Petrels and pelicans scoured the bay off our hotel, as we gratefully submerged ourselves into the brilliant turquoise water. Bracing against a strong wind and swimming against the current kept us in a holding pattern along the shore line. Needlefish, snapper and silvery schools of baitfish swam around us as the birds dove into the sea to catch their lunch.
After a hard landing bounce followed by a consoling grip on the tarmac, we came ashore on St Maarten after a flight that the stewardesses confided, carried the most difficult passengers in their experience.
It began at boarding and finding a man and his 3 children in our seats. A stewardess asked if we would mind moving a few rows back. One glance at this family made our decision unanimous.
We settled into our seats, creating our own nest and buffer from the stress of careening through the air at 100’s of mph at 10’s of thousands of feet off planet earth. It was too early to ask for alcohol; the sun was yet to rise, so we settled for slumber to re-envelop us after our 4 am wake up call.
But all was not well with the man and his offspring.
The FAA allows only a reasonable number of bodies to occupy a row but the father insisted they would scrunch together. Six employees crowded the aisle to explain the FAA guidelines, but he argued relentlessly while Jim and I watched as our on time departure hopes ticked away. After exhausting everyone’s patience, he took a seat with a squalling child somewhere behind us, but once we were airborne he wore a path between his wife and children nearby us.
Behind us, another passenger allowed her dog to trot around the cabin, also against airline rules, and she was slapped with a fine after we landed in St Maarten. Belligerent people up and down the aisle unsettled everyone, until finally the pilots intervened. They predicted turbulence, theoretcally as it turned out, in our future, and ordered all passengers to sit down and stay down. A couple sour apples in our airborne basket, made the rest of us happy to come ashore.
But we worried that we could be spending a week’s vacation with some of these people.
Rum punches, please.