As some of my readers know, I signed up to preach on the tiny Caribbean island of Bonaire these last two weeks of August. One of CBC’s missionaries (Totoram Baran) is the the pastor of International Bible Church in Bonaire, and he was going to take some time off to visit the States, so a couple of us from Nashville got the opportunity to fill in. So last Friday, I got on a plane in Nashville and headed for the Caribbean.
Also headed for the Caribbean last Friday was a little storm named Dean. But this did not discourage American Airlines, so I was able to proceed from Nashville to Miami and from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I was scheduled to board the last leg of the flight, a 50-seat turbo-prop commuter to Bonaire. About thirty minutes before our scheduled departure, they cancelled the flight.
Because the plane they fly (only once a day) to Bonaire is so small, by the time I got to the front of the line for rebooking, the first seat I could get was going to be Monday. This meant I was going to miss my first preaching appointment Sunday morning. I was able to call the folks in Bonaire so they wouldn’t be surprised. As it turns out, Pastor Toto was not able to take the vacation he had planned (his wife Felicia is recovering from surgery), so he was there to preach. I was stuck in Puerto Rico for three days.
On Saturday, the weather was kind of bad. We were getting the backside rotation from the hurricane, so mostly I sat around the hotel doing nothing. On Sunday, the weather was nice, so I rented a car to do a little exploring.
San Juan looks and feels a lot like Miami, a mixture of Caribbean Hispanic & American. People speak Spanish until you give them a dumb look, and then they know to speak English-and most people can. On the highway, speed limits are in miles per hour, but distances are in kilometers.
I decided to visit Old San Juan, which is one of the oldest continuing settlements in the western hemisphere. It is actually a walled city, with a fortress on the point that juts out into the ocean. I took lots of pictures around the fort and the town, which is full of old spanish townhouses painted in bright latin american colors.
San Juan is on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, and there are miles and miles of beaches. On Monday, I drove east along the coast, and in a matter of minutes, you’re in what feels like very remote country. The beaches in this area are all deserted this time of year, but there were lots of unoccupied roadside food stands that hinted at larger crowds in the winter months.
My flight was at 6:55, but I had to turn the car in at 2:00, so I got to spend a few more hours in the San Juan airport, which is, by the way, not particularly well organized and in the midst of major renovations. But the flight was on time, and I was finally on my way to Bonaire.