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Which way did summer go?

Posted by PlayGroundology on September 24, 2008

The Smith Cordeau family has packed up and headed south. We were feeling just a touch jilted by the summer that never was. We’re not really complaining though because we played in some Pacific coast sun in May and are now feeling the heat under Caribbean skies.

This illustration pretty accurately captures our mood, excitement and joie de vivre. The family portrait in water-based marker was rendered by 6-year-old artist Passy Vinet earlier this summer while visiting her family in Ville Mercier. Passy’s dad Jean and I met 30 years ago as participants on a Canada World Youth exchange with Sénégal. On the afternoon of the portrait, Passy canvassed each of us about our favourite colours. She didn’t tell us what she was cooking up. An hour or so later with a flourish and a smile, she presented us with this beautiful piece of art. It’s a gift that we’ll treasure forever. We don’t have Passy’s wonderful fashion flair but if we did these are the colours we’d be wearing.

Monday morning we dragged our butts out of bed at 3h00 for a 3h45 departure to Robert L. Stanfield Airport. Noah-David had been counting the sleeps for a week so he was pretty psyched to roll out of the sack and get bundled and buckled into his car seat. Nellie-Rose on the other hand had no idea what was about to unfold. She’d already done the long distance deal to San Diego in May so we were pretty sure she would be up to it. There is only a 1 hour time difference between Nova Scotia and Barbados which makes body and sleep adjustments much easier.

After circling the periphery of the airport parking area twice thanks to construction, bad signage and a broken ticket dispensing machine, I made my way to the only other available parking that requires a shuttle ride to get back to the terminal. It’s now about 4h30 and Mélanie is waiting for me with the kids and 9 or so assorted pieces of luggage. She’s looking forward to my quick reappearance and I’m out dipsy-doodling trying to find a spot to park our chariot for the next 3 weeks. I asked the driver of the shuttle how long it would be before he pushed off. He thought it might be 5 to 10 minutes before he filled it up. I told him my situation – wife with 2 kids under 3 waiting with luggage a go-go. He radioed in his dispatcher and let him know that he was leaving right away. Nice gentleman – thanks again.

Overjoyed might be a bit of an exaggeration but Mélanie was glad to see me approaching. At this time there were very few people checking in which was fortunate because it resulted in us getting some personalized and very helpful assistance. As the boarding card dispenser couldn’t read my chip card (a yet to be perfected technology these chips) one of the agents took us directly to her station allowing us to get past that glitch. This individual was absolutely superb – empathetic, sympathetic, a customer service dream. She took us under her wing and dispatched us with the minimum of fuss all the while engaging in small talk with Nellie and Noah and larger talk with us. Her and I are the same age which she picked up from my passport and she too had started a family later in life. Her parting words to me were, “you look after yourself for those babies.” Her bagging, tagging, lifting, checking and printing took about 20 minutes and was all with a smile, all in a day’s work. With 2 little ones hanging off us and a serious insufficiency of sleep this agent was manna from heaven. Thanks…

We spent 7 hours on planes that day and the 2 sproglets were better than best. They got the sleep that they needed and managed to live within the space confines of economy seats. With Nellie-Rose always on one of our laps it was tight by times. She was Miss Social Butterfly giggling, cooing and making eyes with everyone around her. Her funful gregariousness was like a repeat command performance that Noah had made a couple of years earlier on a flight to Scotland en route to an adventure to the Outer Hebrides. When we landed at Sir Grantley Adams International Airport, Noah-David broke out into a spontaneous Barbados song that had everyone on board smiling.

The moment that we stepped out the rear door of the plane and started down the stairs to the tarmac, we knew without a doubt that summer had made it this far. There was a humid wall of heat that we shimmered through as we made our way to the zig-zag processing line. We still had to get through Customs, get the car hire and make our way to my former mother-in-law’s house.

More on that in our next post.

For now, we’re safe, hot and happy in Barbados. Sunrise at 6h00 and sundown at 6h30 providing plenty of opportunity for all of us to discover new places and for me to reacquaint myself with old haunts.


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