After getting up at the crack of dawn to drive three hours to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, we didn’t expect to be greeted with the news that Spirit Airline’s pilots had just gone on strike. All flights are canceled. It is 8:30 AM. We confirmed our reservations online the evening before and feel anger and disappointment. Because we are some of the first to arrive for our early morning flight, we get waited on right away and our money is promptly refunded. “Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience,” we are told and are offered no other assistance, just the suggestion that we try Bahama Air, located in the next terminal. Grabbing our bags, we look like elderly participants in TV’s “The Amazing Race” and get in line at Bahama Air. The best we can do is stand by for the next flight and hope our name is called knowing we are at the bottom of the list. Anxiously we wait while noticing all the families camping out around us trying to hold on to their vacations in paradise. Lap tops appear, phone calls are made and our little section looks like a command center. Few are giving up. After two hours, the roll call begins. Those who aren’t there to hear their name are crossed off the list. We all look at the lucky winners like it is a lottery. The official with the clip board tells Ron that he doesn’t think we have a chance. More names are called. And then, we unexpectedly hear ours. With applause, the family of five next to us gives us the thumbs up.
One leg of the trip is over as we sit in the Nassau Airport waiting on our 3:00 connecting flight to Cat Island, an out island less traveled to. With time to kill, we get out our books and read, cat nap and try to read again. We then feast on the sandwiches and apple slices I prepared the night before. The plane never shows up. “We’ll let you know,” is all we’re told. More reading. More people watching. More standing and stretching. It is 6:00 PM. The airline now charters an eight seat Cessna to take nine of us down island.
Assigned to seats by body weight, we are crammed in, elbows to knees touching and no air conditioning. Sweat pours down my face and I wish I had a small towel like the Bahamian woman next to me as she dabs her forehead. Baggage is tucked in around us. The local Anglican priest on the plane is praying. He looks worried.
I look back at Ron who is taking pictures of our discomfort while he reads the “Flight Safety Instructions.” Forty minutes later we land, but not at the airport we had booked. Cat Island has two landing strips and since we are staying closer to the north end, we wanted to land at Arthur’s Town. We are in New Bight, instead. “No Problem,” we are told. They simply put us and our bags in one of the passenger’s cars who was on our little “puddle jumper” of a plane. The priest gets in too and we are introduced to the island.
There is one paved road and we are on it. It runs close to the leeward side giving us a view of the emerald waters and the villages dotting the way. We listen to the driver and priest catch up on the news and goings on with their families and friends in a lyrical patois. Every so often, they would remember we were in the car and point out something of interest. After driving 25-30 miles and being on someone else’s island time, we had arrived at Sammy T’s, finally.