Tue. Jul. 19th, 2005
Lambert -> San Juan -> Home
Woke up before dawn. We were a little worried about the taxi being on Island
Time and us missing our flight, so we'd asked for it a little earlier than we
The electricity had come back on during the night, we'd gotten up to switch off
the AC, so we knew it had started working again. This was good news as trying
to check the room for left items would have been tricky in candle light.
Once we'd managed to get everything safely tucked into the bags we turned out
the light and crept across the walks towards the front entrance to wait for the
taxi. We'd noticed a nice patio area in the front where we figure we could sit
on the benches and wait comfortably. That didn't work too well. Luckily for
all the guy who was sleeping on the bench snored loudly or we might have sat on
him in the dark. I'm not certain if he was a night watchman or some other
employee or what. We had thought there would be a mail slot for us to drop the
key in but no such luck. Luckily the door had warped and wasn't fitting well so
Len was able to slide the key under the door.
Since the waiting area was already in use we elected to wait in the driveway.
We heard the taxi coming down the road before we saw it, and were glad as he was
right on time. We talked with him on the drive to the airport. He'd been to
the Midwest part of the US, and was asking about San Francisco. On the way we
stopped and picked up a few other people on the way to work. One was a Customs
inspector for the airport.
We were thinking we'd have to kill time before our flight left, but it was lucky
we'd arrived early. There was a long line forming at the counter for AA and
mostly because they had canceled the morning flight out. We kept an eye out
for Jim as we knew he was going to be flying out that morning as well. Once
we'd gotten the ticket stuff squared away he told us to pop out to the parking
lot and look in the back of the car.
In there we found a pot of coffee, 2 mugs, sugar and a ziplock baggie with
apples, bottled water and a chocolate bar. Real Coffee!! If I hadn't already
been married I'd have married him on the spot. Just as we were finishing up the
coffee along came another one of those banded storms that dropped about 3 inches
of rain in 5 mins, nearly flooding out the parking lot. We just made it to
cover before we were totally drenched.
In the BVI there is a $10 per person departure tax. Most places this is added
into the ticket price, but in Tortola you pay it at a special window before you
go into the secured waiting room area.
Jim's flight left about 30 mins before ours, and then they walked us across the
tarmac and into the little prop plane. The really nice thing about these planes is you
can get some nice pictures out the windows, aside from that whole prop-shot problem.
We landed in San Juan Puerto Rico in about 45 mins, and had to clear immigration and
customs. They have a nice big area to collect your bags and then proceed to the
officer to have your passport scanned. I remembered Adri being disappoint when her
passport wasn't stamped coming back in, and I asked about it as I don't have an entry
for Puerto Rico in mine. He explained they will stamp if you ask, but that the stamp
has no value. It still has to be scanned, but so many people had been disappointed
when they stopped they decided to do it on request.
From there you carry your bag up and it has to be scanned before you can have it loaded
on the plane. The way they do this is that you leave it in a hallway with a pile of
other luggage and they scan it when they get around to it. Not much security, I
probably could have walked away with another bag had I wanted.
Here is where I STRONGLY recommend you have a cable tie to "lock" your bag.
At least then
its obvious someone has been into it and they're required to leave a notice when its
an official inspection. When we got home we found Lens FM/auto adapter for his ipod
and several cables for it as well as his ipod dock, and the charger for my digital
camera. In my bag they'd found the
Belkin adapter so I can transfer pics from my CF camera card to the ipod. I guess they
didn't know what it was as, aside from opening up all the compartments and stealing the
batteries, they left it alone.
I later read that San Juan has the highest theft rate of any airport in the world,
nearly 50%, and I'd have to believe it. So now we know, All carry on both ways, or
make certain the valuables stay on us. I frequently pack my camera since in most cases
there's nothing worth taking pictures of, and I'm really glad this time I had it with
me. I'd have been miserable to have lost my pics since we didn't bring a laptop this
We found our gate only to be informed they had no record of us being booked on that
flight. Same thing happened to another family, and a 3rd couple. So we all had to
wait to see if there would be room on the plane for us. At the last second there was,
so we made it to Miami in time to catch the connecting flight to SFO.
Made it home on time, and BARTed back out to Concord. We were getting off the train
and figuring out where to snag a cab when we heard Adri call out. She'd been over at
the house and had noted our flight tracking said we'd landed on time. She calculated
which train we were most likely to be on, so swung by the station on her way home just
in case. Worked out really well. We had a ride home AND someone to force all of our
vacation pictures on.