We are here and happily settling into island life. But we’ve had a bit of adventure already. Frank and I have both been to the BVIs and thought this would be a nice vacation because we knew the area and we’d already visited many of the places so could just relax. Feeling rather smug, we booked a flight directly to Tortola (rather than the larger St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands across the way). We flew out of chilly Washington, DC to San Juan, Puerto Rico and looked for our gate – D12 on Cape Air. We followed the maze of airport hallways filled with Duty Free stores and cafes until they got barer and barer, with construction sites filling the void. But we kept following to D12.
We turned the corner on the last hallway and glanced out the window to see a half-dozen of the teeniest planes I have every seen sitting on the tarmac. None of them held more than 10 people. There was no cargo hold below the seats, so I was wondering how in the world they would even fit our suitcases (admittedly, mine was on the heavy side). The last time I flew here had been on an American Airways jet. I booked through Travelocity and assumed we’d have something similar. Hmmm . . . maybe the BVIs would not be as predictable as we thought.
It turns out D12 is the gate for a fleet of puddle-jumpers that fly among different close-by islands, so there was quite a crowd. We checked in and had to give our weight – I made Frank cover his ears when I gave mine. Then they weighed each of our carry-on bags. When they called our flight, they took us behind the counter – all 8 of us – and let us introduce ourselves to each other. Then the gate agent led us outside to one of the teeny planes, and we could see suitcases sitting in the nose – so that’s where they store them. He told us we couldn’t bring any carry-ons inside the plane (even purses) and popped open a compartment in the wing. We had to drop off our belongings in one wing or the other – to be even. At that point, I just starting chuckling thinking this will be a good blog story for sure.
To board we had to climb through a little hole in the side of the plane. He called our names and told us where to sit. Frank got the best seat – on Row 1, right next to the pilot (no security separating the cockpit – it was just Row 1). They distributed us around, with me in the back – I guess as ballast for my suitcase in the nose!
One of the passengers said, “It’s hot in here,” so the pilot said, “No problem” and rolled down the window and we taxied off. At that point, I did reach down to make sure I knew where my life jacket was. Frank said he was trying to pay attention because if something happened to the pilot, he figured it was up to him to fly the plane.
But we made it safe and sound – and I have to say – what a view! On Tortola, we crawled out of the little hole, one by one, and just walked into the airport. It was the shortest customs line I’ve ever seen since Frank and I were the only “non citizens.”
Unfortunately, Frank’s bag didn’t showed up. We inquired, and the Cape Air agent said, “No worries. They almost always show up by the next day.” So off to our hotel, which is beautiful. We settled into our room when the airline called and said, “The bag is here – I am the driver and on the way to deliver.” Hooray! We celebrated with cocktails overlooking the water.
A couple hours later – still no bag – so Frank called the same number back. A frazzled sounding man answered and Frank asked about his bag. “Oh mon – I am just in the shower – I will have to you very soon.” Welcome to island life – this may be more of an adventure than we thought. (But Frank does have his bag.)