I’m not sure if excited was the best word to describe how I was feeling as I boarded the plane at London’s Heathrow Airport. The Desk Clerk had kindly upgraded my seat to first class with all the perks, I had never travelled in anything other than economy before that day. I quickly put my hand luggage in the over head locker and grabbed my book it was going to be a long nine hours, but that was nothing in comparison to the three years I waited for this time to arrive.
I sank in and out of a deep slumber, watching parts of a film, the name I can’t remember. I hadn’t slept much the night before, I had buzzed about and woke way earlier than I needed to. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, the captain announced the planes decent.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about the begin our final descent into Kingston’s Norman Washington Manley Airport, currently the weather in Kingston is clear and sunny with a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius approximately 82 degrees Fahrenheit. If you wish to set your watches, the local time in Jamaica is currently ten minutes after three. We thank you for flying with us and wish you a safe onward journey”
The Air Stewardess asked me to raise my window blind for landing, I removed the itchy comfort of the complimentary blanket, stood up bracing into a full stretch, as my eyes roamed around the cabins. Passengers queued for wash rooms, others made do where they sat, removing layers of clothing, fixing hair and make up. I peered through my tiny window, my neck stiff, as I had fallen asleep in an upright position, I had wasted the opportunity of first class luxury. I could see the shape the Jamaica landscape made nestled in the sea below with its twisty white sandy edges, something I had longed to view. I sat, reached for my seat belt and smiled knowing I was home at last.
A few moments later the Air Cabin Crew announced …….
“Would all passengers kindly return to your seats, fasten your seat belts and return your seat to the fully upright position and ensure that your tables are carefully stowed. Please ensure all personal items and articles of hand luggage are stored securely in the overhead lockers or under the seat in front of you and that no items are obstructing the exits. After landing please remain seated with seat-belts fastened until the aircraft has come to a halt at the gate and the captain has switched off the seat-belt signs.”
My stomach somersaulted, as the plane continued it’s decent, from a mixture of jelly belly and euphoria, suddenly wheels touched down bumping onto the tarmac to a round of thanks giving and applause. At that moment, I wanted whip off the constraints of my seat belt and spring out of my seat but I sat quietly as the plane slowly taxied towards the airport terminal. As the seat belt light went out, you could hear the clicks and clatter in the cabins behind as passengers quickly removed their seat belts and rose to their feet, opening the over head lockers. There were heightened voices of excitement rushing through the galley, as passengers quickly exited their positions and headed towards the plane’s thoroughfare. As the doors opened, I could feel the rush of the Kingston heat caress my face and bare shoulders, I closed my eyes to absorb this welcoming, it was so good to be home.
I walked quickly to immigration, I had travelled fairly light and was all too aware of the incommodious wrangling at Kingston’s airport. There was of course the evident laid back, ‘no problem’ vibe which hung distinctly in the air. With my stamped passport and immigration card in hand, I made my way to the baggage claim hall. I was greeted by the antiquity that was the baggage turnstile, the alarm rang out at each and every jam and stoppage, the baggage handlers moved in slow motion to adjust whatever was causing the constant debacle.
I stood for sometime with my open pores crying to be refreshed, as perspiration ran slowly down the centre of my back and into my underwear, I held my arms close to my body as distinct sweat stains on my denim outfit grew larger as time elapsed. I sighed and peered over at the turnstile intermittently, wondering how much longer? Then as if my concern was somehow spiritually recognised, my luggage eventually appeared. I retrieved it unaided, exited via one of the green nothing to declare aisles and after a few immigration questions, I was finally heading alongside a redcap to the warm embrace of my grandmothers arms. Oh, how I missed her smell of Estee Lauder Perfume and the cold soft sag of her arms, which I had stroked and nuzzled endlessly as a child.
As a teenager I had left the comforts of Caribbean living which I had missed so much, hardships there had taught and prepared me for so many things in life, alongside fond memories growing up. I was home now and I intended to have a blast.
© 2015 ANL
Picture taken in St Ann, Jamaica © 2015 ANL