Wednesday, week one: Helicopter Day

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yesterday was such a lazy day for me. Tom ended up working most of the day, on the phone, in conferences, on the computer. So I read a lot of my book, went in the pool, napped and kept cycling through those three.

When he finally finished up he offered to go to Chefette and get some rotis for dinner.. Oh yes! I love roti. Chefette is sort of a Bajan version of McDonalds. There are no McDonalds here, or Burger Kings or most any of the fast food places of the states. Somehow, there is KFC here but that's about it.

So, Chefette fills most everyone's fast food needs with fried chicken, pizza, ice cream, burgers, fries and those rotis. Like similar places in the states, they have playgrounds, "drive thrus" and kid's meals.

Rotis are hugely popular here and most restaurants sell them at least for lunch. There are even places with names such as Roti Hut and there's a place this year that claims that it's the "Home of the One Pound Roti". I guess that's a relative of the "foot-long hotdog".

So, Tom came back with a chicken roti and a beef roti (and 2 kinds of ice cream!). The basic roti is pretty simple. It's potato, curry and other spices wrapped up in something similar to a tortilla. That's the "vegetarian" version. You can stop there or add the beef or chicken. A simple but delicious and filling meal.

We went out for a walk along the old pool, the cliff, sat by the new pools a bit then came back inside.

I had some trouble getting to sleep last night. It was a little warmer and my sunburn is getting a bit itchy so I tossed and turned for awhile. At some point, I noticed a pain/pressure in my chest. It feels sort of how I would imagine it if my lung got pinched in my ribs. Not a big pain but there. That led me to thinking about my cancer and the possibility that it metastasized to my lungs. Oh, joy. I started trying to think about where my lung nodules but couldn't remember. I think I have a CT scan in my future!

It's only 7:30 am right now and I already hear a small boat by the cliffs. Fishermen sail out there each morning to get the "catch of the day" for the L'Azure and Zen restaurants here and some of the west coast restaurants. One of the first years we were here, one of the staff pointed out lobster being brought in. It's amazing that they were so close to where people were swimming just up the beach.


We're b-a-a-a-c-k!

IMGP1510 We got to the helicopter parking place outside the Barbados Concorde Experience in plenty of time and our pilot went out to do a last minute check of everything. I was amazed how small this was - and that they covered it with a cloth, sort of like you do with a car in the driveway.

The pilot, David, let us know when he was ready and I dutifully followed while Tom, as always, took more pictures.

He caught up and more pictures were taken before the safety rules were discussed.


We learned not to open the door during flight - yeah, right! - and to keep the seatbelt on. No problem with any of that.

We sat for a while before take off. The engines had to warm up and we were listening to the flight tower from Grantley Adams airport so we would know when it was safe to go.

Finally, we lifted gently up and were off. It wasn't straight up like I'd imagined but it felt like we were a gondola swinging from the propellers. I felt vaguely dizzy. I had expected to feel scared, not IMGP1522


This is the Crane from the air. We followed the coast all the way around Barbados except for where the airport is.

Unfortunately, it started raining when we got near the northernmost point. David wanted to avoid the rain so he headed out to sea to get past the clouds.

I am not normally a good flyer. I hate turbulence, noise, anything out of the ordinary.IMGP1553 So, here we are, cramped in this small space high above the ocean, heading out towards sea. And some rain came in through Tom's door. I was sure that his door wasn't properly sealed. I was also sure that I might be sick. I saw some barf bags so I guess I'm not the first one to think of that.

When we had passed the storm, we could actually see some shipwrecks in the water. We have snorkeled near these same wrecks so that was pretty cool.

By the time we got back, the rain had let up and it was a sunny day again. David landed and I wanted to get OUT. NOW. But we had to sit and wait for the propellers to stop spinning and for the engine to cool down before it could be turned off.

I was so glad to get back on solid ground. I can now say that I've been in a helicopter - and probably never will again!

Our helicopter tickets got us admission to the Concorde Experience so, of course, we went in there, too. The A/C was wonderful!

Until 2003 the Concorde had made regular flights to and from Barbados. This was one of only 4 regularly scheduled stops, the others being London, Paris and New York. It was always a big deal to see the Concorde arrive or depart. We happened to be here in Barbados for it's final flight from here and it was a big deal locally. We were very glad when we heard that British Airways was sending the Concorde back to Barbados on a permanent loan. There is also one in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which we have seen several times but their display is nowhere near as good.

We went inside the huge hangar housing the graceful plane and joined a group that had just started its tour. We learned some of the history of the plane, sat in a mock departure lounge, saw the luggage requirements (the plane isn't all that big inside and luggage was limited. It was expected that your maid or butler would fly a slower plane with the rest of your stuff), saw various place settings over the years.

IMGP1667 Then we got to go up the red carpet and up the stairs. I thought if you were paying the thousands of dollars required for this trip they would have had an escalator!

The next guide greeted us and led us on - through the hold. It was really small and I could see why luggage was so limited.

The seats and windows were also much smaller than I'd have imagined. The windows were small to keep them from breaking at supersonic speeds and had 3 layers of glass.


After we saw the cockpit (also very small!) we deplaned and they had a show on the side of the plane. It was part light show, part movie, part sound effects. They lit lights on the floor that looked like a runway would look. They showed the speedometer and when it hit mach 2, there was a loud supersonic boom and I jumped out of my seat.

After that show, we walked around some, saw part of a movie of the history of the Concorde (on sale in the giftstore, of course), saw the history of flight in Barbados. I was interested to see that, in the very early days, before control towers, Cable and Wireless would call when a plane was coming in and someone would go out and light the grass in the field on fire so the pilot would know where to land. Amazing!

We could have gone up on the flight deck and watched planes arriving/departing Grantley Adams but I was getting tired. So what else is new? We looked around the giftstore some and Tom got some jim-crackies and a T-shirt.

We got back home and decided to go out to lunch. I was ready but Tom decide to check his I fell asleep. We got to L'Azure, one of the restaurants here and sat out on the deck on top of the cliff.

Then, finally, real nap time for me. Hooray!


Tom's version:

Before Flight over Barbados and surrounding seas
Sunny weather on the South Coast The Crane
overlooking Crane Beach
On the East Coast
with an approaching storm
The edge of the storm
above the waves breaking on the
Atlantic Coast of Barbados
The pilot flies further out to sea
as we move north working around the edge of the storm
The storm is largely behind us
Banking to starboard
working around the storm
Out of the southern edge
of the storm
and back to sunny weather
Approaching the heliport
A few feet above touch down
A capable Pilot and
A Passenger who is happy to be back on terra firma
On the next day, after flying around the edges of a storm in the air, above Barbados
We sail
before a following wind
aboard a Catamaran
along the edges
of a storm off shore along
the West coast of Barbados
Dark clouds and choppy seas
...the storms are
brief moments
in otherwise sunny days


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