When Marissa first saw the small airplane that would take us from St. Martin to St. Barth, she started to shake her head. “Can’t we take the boat,” she said. “I’m over flying to St. Barth.”
“It’s too late for that,” I told her and then helped my then 20-weeks-pregnant wife up into the small cabin.
We sat behind the two pilots, who cross-checked all of the necessary components and dials and lights before take-off. Marissa shook her head. The engine started. Marissa pulled out the paper fan that was shoved into the seat back in front of her. When our wheels pulled away from the ground, she closed her eyes as if to prevent the tears from spilling out and then opened up the paper vomit bag.
“Stop shooting pictures,” she warned me, holding in the hysterics.
“Babe, this is our babymoon. Everything is going to be fine. You have to calm down. This can’t be good for the baby.”
“This,” she said, referring to the plane and the flight itself, rather than the stress she was transmitting into our fetus’s cockpit, “can’t be good for the baby.”
“Everything’s fine,” I told her again as the fifteen-minute flight over turquoise waters was more than half way through.
But then the pilots had the plane aimed at a pair of peaks.
Why the hell are they going straight for those cliffs? I wondered. But, at what felt like the final second or two of life, the pilots narrowly cleared the grim cliffs, dive-bombed the craft toward the short runway, and leveled out, bringing the airplane to a stop about fifteen meters from the sea.
We went through customs in about four seconds, where the most polite agent spent more time greeting us and thanking us for visiting the island than he did examining our travel documents.
Marissa did not want the next three days to end. But they eventually did.
On the flight home from St. Barth, we didn’t enter through any Full Body Scanners. We didn’t even walk through a metal detector. We sipped our bottled water in front of the Caribbean equivalent of a TSA agent, who ushered us quickly into the waiting area without forcing us to throw out our 4-plus ounces of liquid. Even our misspelled middle names were overlooked. I loved flying from St. Barth.
But for Marissa, it was the worst experience ever, as she already knew what was in store for her and our unborn child. Marissa walked over to the window to study the small plane that would take us back to St. Martin (where we would have to go through metal detectors, toss our waters, and make certain that every i and t of our names was dotted and crossed, respectively).
“I don’t want to get back on that plane,” she said.
“That’s the only way to get home,” I told her.
“I’d rather put on the SeaWalker helmet“–something that we had done in Bali, which Marissa had tried and then panicked at the bottom of the ocean, abandoning the rest of the experience to sit on the boat above–”and walk back to St. Martin.”