Aug 10, 2007

Home sweet Caribbean home...

Yup, back in Grenada, as many have probably figured out by now (hi Lorrie and Lori!).

Why haven't I written before now? Because I'm lazy? Check. Because the first night I didn't have internet? Check. Because because because. But no more making excuses...

Getting to and from Grenada just flat sucks. It does. So far I had my adventures with American Airlines and getting left at the gate for 8 hours to meet another flight that was 2 hours late to go to a destination that wasn't my original. Blech. AND a 70 pound rigid baggage allowance, and by rigid, I mean THEY WILL MAKE YOU LEAVE YOUR SHIT AT THE AIRPORT! Yeah, that rigid. Can't pay extra for it either.

So.... forget that... try Air Jamaica. They weren't too horrible to my parents who kindly brought a bunch of my stuff last term, AND I got all my stuff then.

This time? Boston to New York to Montego Bay to Jamaica, a flight schedule that sucks when all goes well. Did all go well? No.

First of all, again, I will reiterate my hatred of driving in Boston by regaling my tale of getting lost on the way to the airport after leaving the apartment late, so my send-off was a hyperstressful nasty sort of affair, punctuated by HUGE lines out of Boston, poorly marked lines, and kiosks that directed me to "see a gate agent", for absolutely no reason. Awesome.

I'm flying enough now that the security is less of a problem. I used to juggle stuff, but now when I arrive, it is with no metal on my clothing, shoes off, laptop out, no liquids/gels because I don't feel like dealing with the crap, and everything but pants down. Assembling it on the other end still takes some doing...

Flight to New York not bad, but no one told me that in New York, you have to go out through security, take the... Monorail, I suppose, to the next gate, and go back IN through security. Fuuuuuun. But made the plane. Which sat on the runway for an hour.... guess about how long my layover in Jamaica was? "Big deal", I thought. "Classes don't start for a week, I have my biochem flashcards, and there are worse places to spend the night than Jamaica". But the flight from Jamaica to Grenada was late, so I got to sit in the airport on the floor, fortunately distracted by running into Emma and Nina so I had good conversation.

The problem? Well, Nina and I both live in the same apartment complex, which expected us in at 4:40. This was not to be, and I was horribly worried there would be more crap going down and I wouldn't have a place to sleep that night.

Oh, but bigger problems for me. I get to the airport, and not one, but BOTH pieces of my luggage are missing. My luggage is hard to miss because given Air Jamaica's impeccable reputation for losing luggage CONSTANTLY (if you fly them, always pack living stuff in your carry-on, because they lose a huge number of bags and really don't seem to give half a rat's ass about it. They get them back to you when they get around to it). And to anyone from Air Jamaica, I will say nice things about you once you give me my luggage back, which, as of right now, you have not. Until then, I will continue talking massive amounts of shit about you, including a daily "luggage watch", so be advised.

The immigration officer was a sweetheart. The customs officer, on the other hand, was a complete douchebag, and I have no problem saying it.

When you go to Grenada the first time as a student, they will charge you for your own laptop. The one you bought and paid for and use for your own. Yup, that's the one. Sure. Fine. Whatever. I can live with that even though, yes, I think it's B.S., and technically they shouldn't be charging you for it since you won't be on the island more than 6 months at a time, but I'll pay it.

But I DID pay it, and kept the receipt, but when I got the receipt, apparently that guy just scrawled random numbers on it from the bottom of my laptop, which was NOT the serial number, and despite the make and model being the same, this customs agent simply would not believe that it was the same laptop, and wanted to charge me, so I scanned the bottom of the thing frantically, FINALLY finding the right set of arbitrary numbers, which seemed to actively piss him off, despite the fact that I PAID THE FREAKING IMPORT TAX LAST TERM.

Then, since he couldn't get me on the laptop, he sternly asked me what else was in my bags, to which I replied "clothes and flashcards" to which he snapped "besides clothes!" and then ordered me to open it, searching for more of my crap to tax. Fortunately, he missed the iPod.

The general rule is that if you don't screw around about your laptop by trying to hide it or sending it in with a family member, you present the laptop receipt, pay between 5 and 10% of the price of it, and then go on your merry way. If you screw with them, then you may get charged on clothes, scuba gear, electronics, or whatever they want to hit you up for.

I paid the tax; I did nothing wrong, and I didn't give the guy a lick of attitude, so my only conclusion is that he's a complete jackass. You heard it here first.

This sort of thing can create kind of a vicious cycle. There are a lot of students here that seem to really hate the island and the people that live on it and talk them down and are rude to them, causing many locals to hate the students. Then, many of the locals are completely rude to new students, who have not been rude or done anything, causing the students to hate the island and the people that live on it and you see where this is going...

Grabbed a taxi to Cool Runnings, half expecting to have to beg a night home off someone, and with only my carry-on, but they were waiting for us, ushered me into my apartment with great haste and compassion, got me situated, didn't demand the rent up front (though I paid a down payment before I left last term), did the inventory on my stuff, and showed me how things work. Then, I had a knock on the door and the manager said that he was taking my friend to the store and asked if I would like to go get some things, after the owner of the complex had offered me some toiletries and other basics because I told him AJ lost my luggage.

Awesome! I'll have pictures soon, but right now it's kind of a mess due to getting three of my bags out of storage today. The others are intact, no worries, but I couldn't see a reason to attempt to haul dive gear and such out of storage when I don't need it, but what I DID need were blankets and other essentials which, of course, had been packed in my luggage, but fortunately ALSO had representation in storage. Thank goodness.

AJ's losing of all my luggage ensured that I spent the last two nights sleeping on my sofa due to an aversion to sleeping on a bare mattress without a pillow. Now, my sofa is quite comfortable (though too short for long term efforts), but it is hardly a replacement for two suitcases worth of home necessities.

Today, I hung out with friends and had a blast and topped it all off by heading for Banana's for light drinks, though they raised the price of Carib, so I am not blogging drunk, especially since I need to save my cash for the taxi I will have to take to the airport to recover my luggage if they ever find it (no, I'm not letting them off the hook tonight, especially since my razors are in there and EWWWW).

Hanging out with people today was really cool, and I got to see the beautiful apartments Lori and Emma have, which make me mourn my lack of interior design skills (and things to interior design with, so to speak). But I have more of a beer and pizza place.

So that's the story. I'm also taking the make-up biochem exam, which has been inexplicably scheduled in the middle of my lectures on the second day, but I'm just grateful to take it and I feel really well prepared, so there ya go.



slappy said...

Hm, sounds like customs getting into Turkey circa 1983. . .

"Let's see, you're trying to bring a hairdryer. . . we'll just take that. No you can't pay for it, it's ours now. As well as this soda. Yes, we're also taking this soda. We're thirsty."

At least that's the story my parents give me :)

slappy said...

That sounds like Turkish customs circa 1983:

"A hairdryer?!? Well, we'll have to be confiscating that, never know WHAT you'll get up to with that. No you can't pay extra, and you shouldn't be so vain as to NEED a hairdryer ANYWAY! This is a modest country!"

According to my parents anyway.

Good to hear that you're safely on the rock!

Ishie said...

Bwa ha ha ha ha... My luggage is probably in Turkey right now... at least it's getting out there. How the hell are you?