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So, you think travelling is always fun, eh? (Part 2)

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My next stop was Texas. Texas to me means heat – mucho heat. When I was last there some years ago, it was over 100 degrees for the whole month I spent there. Then, there was some concern about the West Nile disease, a number of people having already died in Texas. I was bound for Arlington where my brother Bert and his wife Rebertha live. Arlington is part of the Dallas Fort Worth area and is known for the Dallas Cowboys stadium that was built in 2009. Its seating capacity of 80,000 makes it the second largest stadium in the NFL and it is also the largest domed stadium in the world. It is also the site of a GM Assembly plant.{{more}}

The population of Arlington, according to the last census in 2010, was 365,438. It appeared to have grown tremendously and I saw a significant number of blacks in the metropolitan area, compared to my last visit. A lime at my brother’s residence helped me to re-establish contact with my old Grammar School friend Ellie Bowman and also with Roderick Browne. Ellie and I were

members of the school’s football and cricket teams. Then, there was my cousin Raquel and her family. Fortunately, this time around, the temperature never got beyond the 90s and in fact, some mornings were quite cool. One afternoon, too, while visiting the Grape Fest in Fort Worth/Dallas I was forced to take refuge in a restaurant and to consume about four cups of coffee. I missed seeing Jenson Jack who was out of state, but had a wonderful time with family and friends.

After a pleasant and relaxing visit it was time to head home. I should have known from the time I went to check in for my American Airline flight that it was going to be a bad day. I had to check in at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport at terminal C which is the domestic terminal, perhaps because I was going through Miami, but had to go to terminal D for departure. The lady attending to me spent almost ten minutes staring at the computer screen. I was beginning to believe that somehow my name was listed there as a suspected terrorist. After a while she asked me for my visa. I found this a strange request, since I was leaving the country. However, I presented my US visa. She looked at it and then told me that what she wanted was my Barbados visa. I was shocked.

I spent another fifteen minutes trying to convince her that I had no need to present a visa in Barbados. She let me know that her information was that I needed one. What do you do with such people! I showed her that I had a number of Barbados stamps on my Vincy passport. This meant little to her. When was I leaving Barbados? I handed her my LIAT e-ticket. By this time, she decided to consult with one of her colleagues. She then asked if LIAT was a boat! I was so shocked with what was happening that I had nothing else to say, but my brother took on the task of trying to correct them. Eventually, pressed I believe by time, more than anything else, I was checked in.

My flight was supposed to reach Miami at 9:20 and I was to depart on another AA flight at 10:25. I got to Miami a few minutes late, but had time on hand. I got to gate 34. About fifteen minutes after we were due to depart, there was an announcement that we might have to take another plane and possibly use another gate. That announcement came some ten minutes later. We had to go to gate 49. I got there in quick time, but was informed after about five minutes that we had to go to another gate, gate 4. I took the sky train rather than undertake the long walk to gate 4. There, I found out later, ten other Vincentians were on that flight. A young lady, a 1992 graduate of the GHS, recognised me and came and spoke to me. She now lives in Barbados and has her own travel agency which, however, only deals with cruises and excursions. She then recognised other Vincentians and went to speak to them. I indicated to them in jest that she was in the travel business and might be able to help us. When we got on board we were more than three hours late and knew that we were not going to catch our 5:20 flight. There was an announcement that there was someone on board who was willing to assist the passengers to St Vincent and Mustique. Our friend took the information and contacted her people in Barbados. We were later informed that we would be put on standby for the 8 p.m. flight, but failing that we would be put up by American Airlines. An American woman who sat next to me was going to Palm Island, but was quite excited about visiting the Black Point tunnel. She said “Imagine digging a tunnel through the rock and not paying the people who worked on it”; a euphemistic way of saying that it was done by slaves.

We got in some minutes after 4:30. The LIAT flight was still on the ground, but LIAT is such a professional entity that it couldn’t risk delay by waiting on us. We checked in at the LIAT desk. Our names were taken and we were told to check back at 6:30. Eventually at about 7 p.m. we were informed that the flight was full, but we would be guaranteed seats on the 10 0’clock flight next morning. AA arranged to put us up at the Accra Beach Hotel.

As angry as I was, I was more concerned about five Vincentian sailors, three of them coming from Botswana in Africa, who had already spent three days of their five-week holiday getting to Miami and risked losing another two. The story of meal vouchers for the hotel, which could not even pay for a bowl of soup is another story which time does not permit me to tell. But it all ended beautifully with a pleasant flight home, arriving about twenty minutes early, at that.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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