Hungry for some authentic BBQ when we arrived in Puerto Rico, we headed straight for Bebo’s BBQ, a mere mile or so from the airport. We rolled our shiny blue rental car into an open parking space in the parking lot and walked a couple of hundred feet to the outdoor kitchen and picnic tables that comprise the restaurant. The place was crowded. We waited in line for about 10 minutes with other hungry diners. The line moved slowly, but everyone seemed relaxed and happy.
When it was our turn to order we realized that the restaurant doesn’t post a menu (we pointed to the ample displays of fresh cooked food so the counterperson knew what we wanted), nor does it post prices for what it offers (we held our breath as the total rang up). We ordered two half chickens, two half portions of ribs, four sides of beans and rice, three sodas and two beers. The bill was $30, a bargain, especially after we tasted the tender pork and chicken. It was wonderful!
After washing up in the ultra fancy (glass tile, high-end fixtures) bathroom, we headed back to our car. And that’s when we noticed the deep dent in the rear left passenger side door of our rental. Whoever had parked next to us used our car as a curb to run along as he backed out of his parking space. Hit and run. Black rubber and big dent. Only a hundred feet or so from where we sat chowing down on excellent BBQ. Sheesh, people. That ain’t no way to begin a Puerto Rico vacation.
We pulled out on the highway and continued on to our hotel in Dorado, about a 45-minute drive. After a while my sister Cindy and her husband Bid said that they noticed many, many cars on the highway were battered, dented and beaten along their sides. I started to pay attention too. They were right! By our count every 5th car was battered and dented, and the majority of the dents were along the sides of the cars. And the bumpers of many were crumpled or dented. When we visited Puerto Rico two years ago, we noticed rusted cars and cars with missing parts. This trip, the number of cars that sported dents along their sides was astonishing.
At our next stop, a local Amigo food store in Dorado, my husband Mike parked the car waaay out in the parking lot, far away from other cars (and far from the many open parking spaces located much closer to the store’s entrance). Before Mike could even turn off the engine, a dented and battered car full of people pulled up and parked alongside us. Out in the middle of the furthest parking lot from the door of the food store! And I mean they parked rightnext to us.We got out of the car, locked it and went food shopping in Amigo. When we returned to our car it was surrounded by other dented and battered cars, some with paint on them and some without, even though there were many open spaces much closer to the store’s entrance. We felt like we were being pranked or something, but no TV cameras appeared.
As we loaded the groceries into the trunk, I noticed that the front bumper on the driver’s side of our car was hanging slightly. I walked to the front of the car to take a better look. Someone hit the car while we were food shopping! The bumper clips were broken right off. We all stared at the damage. Another hit and run within an hour of the first?!
The next morning Mike and I went to the local CVS. We parked the car as far away from the store entrance and any other cars as possible. When we returned to the car it was (once again!) surrounded by battered and dented vehicles, even though there were many open parking places much nearer to the store’s entrance. We walked around the car, looking for further damage. Thank goodness, we didn’t see any.
Then we headed to Radio Shack. Once again Mike parked very far from the store’s entrance. He parked in an area of the parking lot where we were the only car, and we were surrounded by many open parking places. And they were plenty of open parking spaces right near the store entrance. I decided to stay in the car while Mike got what he needed. Before Mike could even exit our car, a battered and dented car pulled up and parked right next to us. He pulled so close that when I turned my head I stared into the driver’s eyes less than two feet from me. It was the weirdest thing. The guy got out and walked into a store faaarrrr from where he parked. Before Mike returned from his errand the first car drove away, but not a minute later another car pulled up and parked next to us. Again, less than two feet away from my eyeballs.
When we visited Puerto Rico two years ago the roads were in deplorable condition and we almost broke an axle in a pothole; you can read about that here. But two years ago our rental car didn’t get battered and beaten just by parking it in a parking lot or three. Have you vacationed in Puerto Rico? Has your rental car been battered and beaten? Please share so we don’t feel so alone in our (expensive) misery.
P.S. I am not posting photos of our poor damaged rental car to protect the innocent.