Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Conclusion!" - The Bahamas Experience, Part VII

Saturday morning presented itself as a calmer and sunnier version of Friday. Following breakfast, P.O.D., fully suffering from the effects of his head cold, and I packed our beach gear – sunscreen, books, sunglasses – the usual accoutrement - and headed to breakfast and then to our “secret spot” at the Sheraton pool. It was wonderful. Warm sun and not as much wind. We read and sunned ourselves until lunchtime.

After lunch we had plotted our course to the Queen’s Staircase (we were told a “must see” for anyone staying in Nassau) and Fort Charlotte. Dinner was to be at Café Matisse, a very well-to-do restaurant. P.O.D. has an obsession with gnocchi and we were informed that the best gnocchi this side of Italy could be found here. Tonight was to be our final night and we wanted to share a romantic meal and cap this adventure off on a good note.

However, P.O.D. was miserable. He was wiped out from his virus and really just wanted to nap. I was restless and really just wanted to get out of the hotel. So, a mutual decision was made that he would sleep it off in the hotel room for the afternoon and I would find my own fun.

After tucking him in and heading downstairs. With $40 in my pocket, I headed to the two straw markets across the street and picked up a few locally handcrafted items and took a leisurely stroll through the area just across the road from our hotel. Glancing at my watch, I realized that I still had about 2 hours before I would return to the room. I was cautious about getting too far away from the safety of our hotel’s neighborhood, so I decided to head back to the hotel and try my luck with the “one-arm bandits”. Not one to gamble too much (I figured I had already done enough gambling on this trip, already)…I took and additional $40 out of my checking account via an ATM and determined that when it was gone….it was gone.

Now, you have to understand how I am about selecting a slot machine on which I play. I stalk the casino floor and wait until I feel a vibe coming from one of them that drags me in. This has only proven successful to me once or twice in my life, but I certainly had the time and I really didn’t want to lose $40 of my hard-earned cash. So I stalked. I had decided that a quarter machine was about as “rich” as I would go because I needed to make my 40 bucks last at least an hour or better. I preyed upon what seemed to be the weakest member of the slot machine pack and planted myself in front of my “victim”, a “Lucky 7’s” machine who “felt” like it was ready to hit.

I fed it a $20 bill. 80 credits and I was ready to begin. I learned some time ago that you always select “MAX BET”, which means you bet 3 quarters, or 75 cents. This way, if you hit a “pay line”, you get three times, or maximum, the payout.

I pushed “MAX BET”. I got a two credit pay out. Again. Another two credit pay out. Over and over, I pressed the “MAX BET” button. Sometimes it would pay a few credits, sometimes not. But I had a good feeling about this machine.

When my credit level was at 60, I hit. 1,000 credits - $250! I had only invested $5. I couldn’t believe it! I sat with a “cat who ate the canary” grin on my face while my credits added up, dinging steadily for the next couple of minutes. I looked around thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe I “hit”. I rarely ever win. And now I was watching my credit total adding up before my eyes.

I pressed “MAX BET” again. A few flirts with pay outs. I was not going to let my total get below 1,000. Then, at 1,020….I hit again. Another 1,000 credits! Then another 100 credits.

My total waxed and waned until I decided that at 2,144 credits (or $536), I was going to call it quits. My machine had given it up for me and I was grateful. I printed out my winnings receipt and took it to the pay out machine (like an ATM but the cash is "free" - what a brilliant idea!), a silly grin spread across my face the whole time. I had to count my cash two or three times so that it felt real. Five one-hundred dollar bills, a twenty, a ten, a five, and a one dollar bill. Take the original $20 investment out of the winnings and I had a total booty of $516 of winnings. My biggest “take” ever.

I took a walk, still dazed and confused but smiling like a complete "goob".

One hour and a half left before I wanted to return to the room. I enjoyed some time at the beach, reflecting on the past few days and years of my life, the sun warming my shoulders. Then I gathered myself up and took a slow, yet celebratory walk back to my hotel room, stopping for an ice cream at the hotel cafeteria. Rum Raisin….and it was so good.

Upon my return to the hotel room, P.O.D. and I celebrated my good fortune – a bit of my own legal piracy in the Bahamas. I handed over the winnings and told him to apply it toward our travel expenses – we had accrued a few more expenses than originally anticipated – and we readied ourselves for what would be a wonderful meal and a wonderful end to our “Bahamas Experience”.

Our trips home proved to be relatively uneventful and we were grateful for an experience which would not only test our mettle as a couple but it taught us that even though things did not go as planned, we were able to improvise and enjoy a few small joys along the way.

There is beauty and wonder in everything that happens to us – both the good and bad. Life doesn’t always go as planned but it is how you deal with the curve balls that prove who you are as a person. And it is often the little things like an unexpected dance, a good bottle of wine, a little windfall, gnocchi, or a dish of Rum Raisin ice cream that lets you know that…well….everything is going to be okay after all.

If you are willing to look long enough, a silver lining to each cloud will always present itself. Or maybe…..no matter how bad it gets…..you can always find a little ice cream.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Yo-Ho-Ho!" - The Bahamas Experience - Part VI

Friday morning, I awoke at 5 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. But we had left the curtains open so that we could wake up to our ocean view. From where I lay, when I opened my eyes, I was able to, over the course of the next hour, watch the sunrise over the ocean and observe a large cruise ship make its way across the horizon to the port at Nassau. At first, in the purple-y light of dawn, the ship looked like an island with everyone’s lights turned on. Then, I realized that it was moving. I have never seen an actual cruise ship, outside of those commercials where people are climbing rock walls and dancing with the captain.

Another cruise ship (in the daylight), bound for the port of Nassau...

This morning was all about “beach time”. Now, you have already learned that P.O.D. does not care for sunbathing, casinos, and wrist-band-wearing…all of which had found their way into our itinerary.

Sunbathing (for us) is tricky. I, against my skin’s better judgment, am a sun worshipper. He, is a self-described “pasty white guy who prefers shade and a good book” while on the beach.

Since P.O.D. had naughtily removed his wrist band (read about P.O.D.’s distaste for wrist bands in my 11/14/08 blog entry), I had to pick up two towels from the towel cabana, just adjacent to the pool construction zone – if you thought it was loud from 5 stories up…! We negotiated the beach front (preferring the beach atmosphere to that of a pool at the Sheraton) and surveyed the chaise lounge situation. We found a perfect spot: one chaise lounge chair in the sun and one, resting in the shade of a palm-frond-roofed permanent umbrella.

I think a weatherman would describe the beach climate as “Mostly cloudy with moments of sun and a gale-force wind blowing in from the ocean.” He would have been mostly accurate. The term, ‘gale force” is kind. As I lay in my chair, the sun darting in and out, I go from warm to cool, depending upon the relationship of clouds to sun. But, the continual battering of wind – begins to burn the inside of my nose and I can’t hardly stand it.

“Okay,” I announce to P.O.D. “We are going to find a windbreak!” He finally admits that he, too, is cold. We relent and venture over to the Sheraton. I am prepared to drop him like a hot potato if the wrist band police discover that he is sunning himself at the Sheraton pool without his Wyndham jewelry. We find the perfect cove behind a sculpted rock formation next to the pool. It is secluded and we rejoice that no one had the wherewithal to think to look for a spot to sun themselves away from the beach. There is no wind. There is a lounge chair in the sun and one in the shade of the rock. A single palm tree planted atop the rock formation floats above us and it is the only reminder that it is windy “up above”. Now, each time the clouds pass between me and the sun, it is a cool break from its sizzle upon my skin. Ahhhh.

My view from the chaise lounge in our "new" spot from The Sheraton Pool:

We decide that we will come back here tomorrow.

When the blue skies submit to more and more clouds, we head to the Sheraton, this time, for lunch. While we dine, a dense rainstorm quickly passes through, revealing blue skies behind. For the first time, we feel like we have a handle on this Bahamas thing.

We venture to downtown Nassau and tour through the Pirate Museum where we were greeted by a jolly, yet characteristically nasty pirate – no Johnny Depp, I assure you but he was darling - can pirates be darling?? We walked a few miles to a “locals” recommended restaurant called The Fish Fry where we ate fried conch fritters and I finally got a rum drink. While the atmosphere of the restaurant was flimsy, at best (P.O.D. noted that he could see daylight through the cracks in the ceiling – I wish he would stop studying the architecture!) the food was very good and we felt like we were getting a real taste of the local culture.

We catch a cab home and spend the rest of our Halloween in bed in our jammies by 8 p.m. watching, ironically, “Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest”. P.O.D. and are I are asleep by 10 p.m. P.O.D. is feeling the effects of his cold and I am feeling the effect of conch fritters and rum.

Saturday is another day….we are making plans to visit the Queen Staircase and a military fort – both of which have been recommended as “must sees” while in Nassau. We are also making plans to dine at Café Matisse, one of the top rated restaurants on the island. Saturday should be a fun day….or will it….?

Find out in the final installment of “The Bahamas Experience” on Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"What A Wonderful World" - The Bahamas Experience - Part V

Digga-digga-digga-digga-digga-digga, pound-pound-pound! Digga-digga-digga-digga-digga-pound-pound-pound! The melodious harmony of jack hammers and nail guns fill our hotel room and, despite the fact that we have our sliding glass door to the ocean shut (it is the windy season in the Bahamas, of course!!), it permeates our room with a continual reminder that we cannot use our hotel pool facilities.

We dump our luggage and head to lunch, then for a brisk walk. I use the word, “brisk” because the temperature in the shade, coupled with a constant 30 mile-an-hour wind gust blowing in from the ocean, feels like 65 degrees. We discover that the Sheraton pool is really not that far away and we also learn that, if we were ever to do this again (as if!), we will stay there, rather than at the Wyndham.

We return to the room. Exhausted, we nap until dinnertime. I awake to more tears, sorry that we have not only missed an important event of two important friends of ours, but sorry that I lugged two rolls of toilet paper (as instructed by Carol – “Don’t ask, just bring it!” was the description) and 20 pounds and half-a-suitcase-full of our fantastic Halloween costumes that we were going to wear to the Halloween party on Friday night with Carol and The Cap’n (we were going as dueling “Gorton’s Fishermen” – we had the best costumes, right down to the yellow protective gear and grey beards!).

Since we decided that we were going to stay on property (heck, we already had the wristbands!!), we opted for a restaurant called “The Black Angus”. Big juicy steaks and good wine could be the only thing that could console our sorrows at this point. We dress in our what-was-to-have-been our wedding finery and make our way to the second floor, where Jerry, the charming Bahaman waiter, informs us that, yes, indeed, the Black Angus does serve Maker’s Mark bourbon. “Well, Jerry,” exclaims P.O.D. with a smile. ‘You may have just made our trip!”

A couple of cocktails, a wonderful meal, including a great bottle of wine leads to P.O.D. taking me onto the dance floor of the little bar outside of the restaurant where we dance to two songs, one of which was a rendition of “What A Wonderful World”, which is one of my all-time favorite songs.

It occurs to me, while we are dancing, that P.O.D. and I have dated for right around 2 years and we have never danced a single dance together.

While there was no beach in sight and I never drank a single Rum Runner, I felt, for the first time, like I was in Paradise.

More “The Bahamas Experience” to come. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mathematically Eliminated - The Bahamas Experience, Part IV

(First, I want to take one minute to thank everyone for laughing along with me as I tell the story of this really unbelievable experience. Thanks for humoring me as I work through all of this. Writing about the trip has been theraputic and it has allowed me to put this all in perspective and laugh about it. We will get back to ice cream and optimism after my final blog entry on the Bahamas Experience - a few more posts yet! .....Thanks!)

Fortunately, my crying jag only lasted about 50 minutes, as the flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas, is mercilessly short.

Our trip through the immigration checkpoint is quick and festive thanks to the “Lou Ralls-esque” lounge singer and his three piece backup band who serenades us through the process with the smooth tones of Harry Belafonte’s “All Day, All Night, Mary Ann”. Were I not an emotional basket case, this would be charming. But, because I am a basket case, it annoys me to no end. I shift my weight from foot to foot, glancing at my watch every two or three minutes: 12:50, 12:52, 12:55…. “What is taking so long???”

The wedding is in 2 hours. I finally have made some peace with the fact that we will never make it to the event. But maybe we can make it in time for the reception. More tears. I can’t even look at P.O.D.

“All day, all night, Mary Ann! Down by the seaside sifting sand,” croons the singer. I am in travel h-e-double hockey-sticks. Finally, we pass the checkpoint and we race to the BahamasAir counter to see when the flight to Treasure Cay leaves. 4 p.m. Cost: $300 each. There are still seats available. P.O.D. and I exchange looks.

But it is not that simple. Through further investigation of the flight itinerary, it is discovered that the 4 p.m. flight will not land until 5:30 p.m. Once we get our luggage and hail a cab to the ferry dock, we will have missed the final ferry out to Green Turtle Cay. Additionally, in order to catch the 8 a.m. flight from Treasure Cay back to Nassau in time to catch our 10 a.m. flight from Nassau to Ft. Lauderdale in order to catch our 1:50 p.m. flight to Atlanta in order to catch our respective flights back to our respective homes, we will have to leave Treasure Cay before the last ferry leaves Green Turtle Cay on Saturday afternoon and stay in a hotel on Treasure Cay on Saturday night. (Feel free to re-read that last sentence about seven times…..you will eventually be able to do the math.) This will give us ONE night on Green Turtle Cay…and present more logistical decisions yet to be made. We are exhausted.

Time to regroup. We huddle in the terminal for a few minutes to discuss our options. P.O.D. makes the rounds to confirm that, indeed, only one airline flies to Treasure Cay and only one flight option is available to us. I continue to cry – this time because I know that this trip that we have been looking forward to for months has come to a premature and frustrating end. I am convinced that if I do not stop crying soon, that the Bahaman immigration officers will kick me out of the country because I am pretty sure that there is no crying allowed in paradise.

P.O.D. finally deduces that we are “mathematically eliminated” from making our final destination. As he so eloquently put it, “We were screwed yesterday morning – we just didn’t know it.” But here we were in Nassau, with nowhere to go until Sunday morning. We decide that it is time to “make lemonade”.

We make our way out to the terminal lobby, where high-end, all-inclusive hotel resorts are peddling their accommodations to arriving travelers who have made previous arrangements with them or, like us, have been “mathematically eliminated” from their final destinations, as well.

After determining that we need to get out of this with the highest level of comfort at the least amount of expense, I am able to negotiate with the handsome young man at the Wyndham Casino resort kiosk to give me the “rate you would give your sister”. He gives me an ocean-view room for a fraction of the ocean-view room cost. We are thrilled.

One short cab ride later, we arrive at a pleasant, but weary-looking casino hotel (there are only a handful of things that P.O.D. does not enjoy and gambling is one of them). At check-in, P.O.D. glances at the ceiling, “Is that mold?” I try not to look.

The check-in clerk does a double take on our room rate, which makes me smile at the young man who really must have come through on that “sister rate” on our hotel room. Then she asks us to put on resort wrist bands that we have to wear the entire time we are on the property. (Number two on P.O.D.’s list of things he doesn’t enjoy is wearing wrist bands – years in the trade show industry has given him an emotional allergic reaction to wearing anything that identifies him as a “participant” of something).

Turns out, the wrist bands are very important. It seems my “brother” at the casino kiosk back at the airport failed to tell me that the pool was being renovated at the Wyndham and the wristband gave us access to the pool at the Sheraton property, next door.

What we discovered about 10 minutes later was that the pool renovation was occurring 5 floors below our ocean-view balcony. For each day of our stay in paradise, we were serenaded by the sweet sounds of jack hammers and hammering a few hundred feet away. Which makes me wonder: did the woman at the check-in desk give a double take on the room rate or on the fact that any idiot would allow themselves to be booked in a hotel room overlooking a major renovation project during a hotel “off season”.

We will never know.

More to come in Tuesday’s blog…and be patient…..the ice cream and ‘eternal optimist” attitude will return once this all gets vented. I am feeling a little better already….

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Bahamas Geographical Lesson - The Bahamas Experience, Part III

The day is Thursday. Today is the day of Carol and The Cap’n’s wedding! P.O.D. and I wake up, thaw out (refer to the broken thermostat reference in my last blog entry), grab a good breakfast, and head to the airport. Our flight to the Bahamas is at 11:40 a.m.

So far, everything has run smoothly with the exception that our calls to the hotel where we have booked lodging on Green Turtle Cay have yet to be returned. Apparently the phone service to the hotel is unreliable. When it was possible for him to do so, P.O.D. has left two messages at the hotel, but no one has returned our phone call. Apparently, if you run a hotel in Green Turtle Cay, customer relations is not a requirement. We have already missed one night in our hotel and we want to make sure we are not charged for it.

Our main goal for today is to be able to manage an on-time flight departure, get to the ferry and get to the island. If all goes well, we should have one hour before our arrival time at Green Turtle Cay and the ceremony. We have checked our luggage (again!), maneuvered through security (again!), and wait at the gate (uh…you know the adverb!). Despite P.O.D.’s nagging head cold, we are in good spirits.

At 11:50 p.m. (see my previous comment regarding airline departure times and how they are interpreted by BahamasAir in last Friday’s blog), we board our much bigger and much more safe-looking airplane and, once again, begin to fill out our necessary immigration forms. We settle into our seats on our flight bound for Nassau on BahamasAir. I pick up the promotional Bahamas in-flight magazine and it hits me:

In order to get to Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, we need to take ONE MORE flight from Nassau to Treasure Cay island, where, we have, yet, to take the ferry that will take us to Green Turtle Cay.

I am sick. P.O.D. has begun to calmly read his book, unaware of the fact that I am about to lose my (until this moment) even-temperedness. I study the map closer. It all begins to make sense, now.

In my geographical naïveté, I realize that the Bahamas is not just one small set of islands, but a rather large and complicated system of island chains. Carol and The Cap’n were very clear in their initial booking instructions, but all of this material that they had sent to me in May had been filed away at my home, a thousand miles from where this airplane – bound for NASSAU! – is sitting. Once our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Treasure Cay on Vintage Props and Jets, Inc., had been cancelled, we just didn’t realize that we needed to book a flight to Nassau…THEN to Treasure Cay. I sit and stare at the map. I feel like a prize-fighter that has just been dealt the K.O. punch.

Here is a map, similar to the one I saw in the in-flight magazine....I have marked our route from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Nassau and the route we have YET to take to get to Green Turtle Cay (circled) off the coast of the th Abaco island chain....

I turn to P.O.D. I begin to cry. I am certain the Bahaman woman, a kindly-looking grandmother wearing two baseball caps stacked one on top of the other (what is that all about??) and a beautiful dolphin ring (she boarded the plane with a gi-normous bag of electronics that she purchased at Target) must have thought I was completely nuts. In fact, looking back at the situation on the plane, she never made eye contact with me once. She huddled up next to the window, hugging herself….maybe she was worried that her seatmate was crazy. I assure you, she was.

I croak out to P.O.D. that we still have another flight that we need to take. He, of course, cannot hear me as the engines are firing up and my speech, through tears, is largely incoherent. He places his book in his lap. “What are you saying?”

I dramatically point to the map on the in-flight magazine. “WE STILL HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER FLIGHT!!! WE ARE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE WEDDING!” More tears.

“No,” reassures P.O.D. “We are going to Nassau. We will just catch the ferry over to Green Turtle Cay.”

“Uh, no,” I say ‘with a tone in my voice’. Again, over-dramatic pointing to the map. “We land here,” I say, now speaking to P.O.D. like Barney the Dinosaur would explain to little Suzy in the “Barney Travels To The Bahamas” episode (there really is no episode of Barney explaining the geography of the Bahamas island chain….but if there was, I seriously wish I would have watched it!). “We still have to get to here (I say, in a patronizing tone, whilst pointing to the island of Treasure Cay), then we have to catch a cab to HERE (now, big pokes of the map with my finger, stabbing the place on the map where the ferry dock sits), THEN catch the FERRY TO GREEN TURTLE CAY (I shake the map in front of his face – “And the award for frantic, frustrated, and immature traveler, goes to……1SweetMama!”)!!! AND WE ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS TO DO THAT!!!!”

P.O.D. just stares at me. He is a very seasoned world traveler. A million-miler. A Crown Room regular. How something like this could have gone so completely wrong is baffling to him.

We want to blame each other but neither one of us do. We know better. This trip has been a string of small “clusters” from the moment we awoke 24 hours ago until this very painful moment. P.O.D. tells me not to panic. We will find out what we can do when we get to the airport. He smiles at me, even though I know that deep down, he must want to strangle me for dragging him all across the globe without a real clue as to how to get to our final destination. He is a good man.

I stare at the map for the duration of the flight. And cry.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Airplanes and Aggravations: The Bahamas Experience - Part II

So, here we are, three and a half hours before we were to settle into our seats on Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. on a flight to Treasure Cay in Abacos, Bahamas, and we find out....we have no flight.

By this time, it is almost 10 a.m. and we haven't had breakfast yet. We arm ourselves with the necessary paperwork, phones, and credit cards and head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. P.O.D. decides it is necessary for us to chat with The Cap'n (refer to Tuesday’s blog entry when The Cap’n and Carol are introduced) to get an airline recommendation: BahamasAir. A couple of phone calls are made and it is determined that we have booked passage to the Bahamas, leaving at 5:30 p.m. Because they are purchased “last-minute”, we pay a premium. No matter – we have overcome this obstacle and will only lose a few hours in Green Turtle Cay.

It is now about 10:30 and we are informed that the buffet at the restaurant is now closed. Reluctantly, the wait staff offers us menus, from which they will cook us some breakfast. P.O.D. orders green tea. After some searching and some time, the wait staff announces that they have no green tea - in fact....there seems to be no tea bags on the premises. Slightly irritated, P.O.D. simply orders hot water.

Now, note that due to the state of affairs at this time, the fact that there is no tea, P.O.D. is not feeling well, and I am emotional over all of it, breakfast is very quiet. Aside from my frantic phone calls to my credit card company, who cannot find a purchase to Vintage Props and Jets (when I know I paid for them on my card!), P.O.D. and I are not in the mood for chatting.

After a mediocre breakfast, it is decided that P.O.D. will go back to bed while I venture out to find some good cold medicine. I head downstairs, pay for three extra hours on our room for a late check out, hail a cab ("Robert" from Yugoslavia, now a U.S. citizen and a Democrat who thinks America is no longer the favored nation - it is China. He has voted already. He tells me his views on global politics as he tears out the puzzle page from the Miami Herald, folds it up, and places it in his car visor for safekeeping).

I negotiate a shrewd deal to have Robert provide me with round trip transportation to and from the local drugstore and wait for me for ONLY 2 minutes while I run in to purchase cough drops and cold medicine. We settle on $23 for the ride and the tip.....and the political advice.

Back at the hotel, I am able to medicate my groggy paramour, finally locate and settle my charge dispute to the failed airline and even "Google" the Press Release (in case I need the evidence) which details the company's closing and the fact that they laid off 40 employees (this was included in Tuesday's blog entry for your reading enjoyment).

A few hours later, P.O.D. and I head off to the airport and await our 5:30 p.m. flight. Everything is running fairly smoothly and our spirits are lifted. We were able to make arrangements with The Cap'n to have someone meet us at the ferry dock at 6:45 (because the last ferry from Treasure Cay sails at 5:30) to take us over to the island for those Rum Runners at the "Welcome Reception" which begins at 6 p.m. Now, all we have to do is get there.

If it were that simple.

At 6:00 p.m. (because Bahamans, I discovered, observe a posted departure time for an airplane as only a suggestion), we are finally directed to our airplane - a tiny and tired vessel who creates a bit of concern among its passengers as we climb the stairs to board it. We begin filling out the necessary paperwork (immigration papers which ask the specific reason why you are visiting the islands, where you are staying, and when you plan to remove your sorry self from the island) and, just as we are beginning to gain back our confidence that this trip may actually happen, the beautiful Bahaman airline attendant informs the passengers that the airplane is experiencing mechanical issues (really?? how unexpected!) and we will all be deplaned while the problem is being fixed.

P.O.D. and I exchange glances and head back to the terminal. We call the Cap'n and tell him to inform his contact that we will be late and we will call when we know an approximate arrival time. Carol tells us how sorry she is and insists that, if it becomes necessary, to pull the plug on our travels. They will miss us but they certainly understand. We assure her that we are going to be there. Then we wait.

And wait.

7:45 p.m. and we have heard nothing. The plane still sits in its parking place and there seems to be no real activity going on around it. We are told by the gate attendant that, while they apologize for the delay, we will be kept informed and, if necessary, most everyone can be rebooked onto the 8:40 p.m. flight. P.O.D. and I decide that we really don't want to have to cross an ocean from Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay at 10 o’clock at night so we opt to have our luggage pulled from the ailing plane and rebook out on the Thursday 11:30 a.m. flight.

Thursday is the day of Carol and The Cap'n's wedding. Timing will be tight but the wedding is at 3 p.m. and, if all goes well (um...like it has been going up to this point?), we should make it to Green Turtle Cay with about an hour to spare. Time for one Rum Runner.

Another night in Ft. Lauderdale. Of course, finding a hotel room proves a bit of a challenge, but we are able to secure a room at the Holiday Inn. By this time, we are frazzled and just want to relax with a good dinner at the hotel restaurant, a cocktail, and a good night’s sleep.

The hotel room is dingy, the thermostat is broken and the room temperature holds at a frigid 65 degrees, warming occasionally to a balmy 66 degrees. The hotel restaurant is out of our first menu choices and the bar just ran out of Maker’s Mark bourbon (see Tuesday’s blog entry).

That’s okay. We settle for our second food and beverage choices at the restaurant, pile on an extra blanket in the room and, with the assistance of Nyquil, P.O.D. is able to get a decent night’s sleep.

Do our weary travelers reach their destination in time for the wedding festivities? Will 1SweetMama ever sip a Rum Runner on a Bahaman Beach? Will P.O.D., despite his reassuring 1SweetMama that “Things could be worse,” finally realize that they just might?

Tune in on Tuesday for the next exciting installment of “The Bahamas Experience”!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Trust Your Gut - The Bahamas Experience - Part I

For a long time, I have heard people say, "Trust your gut". As I get older and find this statement to be more and more true, I have finally reached that singular moment in my life where I firmly and unequivocally believe that your gut is, in fact, a fortune teller. Listen to it. Never was there an experience that put this more into perspective than my trip last week to the Bahamas. You will be reading about this incredible experience as I capture every painful detail in a multi-part blog series. I am hoping that the recounting of this trip will be an entertaining and informational account for my readers while also serving as therapy for my soul.

Today is Tuesday and I returned from my trip at 1 a.m. on Monday. This was a trip I have been looking forward to since, roughly, April, when my good friends, Carol and The Cap’n (that is a nickname we gave him because his life, besides Carol, is boats) announced they were getting married and would celebrate their nuptials in Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas. This would be my first trip to the Bahamas, as well as the first trip for my friend, Mr. P.O.D. (You know him from previous blogs. If not, please refer to the post from 9/2/08). While POD does not, himself, favor beaches and intense tropical sun, the thought of a romantic getaway with a small group of good friends sounded intriguing.

So the planning begins.

Toward the end of June, we booked passage from our respective homes (I, in Iowa; he, in northern Kentucky), meeting up in Atlanta, where we would catch the Delta flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, arriving a little after midnight. We would land at a hotel there and hold up for the night. Sleep in. Get a good brunch and head to our 1 p.m. flight with Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. out of the Ft. Lauderdale airport bound for the island of Treasure Cay in the Bahamas, where we would hop the ferry to Green Turtle Cay and be sipping Rum Runners by 5 p.m., in time for Carol and the Cap’n’s Welcome Reception, which began at 6 p.m.

Easy peezey. Sounds great. But it was my gut, who, weeks before our departure date, began to put the brakes on my enthusiasm for this tropical getaway. I was beginning to have second thoughts about this trip. I was experiencing an inner conflict on celebrating with my great friends in a beautiful and remote island paradise while considering the needs of my travel companion – making certain he would be happy, given his feelings about boats, beaches, sun, and drinking during the daytime. Now, he was coming down with some kind of “bug”….throw in the total cost of this “little” excursion and you have a formula for mixed emotions.

Everything began to crumble on Tuesday night around 9 p.m. while I was giving myself a pedicure, speaking with my friend, Emma, on the phone. My gut was trying to tell me something.

I confessed to Emma that I just did not have a good feeling about this trip and, with each passing day, I had grown more and more anxious. Having just received news that P.O.D. was coming down with a nasty head cold, I was worried that this might dampen our fun. "Well, here is the deal," said Emma, a holistic life coach, artist, and yogis, "It is too late to cancel. It is going to be fun. You just need to relax and let it be." She was so connected with the Universe and her words were encouraging. “Besides,” she said, “you will come back with a great tan!”

She was right. It was silly for me to worry. P.O.D. reassured me that he was thrilled to be with Carol and The Cap’n and he would be able to settle in to a shady spot on the beach with a good book and he was just excited to be a part of the festivities and to be on vacation – with me.

I was able to get out of work cleanly on Tuesday afternoon. Tied up a few loose ends on the cell phone on my way to the airport. Turned up classic rock tunes on my radio and got into vacation mode. I was on my way to the Bahamas, baby!

My travels went smoothly. After landing in Atlanta, I checked in with the kids while I waited for P.O.D.’s plane to land. Once on the ground, he immediately set off to find a parodies shop in the airport for some Kleenex and cold medicine. Thirty minutes later, we clinked our cocktail glasses together at a little airport bar and toasted the beginning of a long-awaited and much anticipated adventure. I should have taken it as a sign that they had no Maker’s Mark bourbon (our favorite) at the bar. There was one bottle but we were told by the bartender that it was “for show” only.

Soon we boarded our plane to Ft. Lauderdale and landed, without a hitch, at the airport where we caught a shuttle to our hotel. While checking in, I mentioned to the desk clerk that we would like to find out at which terminal Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. was located. This way, in the morning, we could easily navigate to our final airline.

Nobody at the front desk could give us any information on the existence of Vintage Props and Jets.


“No problem,” I said to the desk clerk. “I have their phone number and a confirmation number for our flight tomorrow. I will just give them a call in the morning.”

We settled into bed. Awoke around 8 a.m. P.O.D’s cold had blossomed overnight and he was feeling a little rough. We showered and planned to go have breakfast before heading out. Our flight was at 1 p.m. This would still give us time to hit a drugstore to get more intense cold medicine and cough drops. Meanwhile, I called the number for Vintage Props and Jets, Inc. The number was no longer in service.

Even more curious.

After consulting the phone book, information, and calling the number for the airline (that was printed on our e-tickets) fifty times, P.O.D. finally made a call to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Florida Airport. The news was a big ol' blow to my gut, whose angst I had nearly calmed by this time: “That airline is out of business.”

Read the Press Release here.

(To be continued - Come back and visit my blog on Friday, November 7)