes later the ATR 70 turboprop set down at the stx airport. And there was Tori and Max to greet me! It was raining, and by 8 that evening the rain had turned to a tropical downpour courtesy of Invest93. Between the warmth and the rain it was positively steamy.
It was great to be home.