9/11 – We Remember

I originally wrote this on 9/11/01…

I, too, was stunned to hear the news this morning and continuing throughout the day.

It was just something unbelievable.  My husband and I were on a Land Rover 4X4 tour of the off-road areas of Barbados when we first got the news.

At first, when we got the very first news, around 9:30 am, I thought that it was some tale that the driver was weaving…and that there would be a punchline.  As the day wore on, more interest was on the radio than on the tour.  Some of the people in our Land Rover were from New York City and they were terrified for friends and family.

What an awful day in history this is, one of those that we’ll always remember where we were when we got the news.

Like the rest of you, I am stunned, absolutely shocked that this could happen, using our own planes, no less.  I cannot imagine the terror of the people on those planes, or in the World Trade Center…or the Pentagon.

The rest of the story:
The year of 911 my mom and my son had been with us for the first week. My son had to be back at college so on Sunday he shepherded my mom through the airport, customs and all and got her back home before he headed back to UMass/Amherst on Monday. Thank goodness they got back before the mayhem started!

On Tuesday we were out on a 4X4 from Island Safari with our favorite guide, Zario. Zario is a fun guy and and very knowledgeable about Barbados and world events. We were very happy to have him again because it was the “luck of the draw” which driver/guide we got.

I remember that morning being kind of stressed already – I was having trouble with one of my contacts and I was just grumpy.

Zario picked us up first, one of the benefits of staying at The Crane – everyone picks us first for everything and drops us off last. Then he picked up another couple from New York City who were staying at Bougainvillea.

The tour started off through the fields, down cliffs as usual. Zario had the radio on in the background. When we got to the first stop he told us that there was a “problem” in New York. That it seemed that a plane had hit a building. We thought that there was going to be a punch line somewhere. There wasn’t.

As the tour went on, the news got worse. The couple from NYC was very worried about relatives.

By the time we got to lunch and met up with the other 4x4s everyone had heard. We were in a little chattal house restaurant, the TV was on CNN and everyone was just watching in silence and horror. Usually this lunch is very festive and fun. Not a care in the world. Not today.

We left the New York people off at their hotel and went “home”. The TV was full of New York news, then Pentagon news. We know people who work at the Pentagon. The news just got worse as we went along.

We were basically stuck in Barbados.  Phones to the US didn’t work well, email was slow to non-existent, all we knew was what we got on CNN, incessantly.  My mother and son had been with us the week before and had just flown back the Saturday before.  I was so glad that they had gotten back home ok, then my son off to college.

We were supposed to fly home on the next Saturday, but if was iffy if that would happen since the airports were closed for the longest time.  We were flying into the DC area. The phone lines to the Barbados airport and to American Airlines were always busy.

Finally, we decided to give it a shot, packed up and went to the airport to see if we could fly out or not.  They could only guarantee the flight as far as Puerto Rico.

The San Juan airport was crowded with Americans trying to get home, flights being canceled due to closed airports, people sleeping all around the airport, using backpacks for pillows.  It was a very difficult time.

We did finally leave for home later that night.  This is what I wrote the next day…

I flew on American Airlines last night (9/14/2001).  We left Barbados on time but the connecting flight, originating out of Aruba was very late, and we waited for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After that flight had arrived though, we were all sitting around, hoping they’d board the plane soon.  All of a sudden, there was cheering in the hallway.  We turned to look – our pilot and crew were marching up the hallway with a huge American flag.  He stopped and talked to us.  He explained that the copilot would hang that flag outside his window as we taxied out of Puerto Rico and into Dulles.  The flag was making the rounds of American flights all over the country and that the yellow streamers hanging down were being signed by all the American crew members.  He posed for lots of pictures (I have some I’ll post later, when my eyes are less bleary!), then, as they were going to get the plane ready, he asked us in a loud voice if we were ready to fly to Washington and everyone cheered.

Along the way, he thanked us so much for having faith and flying (like we had any choice!).  The headphones for the movie and the drinks were all free on this flight!  He also told us that there were a lot of fighter planes in the Washington to NY corridor and not to be surprised if we were intercepted by one, who would just be making sure that we were “who we said we were”.  I thought that would be kind of neat to see, but I didn’t see them.  We arrived in Dulles (Washington, DC) with a jet fighter escort.  At the time, that sounded so comforting, but it turned out that they had been there to shoot us down, if we’d made any funny moves.

Then, when we arrived at the terminal, the captain said that we were back in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and got some more cheers.

It was a memorable flight for someone like me, who is terrified of flying under the best of circumstances.

 

Us, on 9/10. Who knew?

9/14, San Juan Puerto Rico:
After the crew marched down the hallway.

 

The captain, letting others have a chance to fly the flag.

This young woman lead us onto the plane.

MaryOUSAheart

Winding Down…

I haven’t made very many blog posts this time around because we haven’t done much except read, work, nap and a few dips into the pool.

Yesterday, we went out on a catamaran, though – the Cool Runnings III.

They picked us up at 8:15 am.  We were on time for once, but still the third of 3 couples going from The Crane.  We didn’t make any more pickups.  WooHoo!

So, we set off from the Careenage. This is an inlet into Bridgetown where several ships, boats and catamarans make berth. The “bridge” in Bridgetown is over the Careenage. There are two bridges now. The original is now a foot bridge with the newer, wider one for vehicles.

On any of these ships, they have an open bar and start off with yummy banana bread for a morning snack. After they clear the Careenage, they put up the sails and we’re off.

Tom on mobile – of course!

Our first stop of the morning was Payne’s Bay where Tom swam with the giant sea turtles.  A woman taking pictures was talking kind of snootily to someone that “In Hawaii they gave them flippers…”  I barged in and told her that they couldn’t have flippers at this stop because of the turtles but they would have them at the next.  “So?!?”  I told her the turtles were an endangered species and didn’t like being kicked in the head with flippers.  Sheesh!

Turtle at Payne’s Bay, Barbados

The second stop was Folkstone Marine Park. All these ships stop there because it’s home to a sunken barge. This creates a home for lots of marine life. I’m not very good at recognizing fish but I always know when I see a school of sergeant major fish.

School of fish, taken from the deck of Cool Runnings III

Our last stop was a swimming stop off Alley’s beach. During this stop, we had a typical Bajan tourist lunch. The main dishes in this are flying fish, barbecue chicken, peas’n’rice, green salad, potato salad, a lo-mein sort of dish and rolls. Sometimes a sweet coleslaw, macaroni pie or beef stew is added but not today. Today’s dessert was carrot cake with cream cheese. Just like at home!

I didn’t get in the water this time but that’s ok – I just love being on the boat.

Something new – just as we got back to the Careenage, the captain/crew started playing this and most everyone danced their way into port.  What fun!

Back home and into the pool.

The next post will be the one where I list what I’ve been reading on this trip.  It will be fewer books since I’ve been working more than usual…

They’re Baaack

It was Wednesday and we had breakfast at L’Azure, one of the restaurants here at The Crane.  I told Tom I couldn’t take much more of staying in the penthouse.  I felt like it was too big, I wasn’t really here, that it was isolating being so far away from everything, that I felt like I was watching the pool area on a TV.

So, after breakfast, we packed our stuff and moved to our “home” – 211.  It just feels so right to be here.

There was no one in 211B so the connecting door was left open.  We actually own this apartment, too, but usually put it in the rental pool.

The year that my dear friend, Sue (SuziQ to Cushies), was here, she stayed in this apartment and used the garden a lot to think about things.  She was going to come back with us the next year, too, but she died first :(  I still miss her so much.  I’m writing this in “Sue’s garden” and remembering how special she was.

So, we’ve been going about our daily business, working mostly, a bit of reading, time by the little pool, a few naps scattered here and there…

Life is good.

They’re Baaack!

It was Wednesday and we had breakfast at L’Azure, one of the restaurants here at The Crane.  I told Tom I couldn’t take much more of staying in the penthouse.  I felt like it was too big, I wasn’t really here, that it was isolating being so far away from everything, that I felt like I was watching the pool area on a TV.

So, after breakfast, we packed our stuff and moved to our “home” – 211.  It just feels so right to be here.

There was no one in 211B so the connecting door was left open.  We actually own this apartment, too, but usually put it in the rental pool.

The year that my dear friend, Sue (SuziQ to Cushies), was here, she stayed in this apartment and used the garden a lot to think about things.  She was going to come back with us the next year, too, but she died first :(  I still miss her so much.  I’m writing this in “Sue’s garden” and remembering how special she was.

Back-door

So, we’ve been going about our daily business, working mostly, a bit of reading, time by the little pool, a few naps scattered here and there…

Life is good.

Tower Pools?

I mentioned earlier today that I didn’t think I was a fan of tower pools, although I’ve never been in one.  To me, they seem like an outdoor bathtub.

The Crane’s buildings have towers/turrets on the corners with plunge pools built into them.  The one here in the penthouse involves a climb up 3 stairs to access.

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I put my feet in long enough to get this image from inside:

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“Our” regular pool seen from up here, right on the end, by the ocean.  Next stop – Africa!

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And the view from “our” regular pool can’t be beat!  The infinity edge makes it seem like it goes on, well, forever.

Barbados

A normal day here I would have sat out in my bathing suit, reading, and when it got too hot, I’d hop in the pool for a bit. Today I read a lot and did computer work. The bathing suit is still dry…

Back To Barbados

What a trip!

I thought by packing earlier on Friday night I could sleep better.  Not so – I was still awake most of the night thinking, worrying…

At 8:30am I left with Mimi for her sister’s house.  Mimi is so lucky – she doesn’t even know what a kennel is.

I got back home and waited for Tom to get there.  He rolled in at 10am, just after the taxi got there.

The trip to Regan airport was uneventfull.  We actually got there about 10:30, possibly the earliest we have arrived for any flight.

Checkin, security, no problems.  We decided to have something to eat at this little place by the gate.  No coffee!  AARRGGHH  Tom convinced the manager that they should still have coffee at 10:45am.

Boarded plane.  We had seats D and F.  Tom convinced the woman in E that she’d like to move back a couple rows closer to her husband…and we had no one in E so could stretch out a bit more.

From the beginning this was a bumpy ride, thanks to Hurricane Isaac which was headed to Miami, same as us.  You can see him just over Cuba at 60 miles per hour at the time we were nearing Miami.

Hurricane Isaac

The path of Hurricane Isaac

We finally landed and found our next gate, only 4 gates away.  Gate 1 was already fairly crowded with people headed to Barbados.

I found a little newsstand with the nut/fruit bars I like. I got 2 at $3.99 each.

Settled in for the 2 hour wait and an announcement came up that we were leaving 30 minutes early.  Ok, great for us, not those running for a connection.

Waited a bit more.  Announcement that our plane had major issues and they would find us a new one

Waited.  New gate.  Now gate 50 which is 2 terminals away by sky train and we had 30 minutes to get there.

We navigated all that and got there to learn they’d found a plane but it needed to be made ready.

Tom went to the newsstand for snacks.  The only thing I’d had so far was that fruit/nut bar at gate 1

He came back with a variety of stuff, including some more fruit/nut bars. But at this gate they were only $2.89. Go figure!

Finally, we got onboard.  We were the last flight out of Miami for a few days.  Another bumpy trip but we made it to Barbados at 11:30.  Naturally, out suitcase was nearly last on the carrousel but it arrived!  Through Immigration and Customs and off to Stoute for our rental car.  Tom’s debit card was rejected…we’d forgotten to let them know we were traveling.

We got to The Crane just before midnight and found out that the people who had been in our apartment last week hadn’t been able to leave so they were giving us the penthouse for the night, the week or the whole trip.

Penthouse

The Crane Penthouse

This place is huge, too big for us.  If Michael can come this weekend, that would be good but otherwise…

We opened up all the doors for a cross breeze, looked around a bit and fell asleep.

Early on Sunday, Tom went to his usual meeting and I poked around. This place didn’t seem to have a laundry, a feature we rely on heavily but I found one across the hall.

I do hate the “tower pools” but I haven’t actually been in one yet.  Maybe it won’t be so bad.

I texted Michael and Alice to let them know we’d gotten here and called my mom.

Did some work and started this blog post.  The wifi up here is very slow and the first picture hasn’t even uploaded yet. Maybe I’ll add the other to another post…later.

Tom came back with salt bread so all is well in my world!

Bajan Salt Bread

This traditional bread made in Barbados, is one of the only breads that isn’t very sweet. However don’t let the name fool you. This bread is definitely not salty. This bread can be used to accommodate almost any filling. This local delicacy is the housing for the popular bread & two which consists of salt bread filled with two fish cakes.

You can find salt breads at bakeries and bread shops throughout the island of Barbados. A pack usually contains six (6) salt breads sold in clear plastic bags.  Bajan Salt Breads are baked daily and would usually be accompanied by a piece of khus grass on the bread, but do not be afraid! This is to preserve the freshness of the bread. Enjoy!

Lazy Days and… Tuesdays?

In the morning, a reporesentative from the Sunday non-catamaran came here to convince us we’d like to have a free trip with them plus they would pay for our taxi getting back here.  Tom said no, maybe we’d take them up on that offer next year.  The representative and Tom called the president of the company who was also stunned that we wouldn’t be bought off for a free catamaran trip and a $30 taxi ride.

Turns out that they were supposed to pick up 9 people at the Hilton but only 4 showed up.  So they inconvenienced about 40 people for the Hilton and less than 50% of their folks even showed up.

But we moved on…

A lazy, lazy day by The Crane pools.  These pictures were taken throughout the day and into the evening.  To see the whole album and some nice sunset shots, please click here.