Rock You Like a Hurricane

So, apparently I have a thing with hurricanes…

In 2015, I was scheduled to take a cruise to Mexico during the same time Hurricane Patricia was making her way along the Baja peninsula. 

I ended up missing the storm by just a couple days.

One near brush with a hurricane should have been enough to scare me away from booking tropical vacations during hurricane season…

But, sometimes I like to learn things the hard way. 

Mine and Garrett’s first vacation together was to Puerto Rico in September 2017. 

We had been dating for 4 months, and we were scheduled to spend a week in San Juan on a kid-free, alcohol-fueled 30th birthday trip.

It ended up being all of that and more. 

Hurricane Irene hit the island not long before we scheduled to leave for vacation, but I wasn’t too worried. 

My final words to Garrett before we left were something like, “The island was just hit with a hurricane. What are the chances one will hit again while we’re there!?”

Apparently my logic was good enough for him, because off we went to Puerto Rico… 

Suffice it to say, there’s a reason I’m not a meteorologist. 

We were in San Juan for less than 24 hours when we realized we made a huge mistake. It was September 17, 2017 and people were getting really worried about Hurricane Maria. 

That day, we took an amazing ATV excursion through the rainforest, and on the way back to our hotel we noticed the vast majority of buildings getting boarded up. 

Our collective thought was “Uh oh.”

When we got to our hotel, we asked the front desk what the plan was for the storm, and the man replied with a straight face, “Pray to God.” 

At this point, we started searching every travel website under the sun for flights anywhere off the island. Orlando, NY, Boston, Nashville, etc etc. Everything was sold out. 

We suddenly realized we might be stuck. 

We went to the grocery store across the street to buy supplies, only to find that all of the water was completely gone. 

We bought rum instead. 

The next night (September 18) we took an evening kayak tour through the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo; simultaneously admiring the stunning beauty, while struggling with an impending sense of doom. 

Quite frankly, it was eerie to be out in the middle of the bay, in the pitch black, knowing that a hurricane was headed our way. It’s not a memory I’ll ever forget. 

And throughout that entire day, there were still no flights to be had. 

That night, we went to bed fearful, but still incredibly naive about the impending storm. We knew it might be bad, but we had no idea just how bad. 

We knew we wanted off the island, but couldn’t find a way out. I didn’t want to be stuck away from Dominic with no means of communicating. 

It was terrifying, so of course, we drank more rum. 

It was a sleepless night, and around 2 am I sat up and said to Garrett, “I’m going to check Expedia just one more time to see if there are any new flights”. 

Lo and behold, there were new flights! 

I didn’t hesitate. I booked a flight right away and we started packing our bags. 

A short few hours later and we were headed to the airport to catch our flight. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9 am, and it got delayed until after 10. 

When we finally took off, everyone on the flight cheered. 

The last flight left the island at around noon that day. 

The next day (my birthday), Hurricane Maria hit. 

We ended up spending the rest of my birthday in NYC, and it was a magical trip. We celebrated by drinking hurricanes (of course), as we tried to calm our fight or flight responses. 

It wasn’t until much later that we truly realized the gravity of the storm and just how fucking lucky we were to get off that island. 

Since then, we’ve often joked that our first vacation was the perfect metaphor for our relationship. Exciting, terrifying, magical, and nearly a disaster.

But we’ve come a long way since then.

We’ve even learned a thing or two… 

When we heard that San Diego was set to be directly in the path of Hurricane Hilary, we looked at each other knowingly and said, “Of course it is.”

Then, we went and bought cases of bottled water like responsible adults. 

Who says we haven’t learned!? 

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