Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 0:

Here is an account of my adventures in the Caribbean, be they both good and bad, for 8 days at sea and the dangers that we survived.  Let it be known that the Southern Caribbean is not all nice and resort-like for the most part, with Aruba as an exception compared to the rest of the Caribbean!  Perils at every turn, and I did not escape all of them.

Hence, is an adventure.  If there was no conflict, it would have simply been a journey, but Life is more than that, as we all know by our own experiences through time, and there is balance in all things.

Day 0:  Puerto Rico or Bust

  We left in the dark of night to Colorado Springs airport merely 5 miles away from us to take an early flight to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, by way of Denver and Charlotte, North Carolina.  We were lucky to get the last leg of the flight upgraded to first-class for $150 which made the 3.5 hour final thrust quite acceptable with chairs that lounged near-horizontal that didn't affect the person behind, though I was disappointed I couldn't sit next to Becky on that last portion, we wouldn't have been able to do so in coach as well.  All the flights were fully booked and crammed. 
  I'm not a fan of the lowering quality of coach class.  Despite some 3.5 hour legs, there's no free meals (they can be purchased for about $9 and they're usually crap)  One drink service is rough.  At least first-class you're offered real silverware, lots of drinks, etc.  I enjoyed Glenlivet 12-yr. (for free).  Normally we never take first-class because if you pre-buy it, it's usually an extra few thousand dollars, which is ridiculous.  When you get to the ticket counter, you can usually upgrade for somewhere between $70 and $300 I find, depending on the distance, etc.  $150 made it worthwhile.  Coach class has degraded to such a low standard I barely feel human.  I'm not a huge person.  At 5'6" or so, I'm burly-built but not immense per-se.  I've got a bit of a belly but not freakin' gigantic.  Still, I find I barely fit in those coach-class seats.  One gripe I have is that stupid center seat.  Why do they make them three across?  Forces the introduction of a stranger on your travels, and that center seat owner should be allowed both arm-rests, no?  Still, I find most humans will elbow-into-the-gut on either end, giving no consideration.  Usually most people don't lay their seat back as well, as in coach-class the person behind is tortured with even less room, the center seat suffers greatly this way, chin almost on the headrest ahead.  The only recourse is to suffer further or continue the disservice by propagating the insult to your rear-neighbor, leaning your seat back as well.  Do you continue the crime or silently endure?  Normally I endure.
  But to back-track, still in-coach-class we arrive in Charlotte roughly, bouncing hard on the tarmac over 10 times.  Becky informed me the woman behind me was crying.  Several folks were really freaking out.  I applauded loudly, explaining it was cheaper than DisneyWorld, which lightened the mood of those within earshot and smiled a bit, softening things.  It was nearly a 2g landing.  I myself have performed a 1.5g landing in a Cessna.  Really an eye-opener.  The Boeing 757 can withstand a 2.1g landing or more.  Some glasses in the cabin shattered.
  Charlotte, North Carolina airport is odd.  There's a full-on movie poster of Mannequin 2: On the Move displayed prominently on the moving walkway complete with Hollywood Montrose which I was delighted to see, but my camera was tucked away and couldn't get to it in time to photo it, but it's there.
  There's a huge amount of Amish-style rocking chairs painted white all around with folks lounging in them.  It's QUITE a busy airport.  More so than Logan in Boston or about on-par with LAX in Los Angeles.  More so than O'Hare in Chicago, yet it's the size of Colorado Springs' mini-airport. 
  We were accosted by a female elderly guard stating we couldn't sit in the handicapped area, "Miss?  Do you need assistance?  I don't think soYou need to move on."  Becky flashed her prosthetic leg attachment and she shut the frack up right-quick.  Rather rude I think, that guard.  No one else was there.  We weren't taking up space.  I was suggested to try Chester's Chicken or some such but the fast food chain looked ill there so we just moved on to our gate to Puerto Rico, luckily upgrading to 1st class for $150.
  We land in Puerto Rico, no passports required (as it's almost a 51st state [or 58th, according to Obama in a recent speech]).  The landing was fine and neet.  Smallish aiprort again.  Similar to Colorado Springs.  We get there at night and the lights of the city are pretty through the window on the north end of the large island.
  We get our luggage without a hitch and hail a taxi.  I manage my best Espaniol to get us to the Courtyard Marriott which is about 10 miles away.  We drive hell-bent through the city.  It's Friday night and cops are a'blazin' and I mention it to the driver, mucho policia!  The elderly, miniscule driver muses over this as we bounce around in the van's bench seat roughly.  No seat belts here.  Some vehicles are simply stopped on the highway, all of a sudden.  Some are very unsure to go left or right at a fork so stop in the middle of the fork and wait it out.  It's quite a wild ride, but I had pre-navigated the route and he took us there the best possible way so that's good.  $18.  Fair deal.
  The Courtyard Marriott in Puerto Rico was satisfactory.  Not too much mold or chipping paint.  Better than I expected, the upgrade would be the Marriott Stellaris which is $900 more per night versus the $179 I paid.  For that money I felt it was satisfactory.
  We're now past Eastern Standard Time onto Atlantic Standard Time so now it's just about 11pm, 8pm MST.  About 12 hours of travel.  Not too bad, but a full day of go-go-go.  Our ship leaves 8pm tomorrow night, though we can board at 2pm for lunch.  And we're alive in San Juan!


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