The Carribean Call or The West Indian Welcome

30th June
Left for the airport in the morning, actually late night I could say. The cab driver was in a hurry. We left quickly for the airport, and talked on the way regarding server, and other things. The queen was then at Halifax (yeah, there is just one queen). Was quiet happy for the visit to Grenada. Came to the airport, and realized I have been lucky enough for a special security check. Yeah, I went with them and got scanned, can’t help it. Though I found a lady resisting the scan, and it worked for her. Guess what how much the cab driver charged for the ride to airport, 90 dollars. My prof said, yes, thats the usual fare.

As usual, Halifax airport has free WiFi, but didn’t have enough time to enough connect on my iPad, and inform friends and family that I am departing. We got into the plane, though myself and my prof didn’t have adjacent seats. I was quite worried about the project installation. Infact I was worried about it weeks earlier. I didn’t experience anything like this earlier, going on a business trip, to present our software and training people. It was indeed a very pleasing experience, tensed too.

We arrived at Toronto airport, I think I would memorize the names of everything… shops, gates, one more time I visit there. My baggage was checked in for Barbados, and didn’t have to check it again. The cutoff time for international flights is 1 hour, and I think we just made it. We had to take some breakfast. Went to starbucks, and shedded 25 dollars for just 2 pitas and 2 colddrinks. My prof didn’t even eat the pita completely as he didn’t like it, it went to the bin. I preserved it for emergency situations. Barbados was calling. I didn’t know what to expect from the place, the only thing I knew, we had a 5 star beach resort booked for us (just for a transit night stay).

It was 2 in the afternoon, and we arrived at Barbados. Landing on the airport, coming out of the plane, I felt the heat. Oh! is it India? Not exactly, the wind speed is quite high here, unlike India, and temperature is ~30 degrees. We went to the arrivals/immigration. The maintenance wasn’t good at the arrivals, and I can definitely say Patna arrivals is much more well maintained than Barbados. Now, the next thing was immigrations. I had some idea that Indians need a visa to travel to Barbados, but didn’t realize a visa is required even for a day’s stay in transit. The next thing was getting a single day’s visa at the airport itself. The queue was very long, even if you compare it with Indian standards, it took around an hour to reach at the visa office.

The visa officer then started asking all sorts of question, that partially I answered, and partially my prof answered. My prof is a dual citizen, Canadian as well as Grenadian, so he didn’t need any visa. We had to pay 50USD as visa fee. But, who carries USD while travelling from Canada? My prof went to the bank at airport, and got the money, and I had a single day visa issued. Left the airport, took a cab and left for the beach resort. The cab driver, was driver cum guide, and was very talkative. He had that typical West Indian accent, that Indians would recognize as Jamaican. He told us interesting things like the whole land was for sugar canes, but now they are available for anyone in the world to purchase except Russians (sounds strange) and there is no property tax! The place is almost crime free, as there hasn’t been an incident of burgulary, murder, rape in the last 80 years.

Before coming to Barbados, I had a different picture of the in mind. I thought the place will be small, which can be covered on foot, with just a few gorgeous beaches and cricket stadiums. I was wrong, the place isn’t that much small, its quite big rather. I would say if you have NCR combined into and island, Barbados wil be one of them. Though there a few islands nearby that can be traversed completely on foot.

We arrived at the beach resort. While on the car, I could see the beaches. They were gorgeous, I was correct in this regard. They were long, wide, and a lot of them. An island beach is definitely a different experience than an inland beach, you get a much wider view. The beaches were just walking distance away. Or rather saying the resort was at the beach itself would be more appropriate. We had doors in our rooms that would directly lead to the beach, thats the minimum you would expect, they charged 300USD per night.

I realized I didn’t bring my laptop converter with me (remember there are different pins across the world, why don’t they just standardize it?). We came back, I connected to the internet, called my family and chatted with friends (thats one good thing that my laptop offers, besides others, a very good battery backup). My prof was working on the instruction manual in the meanwhile. We were a bit tired for the day (had just 90 minutes sleep last night, both of us, because of an early morning flight). We went for dinner, and guess what, candle lit dinner, for the first time!! It was beautiful, having a candle lit dinner, almost at the beach, at night. The sound of water gushing, the cool air flowing, everything was just mesmerizing. The food was good, we talked about different things during dinner. I have never spent so much time with my prof, considering the fact that I have been working with him since last summers. He is the Associate-Dean of Dalhousie University, Halifax. He is just too busy with all his meetings, appointments, etc. People have to book appointments a week in advance to see him. I just feel privileged to spend a complete week with him.

The dinner was great, and the bill too. Had a 133 dollars bill, and my prof added 15 dollars to it as tip. We came back to our respective rooms and had a good cozy sleep.

1st July
We had to wake up early in the morning, though we didn’t have an early morning flight. Here is a flight called Liat airlines operating in the Carribeans, that has very bad reputation. There is a story why we chose this airlines. I am an Indian, visiting Canada as shorttime worker. All the routes to Grenada had US cities in transit, and Indians need a transit visa to transit any of US airports. We were thinking of applying for a visa, but at the last moment figured out all the visa appointments for the next 6 weeks are full. So, we had just one option left, go to Barbados via Toronto, and then take this silly Liat airlines to reach Grenada.

Liat airlines has a baggage allowance of just 1 checked in baggage, and a single hand baggage not to exceed 7kgs (they are very strict about it, will charge you if you exceed). It is always possible with Liat airlines that you may not get a seat even after a confirmed booking and inside the plane, its like a bus, where you can claim any of the seats as your own (no seating arrangement). It is also possible that you may not see your checked in baggage again (well they actually said it bluntly, “you are aware, the baggage may be lost”). I have never heard of such an airline, and didn’t believed it until I actually faced it. So, we decided to leave early for the airport, to maximize our chances of getting a seat, and get our baggages checked in properly, because, its Liat.

I rushed into the aircraft to claim a window seat, as I was very anxious of recording the islands from above on my camcorder. The islands looked extemely beautiful, rather saying they were beautiful will be a gross understatement. I took my camcorder out, and started shooting, and enjoyed the beauty of the moment. I didn’t feel how 50 mins passed by, and we started descending at the Maurice Bishop International Airport, Grenada. Guess what, I forgot I was travelling on Liat.

I just forgot to tell you that only the arrivals at Grantley Adams Airport, Barbados are rugged, and the departures are as good as any other world class international airport.

Thanks for reading, I didn’t find time to write more, it has been extremely busy here. I hope you liked it. Please leave feedback, if you like it, it will encourage me to write about the next 5 days at West Indies, and the next 5 days at Toronto/Niagara Falls. Or just say, “no more emosanal atyachar” :D

Comments (3)

raghuJuly 10th, 2010 at 4:06 am

awesome dude…eagerly waiting to read your story ahead…upload some pics too…

AbhishekJuly 12th, 2010 at 6:09 am

Its more of a fun reading your account than wat u say “emoseenal atyaachaar”..though u have become more a “Pardesi…….” these days..

AbhishekJuly 12th, 2010 at 6:27 am

“The place is almost crime free, as there hasn’t been an incident of burgulary, murder, rape in the last 80 years” ——- Are you aware of wat u ‘r writing!!!
Have felt proud to be a ‘human’ many times in the traditional texts,but never before in practical life like this.Your comment comes both as a MORAL(e) booster as well as a soothing balm in this cynical world.Barbados is Heaven! Just want to trust you…..

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