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Catherine Fischer

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Life in St. Kitts [Aug. 30th, 2002|07:14 pm]
Catherine Fischer
August 16th, 2 AM. At least, 2 AM Pacific time. Too twitchy to sleep anymore; besides, the guy to my left has been elbowing me continuously for the last couple of hours while I dozed off and on, and I don’t think I can take the annoyance anymore. Reminds me of Kevin, when he can’t get settled – except it’s not, so it irritates me no end. I have to practically pop a vein getting my GIGANTIC backpack out from under the seat in front of me, which, of course, is reclined, and there isn’t even room for my elbows, the seats are so narrow (broad shoulders have DEFINITELY not been taken into account in the design, here), and THEN, when I just get the laptop ready to type this, it starts getting choppy – been smooth as glass the whole way. I’m listening to the Hawaiian channel on the AA sound system – it’s just a little surreal. I’ve got the 2 AM punchies, anyway. (What the hell IS this – the Hawaiian Macarena? For crying out loud!)

Oh, yeah. Boston. I remember Boston. The closest I ever came to dying in a plane. Also the closest I ever came to losing bladder control, for that matter, not associated with a UTI or painfully hard laughter. Big ass DC-10, settling onto that postage-stamp-sized runway (on landfill in the bay), and a crosswind hits us just as we touch down, blowing us sideways onto one wheel, veering toward the water. I watched the faces of my family resign themselves to death, and thought, “this is it, and I’m paralyzed and can’t even do anything.” Then a counter-breeze blew us back onto the landing gear and we did the gnarliest jet-braking I’ve yet experienced, and stopped, just like that. I think Sam started crying. Wonder what it’ll be like this time? We’ve got about 45 minutes to go, and I can see a blood-red dawn staining the silhouetted horizon on the other side of the plane.

Arrrrgh! I HATE middle seats! And of course, this is the one and only flight I’ve ever been on that WASN’T totally over-air-conditioned; had to do the limbo to try to take my socks off.

Uh oh. A medical situation was just announced by the captain, requesting any physicians among the passengers to please help at the rear of the plane. I saw two people walk back, so hopefully they’ll be able to fix up whoever is having the problem. I don’t think I’ve ever had THAT announced on a flight before. Hope they’re OK; lots of stewardesses running up and down the aisle. Sheesh.

Well. Not a bad Boston landing, considering the rain and all. Only bounced twice. The person with the medical emergency ended up getting help from a couple of doctors onboard, and the situation got handled. Had about half an hour between landing and getting on the plane to Puerto Rico – found some nice person to mail my letter to Dad for me, since the postal box was all the way down the hall, down the stairs, past the security checkpoint, etc. The morning sun, peeking under the rainclouds, was shocking pink. I swear that’s not a real color. Saw just about nothing of Boston, heard some funny accents, and up and away, out of US airspace.

Sandwiched between layers of grey for a while, then started breaking into surreal cloudscapes. Mirage castles, full reflections of themselves, tower over a sea so distant it is only a dull golden haze below. Oooh, look: little balled-up clouds like sweater pills. Cloud droliches. God, I’m tired.

The sky is brilliant space-blue above, now, and hazy grey below – hope it rains in St. Kitts, cooling things off. Or hope it clears entirely, if it’s going to be hot, anyways – St. Kitts is exquisite when the sky clears. I think I’m somewhere over the Bahamas. The stewardess made an announcement that there will be a $5 entertainment charge to watch the in-flight movie (The Count of Monte Cristo), even if one brought one’s own headset. Then the movie didn’t work. Ha ha. I wouldn’t have paid, just on general principle. Maybe I’ll try to sleep, now. Two hours to go until we land in Puerto Rico.

Back in Puerto Rico. Having slept for most of the last two hours, I feel better, though still groggy from not nearly enough sleep (and I know I’ll be hitting the fast pace once I arrive in St. Kitts). The Luis Munoz International Airport in San Juan appears nice on the inside – the usual airport fare: shops, mini-restaurantishes, restrooms… but trash collects in little eddies in the corners, and attendants just don’t seem to care. The restroom had no paper towels, and didn’t have the kind of air dryers that flip up, so I could dry my face after I washed it, so I dripped down the hall. Outside, the rainclouds, having drawn off while we landed (brilliant tropical sunshine, freshly-washed airport – looked clean and shiny and respectable), have gathered again and will soak us any time now, I’m sure. (If you don’t like the weather…) On the television overhanging the waiting area at gate 2 (I’ve another hour to wait until we board for St. Kitts), a man is advertising the hits of the 80s with an overlying staccato patter of rapid-fire Spanish. I remember when I stayed at the airport hotel here, on my way home in May, all of the TV stations were in Spanish – so was the TV guide – and most of the channels got a hazy, static-filled reception at best. I was too tired to read, but it was too early for me to sleep, and I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts, so I went out into the airport at bought two trashy novels – just the ticket.

Wow. Dark sky out there. One of these years, I’m going to have to explore Puerto Rico on my way down or back – maybe fly in the day before and stay a night. Would be a lot more fun with my Adventuring Partner here. Sigh. Most of the other passengers waiting for this flight are black, and very polite. Can tell I’m getting close to St. Kitts.

Just played a game of Shanghai – no muss, no fuss, OSX just opened classic mode, installed the turkey, and launched it. At last, an OS easy enough for me. ;) Made it all the way to the “you win” screen – got the tiger, which I always think of as the best (best stopping place, too), and the fortune said “your troubles will end soon”. Started crying. I guess I really am tired. Still, I’ve really been in limbo all these months – troubles ending soon immediately brought Mom’s end to mind. Had a hard time, the last time I talked to her on the phone, knowing that that could be the last time I hear her voice. It’s always the little things, with me. I’m too tired and worn to be thinking along these lines, right now. I think the stress is finally getting to me. No wonder my stomach is upset 24/7, these days. Oh well. If I can make it through these next few months, I guess I’ll have proven to myself that I can make it through anything – or just about. (But please, let’s not do this again, OK, Universe?)

The flight to St. Kitts was totally uneventful; I couldn’t keep my eyelids open. Flew over St. Thomas, St. Eustatius (called simply “Statia” by the locals), practically over Ross University (saw my car), right by my house (saw Leonie, my landlady, in the yard from the plane), touchdown. Michele Cardozo, patron saint of new students, met me at the airport – customs just waved me on through, having looked in my backpack. We ran a marathon afternoon of errands: driver’s license, car insurance, bank to deposit traveler’s checks, grocery store for supplies, home to drop off my luggage and my groceries, school to pick up my car, and finally home again, jiggety-jig. Spoke a long evening with Brian and Leonie – they invited me up for a Ting. (Ting is a local soft drink, here – kind of like a Sprite or 7Up, but tastier. Even the Coke is better here, on Sugar Island.) We’re in hurricane season (August and September), so Brian was on hurricane watch by the TV; discussed weather, my apartment, cats, plants, art supplies…it was a really pleasant visit. Home, ostensibly to bed; couldn’t leave all the boxes in the living room alone, so I unpacked them all. (I hate it when I get in one of those obsessive-compulsive moods.) Put magnets on the bottom of the shower curtain, so that it wouldn’t stick to me any more; ate the “chicken man” chicken I got on the way home. Finally showered and went to bed, air conditioning at full blast (ah, delicious cool).