The Islander: Volume 3

26 Mar

Mark Twain once said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.  If I may, I’d like to add one other item to that list.  The day you commit to a barber.  Short of marriage, this is the biggest commitment that a man will make in his life.  I know you women are laughing, but would you let any and every hair dresser near your mane?  Thanks.  With hair, there’s so much that can go wrong.  Will they cut too much off?  Will he take my hair line back to the seventies?

Every man has had at least one horror story involving a barber who’s totally destroyed a his life.  Since 1987, I’ve had four barbers.  There was that one time that my dad cut my hair.  Emphasis on one time.  Also right after he cut it, I had to go to my cousin to rectify the situation.  As luck would have it (and subsequently my lack thereof), I had to go to school the next day prior to my cousin fixing my hair.  Social suicide.  Thank God memes and smart phones weren’t invented yet.

old-man-haircut

No kids were hurt in this recreation of my haircut.  We can’t say the same for his hairline.

Be that as it may, it had been two weeks since my last hair cut and the situation was getting a wee bit hairy.  See what I did there?  After asking around, I chose a barber that wasn’t too far from my apartment.  I’ll admit I was nervous.  The fact that there was no one in the barber shop did little to assuage my thoughts.  Was it just slow and people were busy or was he Edward Scissorhand’s less talented cousin?  I prayed.  Twenty gut wrenching moments later that involved mental cataloging of all of the hats I had brought with me, things were over.  I nervously looked in the mirror and well, all had went well.

And to think, it was only Monday.  On Tuesday or Wednesday, I went back into my favorite neighborhood grocery store and I have to admit, I’m getting better at this whole grocery shopping thing if I do say so myself.  I even signed up for one of those grocery store cards where you can earn points on all of your purchases.  Why I was excited about this, I’ll never know.  With my average bill being right around the national deficit, I figure in about a month and a half I can use my points to buy the store itself.  Then, free groceries for life.

Photo Mar 26, 12 50 26 PM

“Well if I can’t have free groceries, can I get Aisles 1 & 2?”

The rest of the week went relatively well until Murphy decided to rear his head.    I started getting what I determined to be the flu on Thursday and well, it’s been pretty downhill from there.  I’m actually writing this from bed. What’s annoying is just the general lack of energy that I have.  The body aches, you feel warm and cold at the same time, watery eyes, the congestion.  I imagine this is what Drake feels like when another stripper breaks his heart after he tried so hard to change them.  But you know.  More Life or whatever.  I really had high hopes for this weekend as I was planning to visit one of the other cays via the ferry but clearly, my body had other plans.  In any event, I’m hoping that I can make it this coming weekend barring any further interruptions from my friend Murph.  With 887 days to go, I’m sure he’ll find his way back into my life before then.

Life’s a beach.  Enjoy the wave.

 

 

The Islander: Volume 2

20 Mar

I had heard the stories.  The complaints.  People from near and far, offering different accounts but the underlying theme remained.   Is this how my mother feels when she walks out I thought?

Rewind to last week.  I had only recently just moved to Marsh Harbour and still had not yet gotten the keys to my apartment.  Not only was I scheduled to move into my new place on Tuesday, but Jhené was slated to arrive at 10AM.  I hadn’t seen her in about a week and I was beginning to get anxious.  Did she look the same?

I went to the dock at 11AM to pick her up.  I was late.  When I saw her though, I was elated. She was a bit salty (probably because I was late and the fact that she had just taken an overnight trip on a boat) but she lit right up.

Hyundai-Sonata-2013-White-Sedan-Limited-Gasoline-4-Cylinders-Front-Wheel-Drive-6-Speed-Automatic-76234-3

Who did you think Jhene was?

Later on that afternoon, I got the keys to my apartment and here is where the fun started.  I decided that I had to go into the local grocery store to collect a few items .  Now I picked up a fair amount of things the usuals, trash bags, hangars, bread etc.  The bare necessities if you will.  When I got to the cash register to pay is when I damn near fainted.  I’m not going to tell you how much I spent.  Just know that it exceeded some countries defense budgets.  I have a new appreciation for my mom and her grocery store rants.  (Mom I appreciated it then as well…no need to lecture me about that later.)

After getting swindled out of my life savings, later on in the week I got the opportunity to see Treasure Cay for the first time.  After leaving my place and heading north for about 30 mins, one would happen upon Treasure Cay.  Treasure Cay to put it mildly is well, gorgeous.  Uninterrupted beach extends for what seems like miles, the waters are 50 shades of turquoise and blue, and the houses are straight out of MTV’s Cribs.  Don’t just take my word for it though, have a look for yourself.

IMG_5004

Not a cloud in the sky.

See.  Told you.  It was really nice to just be on the beach with my thoughts, if only for a little while.  I’m settling in nicely for the most part however, there are still some things that I’m getting accustomed to.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s not the city life and that the same amenities don’t apply here.  For example, everything is closed on Sunday bar one or two places.  All in all, Abaco is turning out to be an extremely beautiful place and with another 893 days to go, I plan to venture out and see all of it.  Life’s a beach.  Enjoy the waves.

 

 

The Islander

12 Mar
IMG_4933

On my way!

The last time I was here (and actually left the airport), I was a goofy eleven year old here on a sixth grade class trip to Camp Abaco.  I vaguely remember the trip but funnily enough, while I was packing to move here 18 years later, I found those very photos.  To show you how long ago it was, I remember using one of those disposable Kodak cameras that you had to wind up.  Be that as it may, it’s funny how life has a way of coming full circle.  To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been right?  For those of you that don’t know, I took up a great opportunity to assist with a project here at the airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

I’ve been anticipating this move for the last few months for a a variety of different reasons (outside of the obvious ones such as family, friends etc.) but mainly because life in Marsh Harbour occurs at a much slower pace when compared to Nassau.   Now I’m sure some of you from the more developed countries are saying something along the lines of, ‘it’s an island…they’re all slow’.  And to some degree, you’d be right, but let me be the first to assure you, they are two completely different animals.

IMG_4942

Sunrise from my Hotel

Take for instance, the population of the two islands.  Nassau, even though only 21 miles long and 7 miles wide houses just about 70% of the entire population of the Bahamas.  Despite being much larger than Nassau, Abaco’s population is just over 17,000, with about 6,283 of those persons residing in Marsh Harbour.  Well, 6,284.  With such a small population, it helps to explain why the island only has one operable traffic light.  See what I meant about it being much slower?  Who says you don’t learn things from my posts?

Be that as it may, since I’ve been here, everyone has been extremely welcoming.  With any small town, people notice when someone new is in town.  On several occasions, people have come up to me and started a conversation.  Even the police have noticed.  Unbeknownst to me, my rental car didn’t have a front license plate.  Unfortunately, the police noticed this before I did.  Luckily, I didn’t get a ticket and needless to say, I promptly went back and got another rental.  Not exactly my best first impression.  Speaking of first impressions, on my second day here, I also realized that while I had decided to move here, my deodorant decided that it liked the setup in Nassau more.  Apparently Murphy and his laws decided to join me on my trip. Thank God for the hotel gift shop.

Despite those minor setbacks, things have been enjoyable in my first six days.  Marsh Harbour has a true old island feel with a fair amount of city amenities giving the best of both worlds.  The local cuisine has been amazing and because of their locations on the island, the views have been to die for as well.  With an area of just under 650 miles and tons of adjoining cays (Elbow Cay, Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Noname Cay (where you can feed the pigs from piggyville)…just to name a few) there’s lots of exploring for one to do on the weekends and I intend to do just that.

IMG_4977

In Marsh Harbour, your food comes with a view!

So for the next 902 days (give or take…yes I calculated it) while I’ll be residing here, I’ll be working, exploring and blogging.  My intent is to provide you guys with at least weekly content (and I’ll do my best to hold myself accountable) so that you can see how well (or not well) I’m adjusting to island life.  Maybe by the end of it, the Nassuvian may very well become an Abaconian.  Time will tell.

Until then, life’s a beach.  Enjoy the waves.

Travel Series: The Stingray That Got Away

13 Sep

img_0006

Those who know me, know of my love of travel.  I’ve been fortunate to travel and see some of the most beautiful countries  and sights in the world, which has led to some interesting stories to say the least.  However I have realized that in my quest to visit new places, I’ve overlooked visiting my own beautiful country.  So when the opportunity to visit the Exumas on a powerboat presented itself late last October,  how could I say no?

So just sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.  That started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship!  The mate was a mighty sailing man, The skipper brave and sure.  4 passengers set sail that day for a 8 hour tour….a 8 hour tour.

You didn’t think I would write a whole blog about going out on the ocean and not make a Gilligan reference did you?  Rewind to last October when I had three friends visiting from Trinidad.  They were here for just about a week and we happened upon Powerboat Adventures.  For the uninitiated, the powerboat takes you from Nassau down the Exuma chain, to their private island also known as Ship Channel Cay.  Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to feed the iguanas, stingrays, and view a shark feeding….oh my.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  It’s almost October again.  Where is he going with this late ass blog post?  Well, timing isn’t always everything and besides, I’m a nostalgic writer.  I’ve always believed that life is best understood in the rearview mirror.  On top of which, it provides me the opportunity to take in everything and provide better content to you, the reader.  So long story short, stop being so selfish!

DCIM102GOPRO

Left to Right: Parched (Arun), Tirse (Me), Dehydrated (Abas), Arid (Lynda)

Now here’s the thing.  In the days leading up to the trip, I had my apprehensions about this whole stingray feeding thing.  I assume at some point in every young man’s life, he has to do some shit that probably isn’t in his best interest.  But…well…peer pressure.  That being said, I wasn’t the most excited about feeding stingrays.  Why?  Two words.  Steve. Irwin.  A man who wrestled crocodiles for a living, died by the hands/wings whatever the hell you want to call them, of a sting ray.  And yeah, I know.  Stingray deaths are rare, they rarely attack…yada yadda y’all could miss me with that.  Typically, my idea of living dangerously is letting the person making my sandwich at Subway choose my bread for me.  Raises the hair on the back of my neck every time.  In the spirit of adventure (more so not wanting to look like a bitch in front of company), I chose to put my fears aside.  This would come back to bite me in the proverbial ass, but more on this later.

DCIM102GOPRO

On our way!

The day started off easily enough.  We arrived at the boat fairly early and were immediately met by the crew and our fellow passengers.  We were informed that the trip would be approximately 45 minutes where we would first stop and feed the iguanas, and then continue on to Ship Channel Cay.  The views on the way down to the Exumas are awe inspiring to say the least.  Outside of a few gallons of Ocean spray nearly drowning Arun, we made it.

So the ship anchored on the shore of this unchartered desert isle, with Jon, Arun too, Abas…and his wife (Lynda), a local movie star, a professor and a lady named Mary Ann.  I’m really trying to get through the whole theme song.  On this island, we met the Iguanas and fed them grapes.  Apparently, they have poor eyesight so all ladies with red nail polish were warned to keep their toes (if they had nail polish on) embedded in the sand…lest the iguana think that your toe was a grape and well…I’m sure you can figure out where this was headed.  Lynda didn’t seem amused.  After a short while, it was time to mount our chariot again and head toward Ship Channel Cay.

DCIM102GOPRO

After speeding and traversing the various cays, we arrived and disembarked.  What was interesting was that as soon as the boat arrived at the dock, so did the sting rays & sharks.  Yes.  Plural. They came in droves.  My heart sank a little.  God…knowing that I wasn’t particularly happy about what was to come next, provided liquid courage.

img_0005

Minutes before the impending doom.

Before I knew it, they were asking everyone to line up on the beach so that we could feed the stingrays.  Here’s the scenario.  We were all kneeling down next to each other (about 20 of us) in about waist level water.  In front of us was the Atlantic Ocean…with about 217 sharks, 72 sting rays and 319 different types of fish.  Behind us was the beach.  I didn’t like the fact that I only had one escape route but I figured, what was the worst that could happen?  I hate when I ask myself that question because I typically find out.

Well…apparently stingrays don’t have teeth.  At least that’s what our instructor said.  I googled it and apparently they do?  To be honest, I still don’t know what the truth is and  I’m conflicted but I tend to agree with google.  Apparently, they suck in their food and have extremely powerful suction.  Additionally, they have poor eyesight and float over their food and suck their food up.  We were given a few simple instructions.  1.  Don’t break the line.  2.  We were to gently hold a piece of fish between our index and middle fingers, and the sting ray would suck the food up.  Seems easy enough right?

And initially it was!  It was really cool feeling them swim right up against you and them sucking the fish up like a little water vacuum.  Then the instructor gave me a second piece of fish.  I should have stopped while I was ahead.  Maybe I held the fish too tight.  Maybe my fingers look like fish to stingrays underwater.  Hell if I know.  Whatever the reason was, as I was holding his/her lunch, my finger ended up in a stingray’s mouth.

Now here is why I think stingray’s have teeth.  As a child, for reasons I cannot explain, I’ve always stuck my finger into the vacuum.  Nothing provides a rush like thinking a vacuum is about to suck your finger off.  We’ve all done it.  It’s like singing in the fan and pretending to yodel.  If you haven’t done either of these, you’ve never lived.  At no time playing Russian Roulette with the fan however, did my finger ever bleed.  When this stingray sucked/bit my finger, it did.

img_0007

Minutes after my near brush with death.  Notice Stingray bite.  I also became the designated cup holder.

So, I did what any sensible person would do when faced with a life or death decision.  I ran like a bitch.  I was O-U-T.  Usain Bolt would have had a hard time keeping up with me.  I dove across the finish line like Shaunae Miller.  I broke the line…see Rule number 1.  Honestly, I could care less.  After a few moments of introspection,  I came to a startling revelation.  Here I am in waist high water, feeding a sting ray.  When was the last time, a sting ray was waist high in the sand feeding me?  I decided right then, that unless this island was on fire, or Rihanna was drowning and needed to be saved, I would waddle in the water for the remainder of the day with a drink in hand.

The shark feeding that followed was simply amazing.  The instructor who I think may not so secretly have a death wish, repeatedly threw out a line with bait on it and we got to watch the sharks eat.  They came in close proximity to the shore and by extension us. After my sting ray bite, which was still bleeding, I may as well had been in Nassau I was so far from the shore.  The amount of power these sharks exhibited was impressive.

img_0004

After this it was time to snorkel.  Two things.  The first thing the instructor asked, was can everyone swim.  It’s not that Arun can’t swim…it’s not that at all.  He just has a slight problem staying afloat.  In fact, if there was a competition for sinking…he’d be great at it. We all looked at him (even the people that we didn’t know looked at him) waiting for him to raise his hand, but that never came.  Call me crazy but when I have guests in town I like them to leave alive.  Weird I know.  Second thing was, I was still bleeding.  Anyone that has ever watched Jaws/Shark Week/Finding Nemo or any combination thereof, knows that Sharks in Africa can smell blood in the water in Pluto.  Nevertheless, I was assured that this would not attract sharks.  Oh I asked.  No need to tempt fate twice in one day.  So not only was I ensuring that Arun didn’t drown, but I was also looking around to make sure Jaws didn’t come and nibble on my finger too.  Great.

The reef off of Ship Channel Cay is home to some of the best marine life I’ve ever seen. Granted, I’ve only snorkeled about 4 times.  But it was a very active reef, with exotic fish, sting rays and sharks.  While Abas, Lynda and I enjoyed the sights, we also checked back every now and again to ensure Arun was still buoyant.

After a great lunch overlooking the ocean, and quite possibly the best conch salad I’ve ever had in my life, it was time to head back to Nassau.  Not before running amok and finding random things to do on the island.  If you haven’t, you should definitely check out the PowerBoat Adventures.  Definitely worth the cost and they have a great, informative crew that takes care of your every need.  Won’t be the last time that I go but next time, I’ll wear gloves.  Check out the video mashup from the rest of their trip.

S U I T S

15 May

IMG_1135

May 15th, 2016 is the date.  It’s been one week exactly.  Since then, life hasn’t been the same.  You see, this past weekend, Nassau was home to the second installment of Junkanoo Carnival.  For the uninitiated, Junkanoo Carnival is the marriage of local Bahamian Junkanoo, and Carnival which is held in various islands throughout the Caribbean.  Personally, I believe that the two events should remain separate but we can argue that point later.  In my eyes,  the highlight of this weekend was never going to be the road march, but rather, a small event happening on Mother’s Day.  And it was the mother of all events.  You see what I did there?  The play on words?  Nifty right?

In the months leading up to Junkanoo Carnival, my feelings toward it could best be described as “meh”.  Maybe it was gas.  Maybe it was the fact that I recently returned from Trinidad Carnival and knew that replicating the epicness that was this year’s carnival would be impossible.  Maybe it was the fact that the powers at be decided that Wyclef Jean and Destra Garcia should headline this year’s concert.  Let’s put some perspec on it. Wyclef has never written, produced, sang, or remixed one soca song in his entire life (that I know of anyways). Destra on the other hand is a soca artiste, but 99.9586 carry the three % percent of Bahamians only know her hit song Lucy.  Never mind the fact that she’s in the country every other week performing anyways.  Never mind the fact that 89.2% of you can’t name more than four of her songs since 2013.  Don’t worry.  I’ll wait.  I just felt like they could have given some other artists a chance.  But I digress.  Whether it was one of those items, or some ghastly combination of the three, whatever it was, I wasn’t excited.

giphy-facebook_s

Real recognize real.  Gilligan knows how I felt.

I felt that way right up until I had a conversation with one of my friends.  Enter Crista. Friend, blogger and feteran. *insert shameless plug* – www.bahamianista.com – do i need to tell you to follow her as well?  We were comparing parties and she told me that she had already purchased tickets for Suits.  How could I forget?!  This party encompassed everything that I love.   Boats ✓, Day drinking ✓✓,  and you guessed it, Day drinking on boats ✓✓✓.  I had heard marvelous things about the party from the prior year from both local and international partygoers.  There would be no such misfortunes this year.  My ticket was booked immediately.

qpkdzt3x44wy4

Me after getting my ticket.

While I was elated, the feeling wasn’t mutual amongst my friends when they were prompted to tag along.  The common complaints went a little something like this. “It’s Mother’s Day.” “My mother would kill me.” “I have work the next day.” “I was going to watch/listen to Lemonade that day while reorganizing my closet and wrap the coins on my dresser.”  I was over it.  But as the date drew near, each of them came to their senses and bought their tickets.

The week before the party, is when things got interesting.  The party was already labeled to be a cooler fete on a boat.  A cooler fete is a party where party goers bring their own coolers  full of libations.  They’re typically on land so I was already a bit curious to see how it would play out on a boat, but here is where things got interesting.  A notification from Facebook pops up on my phone.  It’s SUITS, telling me that not only is it a cooler fete, on a boat, but it’s a jouvert cooler fete…on a boat.  This was exotic, this was ambitious, this was…unheard of.  Before I could message Crista, she messaged me.  While I don’t remember the  exact conversation, I’m fairly certain it went something like “Bey you see this shit?”.  We had so many questions.  Would they be able to pull it off?  When is Bahamar going to open?  What were we going to wear?  One thing was for certain though, there was an unmistakable buzz surrounding this party now.  The question was, would they be able to live up to the hype?

13087913_995471523868816_4083348167397289362_n

The post that changed the world.

The day had finally arrived.  I didn’t want to miss a beat.  With my cooler and crew intact, we came to party like Dyson Knight (another shameless plug).  First impressions were positive.  Prior to entering a party in Nassau, I always take a glance around to figure out what kind of day/night I’m in for.  Will I need first aid?  Luckily, I believe the party hit the perfect medium in terms of price point and dates.    While half of Nassau was out treating their mothers to Poop Deck or some buffet over to Atlantis, here we were.  The chosen ones.  I was pleasantly surprised to see such an eclectic crowd. If I had to hazard a guess and break it down into percentages, it was the perfect mix of 48% stushness, 50% alcoholics, and 2% junglass (not your over the hill junglass girls mind you, more so the private school ones who just know how to have fun).  The percentages were forever in my favor.

Once  onboard the SeaWind, everyone congregated under the covered section of the boat.  Why?   Because to take a line from Kerwin Du Bois, the sun here in Nassau is “too real, it’s dangerous.”  And I’m dark enough as it is, so let me hold on to this colour for at least another few weeks.  Summer is near.  The vibes were instantaneous.  As the drinks began to flow, the DJ had everyone rocking to the conscious tunes.  The calm before the storm if you will.  As we left the harbour, the congregation shifted to the open area.  What happens next, is what dreams are made of.

DCIM104GOPRO

Now for my seasoned partiers, I’m sure while your reveling/feting/partying you experience a paradigm shift.  For me, this occurs for me when I’ve had x number of drinks (varies based on wind direction, atmospheric pressure and how much food I’ve eaten) and my inhibitions basically get tossed out to sea.  It just so happened that I was on a boat so this happened a lot faster than I anticipated although, the three Kalik Light Platinum beers that I consumed in the parking lot (in a 15 minute window) before getting on the boat might have had something to do with it.

All of a sudden the soca music began to flow like honey.  Nuphoric out of Trinidad was the hype man and he set the tone.  Bags of powder rained down from the sky.  No it was not some weird weather phenomena that Basil Dean neglected to inform us about, (although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was) they were throwing bags of powder off the top of the water truck.  I was lucky enough to get hit in the head and have one explode in my face.  The water truck begin to shower us as well.  As we sailed around the harbour, one thing was vitally clear.  This wasn’t just a party, it was an experience.  Strangers suddenly became friends.  Drinks flowed like the Euphrates.  Girls didn’t care who was wining on them, as long as they had someone to wine on.  I felt a tear developing, this was beautiful.  But don’t just take my word for it, have a look for yourself.

(Editorial Note: So happy that the video actually uploaded, it took longer than the McDonald’s staff in Oakes Field.  That’s not a diss.  Perfection takes time.  Also this is the first time I’ve tried making a movie, so don’t expect it to be some Cristopher Nolan masterpiece.)

As the sun set and we made our way back to the harbour, I couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone.  I refused to believe that it was over.  It couldn’t be!  Denial.  Outrage. Bey we park far bey!  These are all the things I thought immediately following. This may be a bit far fetched, but having partied in Trinidad, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale in the preceding months and years, this may have been the best party I’ve ever been to in my adult life.  There.  I said it.  Feel free to debate with me in the comments section.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  Next year one thing is for certain, I een’ missing it! (That’s it.  Final plug.  Support your local artists!)

 

 

My Life: A Series of Unfortunate Events

10 Feb

charlie-brown-rain

To borrow a line from singer Bobby Caldwell, “I guess you’ve wondered where I’ve been?”  It’s been a while, and to be honest, I’ve missed you guys…all 9 of you.  Oh, while we’re on the topic of Bobby Caldwell (his major song was What You Won’t Do For Love – ) and since we’re in February (also known as Black History Month), I’m going to drop some knowledge on you guys right quick.  He’s not black.  Just let that sink in for a minute and don’t worry, I’ll wait while you google his name and search images.  Yep.  I had the same face.  Where did he get all that soul from?!  My guess is he had a black lover.  In any event, it’s time to move on…and yes, when you google his name again later, he’ll still be white.  This is the only time I’ve ever thought Google made a mistake.

Now then, let’s cut to the chase shall we?  So by now you’re probably asking yourself, what’s the reason for the title….and is Bobby Caldwell really white??  First and foremost, the answer to the latter is yes. As for the former, I’m starting to believe I’m bad luck.  We all know Murphy’s Law, Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and this becomes increasingly true when I’m present.  Initially, I didn’t believe this and chalked it up to coincidence.  That was until one day, the CEO of the company made a comment.  “Jonathan, I hope we don’t have any emergencies today!” she said.  “Why would we?” I retorted.  “You’re to work, every time you come to work something bad happens.” after which, she began to list a series of events.  I was the common denominator in all of them.

Now for the last 27 years, I’ve had my fair share of, well interesting stories but to be called a jinx, well, I wasn’t going to have it.  That is until my most recent trip this past week.  I headed out to San Jose, California for a conference.  My flights looked something like this: Depart Nassau, stop in Miami, stop in Chicago, arrive in San Jose.  On the return, Depart San Jose, stop in LA, stop in Miami, Arrive in Nassau.  Seems easy enough right?  Well, two days before my departure, I’m flipping through the channels when I see the headlines, “Chicago Braces For Massive Winter Snowstorm.” Hundreds of flights to be canceled, roads to be closed but luckily, the storm was to slam the area the day before my arrival.  The day of my flight, I checked my flights and everything was showing on time.  Ha! My flights were on time and smooth.  I laughed in Murphy’s face.  Jonathan – 1, Murphy – 0.

Welcome to Snowy Chicago!

Welcome to Snowy Chicago!

 

Well apparently, that wasn’t appreciated and he would have his sweet revenge.  On the morning of my flight, all my flights showed they were on time and I was looking forward to getting back home.  Especially since I had to be to work the next morning for 7AM.  I got to the airport at 8AM for my 10AM flight and then the fun began.  About 30 minutes before my flight, a message comes through on my phone saying that my flight was cancelled.  Perfect.  For those of you not seeing why this is a problem, this means I would have missed both my connection in L.A and in Miami and would not be back in Nassau that night.  This also meant I would have missed work the next morning.  After waiting for half an hour due to the long line, I went up to see the agent at the desk who informed me of my options: I could either take the red-eye to Miami later on that evening out of LA or if I could get to San Francisco, I could still get to Miami by 8:30PM, and make my 9:30PM flight to Nassau.  Obviously, it was clear which option I was leaning towards.  But of course, there was a catch…and I guess what fun would it be if there wasn’t one?  That flight left San Francisco at 12:10PM.  At this moment, it was 10:10AM and San Fran is an hour away.  They would arrange for me to take a shuttle down there but there was still lots to do. I still had to retrieve my checked bags, get on the bus, check-in my bag, clear security and get to my gate before 12:10PM.

Enter Kumar, the shuttle driver tasked with getting me to SFO before my flight left me.  At 10:22AM, Kumar and I set off for San Fran.  Kumar said it would be tight but as long as we didn’t hit traffic, I should get there in enough time.  As soon as we got on the highway, there was traffic.  Luckily this passed by pretty quickly and with God on our side, I got to San Fran by 10:55AM.  I ran to check-in and the agent took my passport and boarding ticket so that he could check my bags in.  He made a face.  I knew I was about to receive another blow.  So remember how the whole reason for me (Usain) bolting to San Francisco was so I could make my 9:30 flight out of Miami to Nassau?  Yeah this flight was delayed by an hour thus pushing our arrival time into Miami to 9:42PM.  12 minutes after my flight to Nassau was scheduled to depart.  Murphy was smiling slyly.  The agent told me that the airline would be putting me up in a hotel and that I would just need to see an agent upon landing in Miami.  Once I got on the airplane, in the back of my mind I was still hoping that I would make my connection…that was until the pilot got on the intercom and stated that due to a ground hold, it would be another half hour before we would be allowed to push back from the gate.  Murphy didn’t have time for me or my hope.  For those of you not keeping score, Murphy-5, Jonathan-1.

Waiting in San Francisco and watching all the other planes leave on time. :(

Waiting in San Francisco and watching all the other planes leave on time. 😦

Finally we were allowed to leave and after five hours and four minutes of flying, I was in Miami.  Local time: does it really matter?  It was after my flight left for Nassau.  I sauntered over to an agent who informed me that I wasn’t eligible for a hotel room.  Should I have been surprised?  I asked her to check again as the agent in San Francisco told me I would be, and a few minutes later, I was in luck.  Hotel voucher in hand, I made my way to my hotel and arrived just before or after (I don’t remember it was a long day) midnight.  My new flight was scheduled to leave for Nassau at 7:20AM which meant a wake up call of 4AM to be to the airport for 5AM.  Oh joy.

Apparently while I was sleeping, Miami decided to freeze over.  It was cold and I didn’t find this out until it was time to board the shuttle back to the airport.  I didn’t realize that my lack of wearing a sweater would become an issue until later.  I forged on and check-in was uneventful.  They called my flight for boarding and we walked out to the plane however we weren’t allowed to board.  Think 60 people outside of an airplane in the cold and that’s what this scene was like.  After ten minutes of sub-zero temperatures (really it was like 60 degrees but I didn’t have a sweater!), we were informed that maintenance was on-board the airplane and that we would have to return to the gate until they could rectify the issue.  I could only smile.  One lady asked me about my travels and after telling her of my plight, decided to tell me that it was my fault we were delayed now.  I cursed her under my breath and made a mental note to trip her down if the opportunity presented itself.  A few minutes later, we boarded and a quick 38 minutes later, I was in Nassau.  Tired, jet-lagged and an hour and a half late for work, but I had made it nonetheless.  With the time conversion, 24 hours earlier I was leaving to go to the airport in San Jose before my adventure began.  As time goes on, I’m learning to dance in the rain.  Murphy may have won the battle, but the war rages on.

Finally home.

Finally home.

The Grand Parent.

9 Sep

Grammy

 

South Beach, and no, not the one with drinks flowing like rivers, neon lights, and scantily clad dressed women…and men for that matter.  The one I refer to was like a second home to me because located here was my grandmother’s house, a place where you were sure to always get a great story and an even greater meal.  Her home was where I learned some of the finer things in life: the importance of having a relationship with God, treating people with respect, having integrity and dignity.  It was also a place I learned some of the not so fine things in life (but still equally as important) like how to drink hot tea without burning your mouth off…more on this at a later date.

For all intents and purposes, my grandmother was a strong woman.  She was independent, a stronghold in the church (a founding member), staunch with her views, but her most admiring quality was her generosity.  She didn’t need to know you, and in some cases, she didn’t particularly care to, but if you needed something & she was able to provide it, consider it yours.  She was the definition of selfless.

The last few months, it was hard to see her sick.  There was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.  Before I left to go to Houston, I went to visit her and we sat and talked for awhile, it was one of her better days.  As I was getting ready to leave, she squeezed my hand and told me she loved me, I reciprocated and told her, I’d see her when I got back, I’d only be gone for a short while.  I wouldn’t.  Had I known that would have been the last time I saw her, I would’ve stayed a little longer, but we are all well aware of hindsight and the issues it brings.  It’s surreal at times knowing that she isn’t here.

I’ve been struggling to find the right words to string together but I don’t know if I ever will find them.  Words are an injustice to the person my grandmother was.  Despite it all, I know that you’re in a greater place, I just wish I could’ve said goodbye.