Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Soothing the thousand cuts just enough to haul more coal.

The travel warrior sometimes gets to have the weary body pampered while trekking across countries. For the few, who are not US Marines, that usually starts with a ticket in one of the "upper" classes--business or first. With that comes what is now privilege, or what used to be near-normal treatment. To start with, you can usually find yourself in a nice lounge, with drinks and food (at least decent snacks and sandwiches, as in Barbados), or the full catering of a buffet meal (as at BA's lounge in JFK's terminal 7). So, you can relax before or during a flight easily enough; and with BA you can have your meal before a night flight and then just go to sleep on the plane. You can even relax on arrival, because BA has an arrivals lounge at Heathrow terminal 4, so that you can take breakfast. The BA lounges also offer massages and showers, so you can get a good stroke down before and after the flight, and freshen up before and after the flight. Well, my years of travel helped me get miles to upgrade so that I could get my privileges.

But, for all that, I had to spend almost the whole of Monday either in the hotel (till early afternoon) or in the lounge. So, I wrote and I watched people and I dozed just a tiny bit. Had supper. Had massage. Had shower. Got on plane at 10pm. Watched movies and then slept for 2 hours--the flight was only about 6 hours. Tiredness was dragging me down but it's still hard to sleep on a plane, even when the seat turns into a full flat bed. I should have appreciated all of that rest and downtime because when you get to London you are in "travel jungle". Having lived in that city for nearly 30 years it's only as a traveller with luggage and or children that you realise that the Underground is like an early pilot for "Survivor". As most of the stations are old and dug deep, it's a long way down and up. But the escalator and elevator are modern inventions. So, to make an interchange between lines, you have to climb and descend a lot of stairs. That's why you should try to travel light. But my one suitcase, which was at the limit of 50 pounds had me huffing and puffing all morning as I moved from Heathrow across the city. Add to that some fool mistake because my brain was frazzled and I went to the wrong line, then had to go back a station. My destination is one of London's real treats for travellers--Arsenal, near the football team's stadium. Yes, it has stairs, two sets of about 15 each. But then it has a long ramp, which even with a case that rolls well makes you feel like Cysiphus pushing the pea up the hill. Lawd!

I was blessed in remembering that a later flight from the US would bring me in at mid-morning so miss the rush hour. Because if you and your luggage are in that stampede, heaven help you.

So, now I am good and tired. Ready to tackle some English bickles. Has to be fish and chips. All of you who have never lived in England don't understand the gnawing irritation of being served perhaps decent battered fried fish, English-style, but then having it messed up with those sorry specimens, called "French fries", which even the Freench would reject. Chips are hand-cut, uneven in shape, and big and fat like a farmer's fingers. French fries (outside France) are the factory-ordained, regular shaped, pieces of wood and air produced by McCain's that have been taking over good food like topsy. If there's a campaign to mount it would be for real chips. Even the French know the difference. Real French fries, that you get in France, are really delicious, wiggly looking strips of potato, which go very well with steak, beer, and more fries. But, let me put the foodie equivalent of road rage aside. I found a good fish and chip shop, where the lady fried the battered haddock freshly for me. She added extra chips because I asked and also loved the fact that I had flown from Barbados for them. So, my belly is now full of that lovely grub, dressed with salt and vinegar. All that was missing was my pint, but that's for later. I am now suffering from 30 or so hours without much sleep, and that's not good.

Saving grace for the past two days has been that the French Open has been largely washed out by rain. I may need energy for a marathon session tomorrow. But I also need strength to prepare me for a lunch of grilled pork chops and sausages, with kidneys, and roast potatoes, to be followed by treacle pudding or Spotted Dick, and one of my favourite haunts in The City. No! I ain't missing the flying fish.

1 comment:

Jdid said...

lol, be careful YOU'RE not overweight when you returning on de plane. and I mean you not de bags :-)

seriously though safe trip man