An Adventure with LIAT: My Body Guards, Halcyon Heights, and I
It is amazing how a simple two-day trip can end up packed with so many adventures. So much so, that I can write more than one episodes about my trip. In this episode, I will share with you some of the moments that will forever be a part of my memories.
My flight to St. Thomas was on schedule at every transit. Unlike other people, I have never had much of an issue with LIAT’s flights. Maybe it is because I do not berate them when other people do, or maybe it is just plain good luck on my part. Whatever it is, I am thankful. I love flying with LIAT and always will, because I have had worst done to me by other airlines, without any sort of compensation. My adventure with LIAT is far more pleasing than these by other travelers on other airlines.
After enjoying the beautiful island of St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands, I embarked on my journey home. My intentions were to board LIAT, the Caribbean Airline, at 14:55 pm and travel through the many islands before getting to my destination in St. Vincent. Upon checking in, I received the great news that our flight was not on schedule due to a mechanical problem. But I was not going to complain. After all, it was much safer staying where I was, than back home breathing in molds in my rented apartment.
As we waited for an estimated departure time, I made good use of the delay by making friends with the people around me. Three persons with whom I made acquaintance included two St. Lucians and an Antiguan. I told them about the molds I had waiting back home for me, and we we talked about other topics, which took our interest, from cars, issues with our internet service providers, to wondering where we were going to sleep that night. Though the subjects were not funny, we laughed about it all.
As the time flew by, it became apparent that we were not getting to our final destination that night. At least, neither the St. Lucians nor myself, was getting anywhere far. Mr. Antiguan was certain he was getting home. In order to keep him quiet, I threatened to report this current situation to my Prime Minister, Dr. Gonsalves.
The first great thing to happen was that LIAT’s staff announced that the airline was offering us lunch, in light of the long delay. I was excited about having lunch but was a bit reluctant about going through the security checkpoint twice. Anyway, common sense over laziness, I proceeded to the nearby eatery with my newly found friends. I had not eaten lunch and was beginning to get hungry. No amount of security could have prevented me from getting lunch. I lost my friends for a while, as I skillfully made my way to the front of the line. Lunch was hot and consisted of baked chicken, fried wings, rice and a kind of beans, along with crispy broccoli and cauliflower. By the time I was finished eating, my friends were just getting to order lunch.
After lunch, we made our way back through security and resumed our friendly chat. The two ladies on duty at the LIAT counter were pleasant. They interacted with us and kept a smile on their faces while trying to keep us updated even when there was nothing to update. The crowd complained, but not in a rowdy way. It was very difficult for anyone to be unpleasant with the two women who were courteous throughout the evening.
At last, just when I was hoping for complimentary dinner, the LIAT agents announced that the flight was on the way, for the second or third time that evening. Finally, the plane arrived and after much ado, we boarded, though not exactly clear as to what was going to happen next. My Lucian friends seemed to be regulars of LIAT Flight delays. They assured me that LIAT would put us up at a luxurious hotel. I tried not to let my imagination run too wild, less I get what I did not want. But then again, I thought about the moldy leaky apartment that was awaiting me back home, and decided that nothing could be worse that that situation. With Joy in my heart, we departed the Cyril E. King Airport.
High in the sky, we passed the beautifully lit islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Quite a few travelers were from St. Kitts and as we flew over the island, I imagined how they must be feeling, being so close to home and yet unable to get there that night. The traveler, sitting beside me, sucked her teeth as the plane flew pass her island. The truth is, I was more concerned for them than myself. I really did not want to go home. After all, who would not be excited to spend an extra night away from the conditions I was currently living in?
Shortly afterwards, we landed at the beautiful Vere Bird International Airport in Antigua! It had been years since I touched down at this airport, so I was pleasantly surprised at how new and beautiful it looked! As we proceeded through customs, a young man led us and showed us where we needed to stand. After getting through immigration and custom’s area, we exited and found ourselves in a large open space where doors led outside. I stood within the open area along with those who were already there awaiting word of what LIAT planned to do with us that night.
Finally, the agent told us the bus would take us to Halcyon Heights Condominium where we will spend the night and return to the airport at 4 o’clock the next morning. By now, it was after eleven pm and any place to sleep sounded fine, as long as it had a warm bed and was not roach infested. As I sat there waiting for the driver and the men to finish loading the bus, I could not help but overhear a few of my fellow passengers; they were complaining about the place we were to spend the night.
I was a bit curious, wanting to know how they could know the place when all of us were visitors from other islands. It was not long before I learned that my frequent flyer friends had been on similar escapades with LIAT, which had ended with them sleeping at the same hotel. I started to pray that what they were saying was not true. I imagined myself given a room in one of the corners of this sprawling building, with no one to come to my rescue if a wandering roach attacked me. I shuddered at the thought of roaches, as I recalled my last encounter with an American roach. The one that my daughter took for a bird and my sister had to kill!
As we traveled, on the roughly 25 minute’s journey, the moon followed us. I thought to myself, what a fitting night for a nightmare. Then all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys’ books came back to me. I also reflected on the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn! I zapped back to earth from those wild fantasies. I began joining in the laughter from my fellow travelers, and teased them about their previous stays.
We arrived at Halcyon Heights Condominium within 25 minutes. I must say that the appearance of the place took me by surprise. I had imagined the worse, only to see something far more pleasing to the eye. It was night though, so I could not see all the back rooms that my newly found friends lamented about on our journey. I made sure that when it came my turn to collect a room key, I asked for a room nearby. I told the receptionist that I was afraid of sleeping far away and that the two Lucians were my bodyguards and needed to have rooms next to mine, just in case.
With smiles on our faces and a healthy snack of sandwich and apples, we went up a short flight of stairs. I can sense the relief in the voices of my two friends. They had started to argue with the receptionist about the unfairness of having to sleep in the back rooms, just because they were men: hence, the reason for the bodyguard story!
After inspecting each other’s rooms, I said good night, or rather, good morning to my friends. My room was spacious with nicely crafted furnishings. There were clean towels and toiletries. The air-conditioning was working fine and the bed looked inviting. I checked the closet, not a single roach was in sight.
Finally, I lay down for the night. I tried setting my phone’s alarm, but the old thing was not being agreeable and I was too tired to fight with it. It seemed like just 30 minutes had passed before I heard the loud ringing of the telephone! At first, I thought it was a dream, but then my foggy brain began to function. Omg! I looked at the time and it was three thirty! The bus was supposed to be here at four!
I opened the door and dashed across the hall, knocking on my friends’ doors, then frantically ran into the bathroom. I took a record shower of maybe two minutes, maybe three…four the most!
Everything I needed to use was on the table, as I had anticipated I would need to make a mad rush to get ready. Dressing was no hard task. I must have made another record, as I managed to get ready with five minutes to spare. I locked the door and went to the reception area.
One of my friends was already at the beautiful waiting area, but the other was still missing in action. I wondered if he had slept through my knock on his door. I smiled to myself as I wondered whether it was such a great idea to help him get a room near the entrance. I was certain that he would have been up if he was placed in the far away backrooms, which he had complained about last night. Finally, he appeared, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was just about to head back upstairs to call him. He had overslept!
The bus was late, but we did not worry too much. We said goodbye to our friends from St. Kitts and Nevis. They were up and talking among themselves, making sure that they were not travelling out with us. I left Halcyon Heights with a mixture of sadness and joy. One part of me wanted to stay and sleep a little longer. However, another part of me knew that once my newly self-appointed bodyguards were gone that I would hightail it out of there!
The weather was beautiful this time of morning. A few stars were still twinkling and the well-lighted Christmas decorations created a pleasant atmosphere. We arrived at the airport shortly afterwards and proceeded to check-in; everything went smoothly as LIAT had already rescheduled our departures.
Reality was slowly setting in, and I was unwilling to face my day ahead. LIAT had unknowingly added to the excitement of my journey. I would much rather be on a delayed flight, than back in the moldy apartment, which my Landlord and Landlady refused to address. I know this may sound strange to you, but the only thing I regret is not having the opportunity to stay at Halcyon Heights a little longer. Once again, thank you for saving me LIAT and for your hospitality.