I guess when we first started talking about this journey I turned to my good friend google. It provided me with pictures of Puerto Rico. Images that captured sandy beaches, beautiful expat homes in gated communities.. the best that this place has to offer. Google led me to other Irish people that live there and the one peace of advice that everyone had was, “It will all make sense when you’re here.”
So, armed with packed bags, a car seat and three business class tickets we left Wexford last Saturday morning. Part of me, was shocked that this was actually happening. We stopped at my Mother’s grave, tears streaming, wondering were we insane. Was this the right thing to do. I never anticipated that this feeling would actually follow me all week.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is what we signed up. I knew the reality of leaving our family and friends but we signed up to an adventure. One that included nice weather all year round, outdoor living and a place where I would stay at home and spend all day looking after our son, something that I was looking forward to having just gone through four months of Mammy guilt. Ya know, the guilt you get when you drop your child off with someone else, someone that they love and get so excited to see each day. It’s a great complaint but it makes you question why you’re working to pay someone else to look after your child. Someone that makes you wonder if your child prefers the childminder more than the parents.
I digress. The plane journey was LONG! We thought that being in business class, with a car seat for Michael to sleep in that it would be a smooth journey but there was just too much for him to look at. Too much going on. I think on the 7 hour flight to JFK he slept about an hour and a half. We had some laugh out loud moments, like when changing Michael in the toilet he kicked off his socks and they went down the toilet. We didn’t have a spare so we just had a bare foot baby. That’s ok, we can cope with that! The screaming with ears popping and lack of sleep… not so much. It was TOUGH! After a change over in JFK we got straight on another place to San Juan. This time he slept for about an hour and finally at 7pm US time we arrived to Puerto Rico. We waited for our luggage and the inevitable. Of course the airline lost something… the huge bugaboo bag – carrying our bugaboo buggy, Michael’s nappies, formula, black out blinds and anything else that you would describe as essential for a 9 month old.
After a 30 minute taxi to Dorado we arrived to our temporary accommodation.
At this point we were exhausted. And we were overwhelmed by the people in the house when we arrived… the owner and two members of his family and a lady who worked in the relocation company that was organizing our move. We literally just wanted to go to bed but Michael had other ideas. He was at this point so over tired and exhausted that he just couldn’t settle. It was about to become a long night and would then be a long week.
The next day we picked up a temporary car and drove around Dorado. Everything here is drive through.. its nuts! The starbucks, the pharmacy, all the restaurants, even the bank. Crazy!
Rob started work on Monday so I was alone in the house for the first week. I hadn’t anticipated the isolation of being in a strange country with a small baby and being in a secluded area with no transport. The complex we are staying in is fine but not within walking distance of much. It gave me time to adjust to being home with Michael again and trying to get him to sleep and used to the time difference.
On Tuesday I two Irish ladies living here popped over for coffee which actually turned out to Barrys Tea. That’s the Irish for you. The rest of the week was uneventful. I was so looking forward to Friday and the first week to be over. On Friday one of the lovely Irish ladies collected me and Michael and brought us around the town and showed me all the places that I need to know and then brought me to a baby play date where I met two American ladies with little kids. It was so nice to be out of the house! Friday night was a sleepless night due to a house two doors away having a crazy house party until after 4am. I was unimpressed to say the least. I’m officially old.
Saturday was unsuccessful house hunting. Four unsuitable unfurnished properties and one amazing house that we loved but that’s out of our budget. I fear that houses may be more difficult to get than we anticipated. I’m really hoping that something will come up soon and we can get moving. Saturday we went to a lovely BBQ hosted by Rob’s work colleagues for our arrival. Everyone is so nice and so helpful. I know they have all been through it as they arrived here so hopefully I can do it for someone in a year when they are new.
Puerto Rico is a strange place and consistency isn’t something that happens often. Grocery shopping is an experience. Some things that we would describe as essentials are crazy expensive. $5.00 for a small container of mushrooms, $7.00 for yogurt, $5.00 for two litres of milk! Yet you can buy a bottle of Bacardi for $8.00!
We went to an outlet shopping centre today and clothing is slightly more expensive than the states but it’s memorial day weekend here so they all had sales on. We went to Chilli’s Restaurant for dinner and Michael got his first balloon. They were super child friendly and they couldn’t have been nicer so we will definitely be going back there again.
Things I learnt this week:
1. It’s always hot. Even when its raining.
2. When it rains, it really rains. Like monsoon rain.
3. Mosquitos are the bane of my life and they love me. I have tried so many different things this week and still every day I wake up with new bites that swell up like crazy.
4. Amazon prime is my new best friend. It’s way too easy but serious damage is being done.
5. My hair does not appreciate the humidity. Not one bit. I’m going to be like Monica from friends for the next two years.
6. They drive like lunatics. U turns, cutting across four lanes, texting while driving… all normal here!
On another note, I followed each update of the Marriage Equality Referendum in Ireland. Ireland, I’m so proud of you. I cried tears of joy as I watched the videos on Facebook and Twitter of marriage proposals, declarations of love and outpouring of emotion. I’m so glad that now the gay people in my life that I’m so lucky to call friends can be treated as equals in their unions and relationships. Amazing.