The Elevation Of An Island Arrival

For all the tongue-in-cheek complaining I do about life on a rock (sort of the point of this blog, actually … but hey, there’s a lot of absurdity to cover on the daily), I’d rather live no place else.

Why? Because there are so many funny things that happen on a tiny Caribbean island you just cannot experience in other places.

Roadie in the cup holder (without fear of being arrested for DUI)? Of course. After all, it’s critical to stay hydrated, plus alcohol is a natural mosquito repellent (or so I want to believe).

Perfectly acceptable to appear in public sans make-up and with your hair in any state (except styled and polished)? Hello, five minute morning prep ritual, you are my BFF. For life.

Driving a less-than-new vehicle? The more beat up, the better. Because, trust me, if it isn’t dinged, scratched and suffering from a squeaky suspension when you buy it, it certainly will be after a few months of traversing the crater-filled roads of a Caribbean rock.

The humble roadie…an island essential.

These are all great benefits to island life, to be sure. But there is one that rocks the rock even more (at least mine). One that has elevated itself to almost legendary status. One that, depending on the subject matter, can be simple or extravagant. Dignified or full of debauchery.

It is the humble airport arrival. Transformed, island style.

Undoubtedly due to our sequestered nature in the middle of vast bodies of water, islanders get more excited than most about the pending arrival of family or friends, especially those we haven’t seen for some time. Well, at least those we like. (There is another post inside me that I will write someday about the obligatory visits we suffer through…but this is not that day.)

So it is not surprising that we want to greet our favorite guests with fanfare and a touch of dramatic flair that makes them feel extra special. Especially if they’re muling something from the homeland that you just can’t get on your rock (like McDonalds).

And the coolest part about living on a tiny rock, with an even tinier airport, is that we can do this. We can plan elaborate arrival rituals to suit the occasion. We can get away with things that would get you arrested at Sea-Tac or Schiphol. Or pretty much anywhere there are too many rules and too many people.

And so it was recently. It was with mega anticipation I was waiting for the arrival of my friend Riselle, a fellow Women Who Live on Rocks writer and blogger I met in Puerto Rico on a recent writing retreat. She was visiting family on a neighboring island and I was like, bitch (in a nice way), you cannot be 20 miles away from me and not island hop over. Those magnums of rosé at the beach bar aren’t going to drink themselves, are they?

So she said yes, and I gathered my posse of favorite island girls for a traditional island-style airport greeting for someone you like. A lot.

Just try a prosecco welcome party here. I don’t think so.

This included one hastily made welcome sign, as many Hawaiian leis as I could get my hands on, several bottles of prosecco chilling in a cooler and Despacito waiting to be blasted from my truck’s speakers (don’t judge…the song has relevance to the Puerto Rico trip). Oh, and a random new friend we made along the way. (That tends to happen on an island…especially when there’s prosecco involved.)

It also included the necessity of parking in the loading/unloading only zone at the airport. Which could have been a problem, but was not because…we live on a tiny rock. And while we are gaining rules here faster than a Corgi devours kibble, those rules haven’t yet included draconian enforcement of the “this zone is for active loading & unloading only” that exists at pretty much every major airport. (Obviously, tiny airports on tiny rocks don’t face quite the same security threats, which is also why living here is so nice.)

In fact, I didn’t actually think twice when I arrived, parked in the middle of the sacred zone, hopped out and strolled toward the airport bar with Island Girl #2, my usual partner in rock shenanigans. I mean, we had a few minutes before the plane arrived, so why not start Sunday Funday with a cocktail in air conditioned comfort, right? Multitasking, island style.

No biggie. Except for the security guard who stopped us just as the sliding doors to the oasis of mimosas and chilled air slid open.

Security Guard: Hi ladies, where are you going? (He was smiling broadly…a good sign.)

Me: Oh, hi! (sing-songy voice) We’re here to meet the XYZ flight, our friend is on it (TMI…TMI…TMI).

Security Guard: (Pointing to my SUV clearly in the no-parking zone) You can’t park there.

Me: Oh, I know. (Really, Liz? Admitting guilt from the get go? Not even feigning ignorance? What happened to the lawyer in you?) But we’re not really parking. (Huh? Really?) We’re just waiting to do a special arrival celebration for our friend, with signs and music and prosecco, and it won’t be as dramatic if we park in the designated spots. (Again…TMI…but I have a weird fear of authority that makes me nervous.)

Then, to ensure maximum success of our plan, I broke out the big guns. I gave Mr. Security Guard the special, 1,000 watt smile. The one I reserve for only those times when I really, really, really want something.

Which, thankfully even at my “mature” age, seemed to work, because Mr. Security Guard laughed, nodded and we were on our way. SUV still parked exactly where I needed it for maximum arrival impact.

The prosecco party eventually moved on to the beach bar.

Two mimosas later, Ris’s tiny puddle jumper landed and we headed back out to my truck to implement the Full Arrival Ritual. By that time, a few more Island Girls had arrived (and also parked their cars in the loading area) and it was full-on, arrival party mode. Music, prosecco, laughing, hugs and more prosecco. Which carried on long enough to deplete the full prosecco supply. Which happened to coincide with Mr. Security Guard strolling over to very nicely suggest we really had to be moving along. Which was fine, because it was time to head to the beach bar anyway.

So a huge thank you to Mr. Security Guard who graciously allowed us to have our Island Girl welcome party for a sister from another rock. It was crazy and fun and exactly how you imagine an arrival at a small airport on a tiny rock should happen*. At least for those extra special occasions.

And also an amazing reminder of why living on a rock really is special. I 💙 island life.

* (If you visit me, now you know how to gauge my affection for you. If I show up at the airport empty-handed … well … it will probably be a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g, awkward stay. For both of us.)

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I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.

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