Early December on reserve (where I have to “wait by the phone” to be cover a trip that someone else calls in sick/misses departure for) was quite easy. Work was so slow that they actually released me from duty for 5 days in a row! I think I’ve been released two times in my entire career previous to this! Then I was out sick for a few days. And when I returned, ohhhh. They got me good.
I got what is, I believe, the worst trip possible. A four day. Out of NEWARK. In and out of Miami several times. Any of these characteristics = [audible groan] from me. Put them all together and you have a suicidal flight attendant.
It took me almost 3 hours and $30 to take public transport from my NY apartment to Newark airport. Fun start. We flew to Miami and then to Caracas, Venezuela – where we landed at 1am and had an 11 hour layover. Mind you, unloading the passengers, clearing customs, transport to and from the hotel, check-in, and a 1-hour prior to departure report to the airplane…all squeeze into that time slot, along with as much sleep as one can grab.
I have been to Caracas about 5 times before. We used to have very long layovers there downtown. At night the city always looks beautiful, its mountainous terrain blanketed by scattered lamps, like fairy lights. In the morning, you are stunned to see that all of those dwellings were scattered shanty houses, the electricity “stolen” by means I am privileged enough to find exotic. I remember that everything was shockingly expensive, even if one pretended that most of its population didn’t live in such poverty. (A SUBWAY sandwich might cost $12 or so, if I remember correctly.) It was not shocking, however, to hear gunshots on occasion, from somewhere in the distance. Now we stay by the airport and most of the long layovers are gone. Our hotel is nice, with a gorgeous pool at the foot of a hill crowned by 2 pink cinder block “shanty” homes, decorated with lines of perpetually drying laundry.
The next morning we flew from Caracas back to Miami, then to Maracaibo (also Venezuela). Our layover was again 10 or 11 hours. The 3rd day we went back to Miami and on – finally – to a decent 15 hours layover on the island of St. Thomas. Boy, had we earned it!
Most of the islands are all the same to me: three pink or blue hotels, a golf course and some duty free shops. But here, our hotel is a 25 minute can ride through narrow, winding roads over a mountain. I loved getting to see more of the “local” side of the island, even if only in passing. Our rooms all faced the water and I had bought a heavenly sandwich, which I ate on my balcony overlooking the sea, St. Johns and other neighboring islands. Ahh…it felt worth it just then, even if too short. I walked down to the beach and climbed on the rocks in the break, where I stepped on my first sea urchin, due to the tide which was rolling in as a stood there, obstructing the view of my path with swirling, foamy water. All of this made me oddly cheerful.
After that, my 6am morning pickup didn’t seem to bad (though I HAD had enough of my miserable, constant crankpot of a colleague!). We made our way through Miami one last time, then home.
Tomorrow is New Year’s, and I have to sit by the phone again to see if I’m called. I’m not complaining though. The good thing about this trip is that it does make me feel happy and grateful though – just to be sitting here…doing nothing.