The E-Boarding Pass for the flight I missed. A man’s got to do what a mans needs to do, I set out walking to the airport (27.2 KM 5hr 34 mins). I wish I knew then what I now know, it was just too far, but here I am on the highway trying to hitchhike vehicles going in the direction of the airport, but it was more difficult, after all it’s 4 am, who is gonna stop for a random man pulling a suitcase on the road, and can be barely made out. If only they knew my desperation. I kept on walking, as time went. On the other side of the road I noticed a man on a motorcycle saying something to me in Spanish. “Sir not now” I thought to myself.” I kept on walking (and trying to hitch a ride to the airport). Here comes this motorcycle stopping right at my feet, this was the same man who tried making conversation from the other side of the road.
Hurriedly I told him “aeropuerto” he replied in Spanish but at that point I’m hopping on hopefully. Speeding down the highway, this mans hat flies off his head. “What the f..k” I thought to myself. What else could go wrong? Fly high, fly low, I was convinced I’m catching this flight in time. He turns back to get his hat and we’re off again. He slows down as we approach a bus stop. It’s nearing 6 am. My flight is scheduled to take off in less than an hour. He explains that taxi’s from there go close to the airport and so did a lady who spoke a little English confirm. This man didn’t take a cent from me, I’m sure I said thanks over 10 times. Explaining my situation to the lady, she asserts I won’t catch my flight, there’s no way. (Wah she really mean) I started questioning both our sanity cause I’m sure one was insane, and in that moment it wasn’t me. (Well all I know is that logic wasn’t a thing in that moment, for me at least).
Here comes a taxi and I’m closer to the airport than I was a few minutes ago but I’m still short on time and by the time I checked it was boarding time (6:02 am). The taxi made a stop to pick up a few people to my annoyance, but what a timely reminder that the world doesn’t stop to facilitate my emergency. But if I was annoyed I had to think again, because the taxi doesn’t go to the airport. I had to come off again and wait on a Motoconcho. Yes another 10 minutes wait, and then I was on my way to the airport.
The final lap I began to think, still not entertaining the thought of me missing that flight. I deliberately refused to check the time as I got off the Motoconcho and paid the rider (I still don’t know how much I paid him, it may have been more than what was required) but I was more concerned with getting to the ticketing concourse. I see the COPA Airlines counter and bolted to the counter, stepping ahead of everyone in the queue hoping that my flight was either delayed or there was a way I could proceed to check in. Pulled up my electronic boarding pass on my phone for the airline rep, she raises her eyebrows (not looking too good on my end). Then she asks, “do you have luggage? This flight is boarding now..” I was tempted to say no but yes escaped my lips, then the truth escaped hers “I wish I could help you out but there’s nothing I can do, especially since you have to check luggage”
“I have to get home today” I asserted “I have no more money, please” I desperately begged”
“Sir I’m really sorry” for a second I felt I was in a dream and this is not real, there’s no way this was happening. This only happens in movies.
I got a wi-fi connection illegally (don’t ask) and began contacting people back home, in tears. No one was awake, It had only been minutes after 5 am on a Sunday morning in Jamaica. A million thoughts ran through my head, but the one that stung the most was the fact that my insurance didn’t cover missing my flight as a fault of my own. I gave up and sat against the wall until I knocked out. (It had been a long night, a long journey to the airport and a long 3 weeks. I was tired, mentally and emotionally).
By the time I woke it was almost midday. “Oh shit I’m still here” and I felt the tears again but this was no time to cry. It was time to think on my feet. How soon was I going to get home? I had only 9 days legally in the country, before my allotted 30 days on the tourist card would’ve lapsed. But I went to the counter trying to find out when the next flights on my ticket were leaving. There was two; one the following morning and another days after, but they were both full. The only available seats were on the flight that was all of 7 days after. Another week in the DR? I’m pretty sure that’s what I needed. More expenses. Missing my flight had already cost me a 100 USD penalty. Where was I going to stay? I found and booked a guesthouse closer to the airport but still wasn’t within walking distance (well it was but I was not going to walk for 2 hours at that time of day, and certainly not after all that walking earlier in the morning). I was never more eager to go home like how eager and desperate I was to get home while standing in that airport.
Oh I see a group of tourist police and a brilliant idea came to mind. Maybe they would feel sorry for me and take me to the guesthouse, but I shot myself in the foot instead. I explained my situation to them, all truth, that I had no money and I needed to get to this location, hoping they’d pity me, but Lol. “You’re going to have to stay in the airport until Saturday morning” (da man ya clearly Neva hear wah him just seh).
Well he was serious and he had me trailing his shadow like a prisoner. After a few minutes I started to get really impatient and frustrated, annoyed, pissed, you name it. I had to ask to use the bathroom. Yea, for a brief moment I felt like a prisoner. I saw another tourist police who looked familiar from the group I explained my situation to, and she gave me a resolve. She spoke to a taxi driver she was familiar with, who agreed to take me to the guesthouse and I’d pay him when I got money (lol whenever that was going to be).
I managed to escape staying in the airport for the entire week (still nuh think da man deh did understand wah him seh cause…..) So we head back and she explains the solution to her colleagues; they agree and I’m on my way. Problem number 150: this taxi man doesn’t know where to find this guesthouse. The MapsMe app comes in handy but my phone was on maybe 7%. That was not helping and my phone eventually dies, and so do I. Well I fell asleep. (We were both tired after all). I woke to this driver still trying to locate where the guesthouse is located whilst being frustrated at my sleeping and no helping I’m sure; but he made it seem he was just frustrated at him not being able to find it.
We find it. I’m crying again! I don’t know what for but I am. Oh the reality hit me again! Additional expenses that I don’t have. Well I’m a bit lucky again, the taxi driver explains my situation to the owner. (The lie was that I was gonna get money sent to me from home at some point this week, from who? I don’t know, but I had to tell him something.)
So I have over $180 USD in expenses to pay; the penalty for missing my flight, the guesthouse stay for the 5 nights and the taxi driver. Wait, did we count food? Well I had done made up my mind to starve. I knock out shortly after getting to my room. I wake at 7 pm to over 10 messages including one from mom. “How was your flight back home?” I smiled to myself but it was really tears, I promise. I was crying inside. I tell her I missed my flight but I have it under control and she needs not to worry. (Did I really? Not in the least, but I had to tell her something). Just not the truth cause the last thing I needed was her going off. (I hope she doesn’t read this, but if you are, Hi!) I manage to get some funds in my account from a friend (thanks Orane) and I got fruits and two big bottles of water to last me all week).
The other messages started to come in “are you home?” I ignored them all, who needs reminders that I’m not, certainly not me. It was hard to say it at first because up to that point I hadn’t gotten over it. ( I still haven’t either) but anyway. Thanks to the help of my pastor who was greatly concerned, and Chevaughn who both helped me to settle the bill with the guesthouse, pay the penalty for missing my flight, and for a taxi to the airport, (and that taxi driver who took me from the airport to the guesthouse came for his money the day before I left, and he took less than the initial asking price). I slept on both flights and woke in time for the landing in Jamaica, tears again. I’m home. I’m home. (Mi deh a mi yaad). I was just so happy. I was in a good mood. A great mood actually. Smelling Jamaican air, hearing familiar language. Seeing Jamaicans. I felt good. I felt like I was out of prison (literally).
In the end it all worked out how it was supposed to (though I’m still not quite over it- won’t be for now either). I got two pieces of souvenir for free during my last week from a lady; a nice mug and male tank t-shirt.
Dominican Republic you painted many grimaces on my face and left dried tear streaks down my cheeks, but all in all you were good to me, despite the curse. You’ll see me again soon. A wiser me. First experience as a travel writer was in many was so unpleasant but I’m reminded that I’m not on vacation, this is my job. From this one trip that felt like 10, there were many lessons all of which I’m thankful for. I wouldn’t trade the experiences for all I’ve learnt. I look forward to the next adventures. (Still not over missing my flight. But I will. I promise I’ll get over it by the next post)