Hot air greeted us as we stepped out of the airplane in San Juan, Puerto Rico feeling energized. This was the start of our journey as a full-time traveling family. We made it! After getting our tiny blue rental car, we started our drive. Immediately, I noticed road conditions were different than the US.
That One Time I Got Lost In The Jungle
There were literally giant holes in the middle of the road. The highway wasn’t that bad but when we made our turn off the highway into the beginning of the El Yunque Rain Forest, things changed quickly.
At this point, a slight drizzle of rain fell, and my tiny blue car slowly navigated around the giant holes in the road as the jungle closed in on us.
I didn’t take into account that my phone GPS might not work very well in Puerto Rico. Instantly, I regretted not taking the rental car company offer of including a GPS in the vehicle. Damn it, Amoya!
The GPS said to go straight so that is what we did for what seemed like forever.
We saw a house every once in a while but not much more. As we got deeper in the jungle, fewer and fewer houses materialized.
Did You Say Zombies?
Burnt down cars appeared. I am not kidding! On the side of the road, every 50 feet or so were these burnt down cars. It looked like a zombie apocalypse.
Imagine the scene of The Walking Dead when Rick sees that little zombie girl with the teddy bear walking around all those burnt down and damaged cars. Now, throw in some jungle and you have a good picture of what I was seeing minus the zombie girl. She must have been hiding somewhere.
Momma Be Trippin’
We were losing sunlight and no street lights would save us. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. I was.
I was trying to stay calm but in true Trippin’ Momma fashion, my internal emotions were showing on the outside.
We are going to fall into a hole.
We are never going to get there.
We are going to be attacked by zombies.
Okay. So I didn’t say that last one out loud. But the other two? Yep!
I desperately tried to get a hold of the Airbnb owner with absolutely no luck for a good hour. The reception was terrible.
And then… the GPS said, “You Have Arrived.”
Outside our windows jungle was everywhere and burnt down cars. No houses in site. How the hell could we be there?
At this point, I had a baby screaming in the back seat, and I was so close to having a complete breakdown when I finally got a hold of the Airbnb owner.
She was talking about mile markers. Looking at the mile marker in front of us, we were nowhere close. My phone battery was dying and I was sure that if I lost contact with the owner, we would be spending the night in the jungle.
Do you know what comes out in the jungle at night? The boogie man of course!
Follow The Yellow Brick Road
I drove straight some more. Truthfully, I drove straight an hour more as we counted down the mile markers hoping we were headed in the right direction.
The Airbnb owner said she would be waiting at a corner in a blue truck. With barely and landmarks around, we just had to pray we were headed towards her.
It turns out, we were. Her blue truck was parked on a corner just like she said it would be. We spotted it nearly 10 minutes after my phone had died.
Immediately, my heart slowed. I felt more at ease.
At this point, it was pouring down rain. The owner waved for us to follow her. We did just that.
We drove slowly as the roads began to flood. I worried about our little rental car being able to make it through any high waters.
Finally, we pulled into a gate and into a driveway. We made it. We survived our first driving day in Puerto Rico and our first time in the Puerto Rican Rain Forest aka The Jungle.
We all got out of the car, hungry and shaken but also relieved.
I stood mesmerized for a moment by the beautiful jungle surrounding the property.
We climbed the stairs to the house. The house was raised off the ground and the carport was underneath. I am assuming it was to prevent flooding because there was a river right next to the house.
Inside, overcome with exhaustion, I didn’t really pay attention as the beautiful Puerto Rican woman showed us around.
To be honest, I don’t even remember her name but I do remember her long black curly hair and thick accent.
She left us. It was hot due to tons of humidity and no air conditioning.
We were starving. I did not want to leave the house again that evening so I was relieved to find pasta in the cabinet and butter in the fridge plus some eggs. I could make the girls a simple butter pasta dinner and for breakfast, we could have some scrambled eggs.
That is exactly what I did. We scarfed it down. Every last bite of the buttery pasta mixed with some garlic powder.
And then we sat and listened.
We listened to the jungle sounds. It was fucking magical.
That moment, we forgot about how sticky we were from humidity, we forgot about our terrifying drive through the jungle, and we just listened to all the sounds of the jungle.
It was loud and powerful. I inhaled the smell of fresh rain.
There were no lights around. It was pitch black and the only thing you could hear was the sounds of the rain hitting the roof and the sounds of the jungle.
I went to sleep to the music of the jungle.