I imagined there’d be a mix of Jamaicans and holidaying Brits on the plane. I was wrong! I think I counted about 3 other white faces in total on our Virgin Atlantic flight from Gatwick to Kingston.
Excluding, of course, the hassled air hostesses who were being kept busy with constant drink orders… I think the guy seated in front of H (my husband) had 7 doubles during the flight – first whiskey, then rum! Which meant alot of rocking back and forth in his fully reclined seat, gently breaking Husband’s legs…
Leaving Ireland was awful. We were dropped off to Dublin airport at 7am in the dark and freezing rain, saying very sad goodbyes to H’s Mother who we’ll not be seeing for 6 months. We were a dejected sight as she drove away, standing there, me fairly pregnant and H with a trolley stacked high with our 3 big suitcases and 2 small ones. I always see people in airports with mad amounts of luggage and wonder what their stories are – well, we looked like we were leaving forever.. The job contract’s only 2 years and we feel certain that we’ll be back then, but it’s hard to really know. But we also feel very lucky in a way, there’s a lot of people leaving Ireland out of necessity to find work – and we are definitely leaving by choice.
Getting the luggage checked in was a relief. Feeling literally 100 kilos lighter we went through and caught our flight to Gatwick, the dark and rain giving way to a beautiful Irish winter’s morning as we took off into the clouds. I’m going to miss that long winter light, that drops huge shadows and makes the freezing fields glow.
We didn’t have long at Gatwick, whizzing though Boots and Smiths to pick up a few bits, laughing as we spotted Jamaicans all over the airport, me constantly wondering if we’d get chatting to any of them – would any of them be our friend?
It’s a weird feeling going from being plugged into a whole network of friends and family all around, to suddenly being just us two – and Zorbie the unborn baby of course! But to suddenly feel like it’s just the two of you going off into the world, makes you want to hold on to that person very tightly!
The plane journey was 10 hours, and took about an extra hour to get everyone boarded – people constantly getting up and mooching around, getting bags up and down from the lockers. I got chatting to a nice lady on my left – a British / Jamaican pensioner on her way home for a few months to get some sunshine. I told her that I was hoping to have my baby at the Andrews Memorial Clinic in clinic, and she was delighted telling me it was run by 7th Day Adventists, just like she was, and that Christ was coming back soon! She’d moved to London in the 60’s and was dressed in her best church clothes for the flight, a sweet lady though some of her stories didn’t make much sense, and after a while I realised it didn’t really matter if I was listening to her or not, so then I just got on with my book!
On one of my many trips up and down to the loo, I had to stop and smile at the sight of H’s white face in the middle of that cabin, not another white face near us, with our adventist leaning across chatting to him and him smiling back at her saying ‘yes’ with that glazed over look of a deer in the headlights, unintentionally encouraging her to go on and on and on…
Finally we arrived. Amazingly so did our bags. H managed to tie about 3 together, and I wheeeled 2 of the smaller ones, and we staggered out into the suddenly dark, hot tropical night! When we’d landed, only about 45 minutes earlier it had been bright sunshine – giving us great views as we came in, but sunsets in the Caribbean are fast – more like ‘Lights Out!’.
We were met by a friendly driver working for H’s company, who drove us FAST into town, diving in and out of the lanes, beeping at everyone. The seat belts didn’t work, so we just hung onto the seats and hoped for the best – while I stared goggle eyed out the window. The drive in from Kingston airport ain’t pretty – goes through some pretty poor parts of town, all felt slightly overwhelming considering it was midnight irish time and I’d been awake since 4am!
We arrived at the Courtleigh Hotel, said goodbye to our friendly cab driver (who I am determined to learn to drive like!) and as there was some hold up with our room, just left everything in reception and went to the hotel bar for something to eat. Suddenly we were sat out by a pool by candlelight, drinking red-stripe, eating delicious calamari while our stinky travel clothes were gently rifled by a warm wind.
“Help!” I said, to no-one in particular. “I’ve been kidnapped and made to live in the Caribbean!!”