Monday, September 19, 2011

Traveling after a long time

Living n a small island you tend to take for granted that you will bump into people with whom you’re connected in some way or other; if you’re new to life in the small islands, you may be cautioned to be careful what you say because the person you’re saying it about might very well be closely related to the one you’re saying it to. But I didn’t expect to be sitting on the plane to the UK next to a young man returning with his wife from their honeymoon in St. Lucia and find out that he’s from the very small village in the UK, Alsager, where I went to college. At least I didn’t discover that during a conversation about the things I didn’t like about my experiences in that little village! Maybe a lot has changed in those 19 + years…he seemed quite pleasant, and my apologies to any Alsagerites that read this and are offended, doh be vex – there was a lot I liked about Alsager too.
Anyhow, it’s been a trip already. I whiled away quite a bit of time watching one of the BA stewardesses face as she picked up the ‘rubbish’ after our breakfast….Lord! You would’a think she was scooping up clumps from the litter box, not ends of halfheartedly eaten airline meals. She had thick false eyelashes and painted on lips…her disdainful, pained face was hilarious.
As I stepped off the plane I wondered what exactly it was again that possessed me to take my long-awaited vacation during the beginning of autumn? 9C…I forgot how cold my nose gets :-) But I know I’ll adjust fast enough – I really miss the cool weather to walk in – I plan to hit the Amsterdam streets on foot a lot while I’m here…and by bike too in their cute little fietspaths – my sister is hoping to get me a folding bike…well, we’ll see how that goes – I guess at least my feet will be able to reach the ground and I won’t have to try to elegantly balance with fingertips on the feitspath stoplights pole trying not to look like the non-native Dutch rider that I am. Fond memories of the bike rides to work at 6:30 am in an Alphen an de Rejn.
So, what kinda irked me upon my arrival at Gatwick was that I found out our less-than-professional duty-free shops in many Caribbean islands don’t bother to ask their customers if they are transferring beyond the UK when they really should: I now know you can’t take bottles of alcohol through transit in the UK unless they are packed in a properly sealed bag/box – ‘officially’ sealed somehow. The people at the bag check were excellent in dealing with it – explained it clearly and took me through, back out to the check in, pleasant apologetic chat all the way – now why they apologizing for something my country doesn’t do, well…
At the queue I was directed to, I met an Italian guy returning home from Trinidad in the same boat, just that he had TnT rum of course…so we navigated the whole process together his English wasn’t so good and I was happy to trade off my language assistance for the company through the maze - which ended up with us having to enter the UK, then check the alcohol in at the BA customer service desk – in a checkable bag of course, which I had and he didn’t, so at that point we parted ways, he planning to find his travelling partner again and share some rum drinking I guess.
All the staff – at every point - were super professional and of course me being me, I quizzed them all about this whole situation cos I find it’s pretty ridiculous – the guys at baggage check told me there’s a constant flow of people in this situation all day long…now tell me, how difficult can it be for our shops to put up a couple signs, their staff to ask a simple question? We real lazy eh? I promised the ladies at the BA Customer Service that I’d see what I could do to at least change things in St. Lucia – I don’t like the idea of how many people’s last dealing with us is of bad customer service and they either have to dump the Chairmans or go through a whole rigmarole and possibly extra cost (if they have to buy a bag or the BA staff decide they vex that day and charge for the extra luggage).
Now with 6hrs to kill in Gatwick I figured at least I could waste some of it on the internet…only to find out there isn’t free wifi??? Well at least in that we have the up on them. I must be giving out a good vibe though cos as I sat down to the pay-as-you-surf station a stranger called me over to their station to take over the remains of their paid for session – just to say the service uses some backwards Internet Explorer version that wouldn’t load my gmail unless I went to basic html…nothing like coming from the fully loaded 3rd world to the 1st world inconveniences ;-)
Their airport coffee beats ours hands down though. Sorry Rituals…you have them with the free internet but not the coffee and eats.
Mwe Las tho, mwe las…I sorry for my sister cos she’s going to get a half-functioning lil’ sister’s muddled head to deal with for the first day or too. At least I know she makes a knocking coffee…that should help
Now, let me go write Senator Chastanet an email about this rum thing…