So I’ve arrived in Barbados … but it was touch and go for a moment!
After an uneventful flight from Gatwick on British rather than Coconut Airways, I arrived at Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown yesterday afternoon around 4.15pm local time. Of course the plane was parked up a long distance from the terminal building which meant that by the time I reached the immigration hall I was just about done in. I still cannot walk long distances, and after an eight hour flight I was feeling not a little delicate in the back department …
The immigration queue wasn’t too bad and I was soon on my way to baggage reclaim. I’ve always maintained that baggage reclaim is that great leveller in travelling society. Whether you travel in First, Club or Cattle classes you meet your fellow passengers at the great merry-go-round that is the luggage carousel.
People stand about looking nonchalant, or at least trying to look nonchalant. Yet everyone knows that everyone else is thinking “Will my bag come out?”. Marion knows only too well that sinking sensation that comes over you as you begin to realise that however long you stand and stare that precious suitcase of yours ain’t gonna show. We never did discover where her bag went to instead of Stornoway last January, but fortunately she and her bag were reunited within 24 hours.
Here in Bridgetown however, the loss of a much-needed bag would have been rather more troublesome. But fortunately after waiting ages – easily half an hour of watching bags coming out of the black hole of Calcutta – thankfully mine appeared. Thank goodness I had the foresight yesterday to attach my silver ‘Land Rover’ baggage tag to it, for otherwise I should not have recognised my bag among the myriad other black pull-alongs.
Delighted to be restored to a full complement, I turned to head for the customs hall. I’d already filled out my declaration chit and had it safely stored in my shirt pocket ready to present to the officer on demand. I made for the green channel where I discovered that’s exactly what everyone else had already done and there I was at the back of an enormous queue. I shamelessly sidled up the side of this queue and inserted myself such that I was in front of about 75 people. And no one said a word!!!
The single customs officer (a jobs worth if ever I saw one) was taking the customs declarations from travellers from two different aircraft. Not one person did she challenge or question, just took the chit and added it to a growing wad of them in her left hand. And then it was my turn.
“Good afternoon,” said I. “Please remove your shorts sir” she replied. I looked at her with astonishment. “I beg your pardon?”
“Camouflage shorts are illegal in Barbados sir, you’ll have to remove them I’m afraid.”
“Oh!” I said, “well sure, no problem, but right here? You want me to remove them here and now?” I almost wished she’d said yes, but instead I was directed to the red channel and to declare my illegal shorts to a different officer. This I did, and I was marshalled into an inspection room by the second officer and was instructed to put something else on.
Fortunately I’d changed from jeans into my shorts on the flight, so it was an easy thing to do. The changeover was accomplished in two minutes and I was on my way again, out of the baggage hall and into … Barbados!
Philip and Derek were waiting for me by the wheelchairs. Fortunately they weren’t needed for me though if one had been offered by this time I think I should have accepted a ride. Troubles behind me, I started to enjoy my arrival and we walked to the car park, found the car and set off for home.
Along the way they told me that I was lucky indeed that my shorts had not been confiscated. Only two weeks ago Philip had been wearing camouflage pattern shoes of some description and had had it pointed out to him by someone that they were illegal. It appears that only the Barbadian army is allowed to wear anything camouflage pattern: future visitors please note!
We arrived at Prospect in the parish of St James just as the sun was setting in the west across the Caribbean Sea. Beautiful! A quick change out of jeans into shorts (plain green this time) and flipflops instead of trainers, and the boys led me down the garden path, passing the hot tub and very inviting swimming pool (both to be road tested today!) to the road. About a hundred yards beyond was the sea.
It was wonderful to take my flipflops off and walk on the coral sand and then into the gently lapping sea. We walked a couple of hundred yards along the beach to a lovely beachside bar where a scotch on the rocks (sacrilege!) was the order of the day.
We spent an enjoyable evening at the bar (with Italian restaurant). We had a table right on the edge of the beach, the sea no more than thirty feet away, fringed with palms and torch flares. After the long journey it truly felt like paradise, a veritable garden of eden.
We returned to Summerland Villa via the road and I was very pleased to get to bed at 1.30am GMT, 9.30pm AST and slept through the night.
Today is a new day. Agenda for the day: swimming pool, sunbathing, hot tub and dinner with a couple of Philip and Derek’s friends who, I am told, I will like very much.
Until next time …