a soul sister [mis]adventure: or, when travel isn’t perfect.
“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.”
– Dave Barry
He’d sounded so confident when we spoke on Wednesday, smooth-talking Miguel at Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Over the phone, he had assured me I could call anytime during my stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to book a rental car for the next day.
(And before we go any further, I know what you’re thinking – whatever made me think I could trust a rental car salesman, right?)
Naturally, when I call him back Saturday afternoon, just fifteen minutes before closing time, they’re all booked up for Sunday.
“But you said there’d be cars…”
“Well now we full.”
“I said we’re full. Tomorrow very busy. Maybe call in the morning.”
Which I do, of course, but only to receive the same unapologetic message. The two other nearby (and thus walkable) options are too expensive, leaving me with no choice but to catch a bus to the airport.
What follows is a classic cocktail of travel frustration: an hour’s wait for the bus, another hour on the bus, complications with the booking, and three missed turns on the way back to Old San Juan – all of which ensure I am so not making the 1pm ferry in Fajardo to Vieques Island.
Have I mentioned how much fun renting a car is?
Unfortunately, I haven’t come to Puerto Rico alone – my sister Brooke is accompanying me for our first travel adventure ever as self-professed soul sisters (please cue Train’s song of the same name).
And because I am the world’s expert on stress management, I perfectly manage to put my not-so-perfect morning behind me when I pick her up back in San Juan.
And so the afternoon feels just as long as we grab lunch-on-the-go from Wendy’s, miss three more turns to Fajardo, show up thirty minutes late for the ferry, kill time at Wal-Mart, and finally board the 4.30pm crossing to Vieques.
Night has nearly fallen by the time we reach our hotel, and although I’m supposedly here to write a review of the beautiful Hix Island House, there’s only one thing on my mind: I’ve blown it.
After a quiet dinner and even quieter evening, we try to talk about what exactly went wrong during the day.
“I don’t want you to feel like you have to make everything perfect,” Brooke says in her usual wisdom. “And just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean the trip is ruined.”
More than anything else India taught me, it’s exactly that – but for the thousandth time, I’d forgotten that travel won’t always be perfect – and that I myself won’t always be a perfect traveler.
I fall asleep that night with a lighter heart – knowing that while I’d screwed things up, life will still go on. And when we arrive at the ferry terminal for our return journey the next day, we’ve both got smiles on our faces.
Because that’s how soul sisters roll – even when life gets messy, even when adventures go wrong.
Do you have any stories of learning to embrace the imperfect side of travel? I’d love to hear them!