January 29 2013
Anyway, we get back to the resort after our day of Adventure! and for the first time we turn on the WIFI to email complain to our travel agent about everything that has gone wrong. The wife is all typety, type type all banging on the keys and stuff. Send.
We spray ourselves down with Off! and head to dinner to eat vanilla fish and drink Beringer wine. Pouring rain outside. We start to discuss the idea of going home early. Ending the trip. We still had a few days left but it seemed ridiculous. And too expensive to sit in a fancy hut in the rain and watch Lost just out of spite.
In the morning, we have a back and forth with the properly apologetic travel agent. She offers to fly us to Mexico or Hawaii but we tell her we just want to go home. New York please. She arranges a flight late afternoon from Raiatea to start the massive slog of 24 hours of travel. Raiatea to Papeete to LA to NYC.
We sadly/happily go to our last breakfast. See our hobbled bird ‘Crutchie’. Talk our same waitress who has called me by the name “Tave” for days. We eat the same stuff. Listen to the same mind numbing music. Stare at the same morning rain. It was a sad breakfast. It was official. The honeymoon was kind of over. We burned through so much money and didn’t even have tans. I hadn’t even drank from a friggin coconut.
We say goodbye to the breakfast people and wander back to the hut to pack up. We feed our fish friends some goodbye bread. I steal a handtowel as a reminder of the hut. And we pack our bags which are picked up by someone in a bicycle with a cart. They’re pedaled away in the pouring rain. Sogging up our luggage. We sign our bill. Say more goodbyes. They throw shell necklaces around our necks — and we get on the boat. Back again to Raiatea.
It was a relief to see our resort disappearing behind us. Although we made the most of it, and we it was all fun in its weirdness and rain– but we had been defeated. Wash out. Time to go home. I was a little excited… I missed the dogs.
Bumpy seas. Back to the airstrip airport to get on a propeller plane. The first flight of three. We go to check in and the woman behind the counter tells us we don’t have confirmed seats. (huh?) We’re only on standby. (Stand-by?!) These aren’t big planes. We were told confirmed! We had connecting flights! I delicately try to manipulate the situation. To feel out if this is a serious stand-by or a ‘everyone gets on eventually’ stand by or is this a “me being extra nice and tugging sympathy out of the counter person then I get on the plane” type stand-by.
It was a serious standby. Not only was this flight super sold out. But so was the next flight. And the last flight of the day... And then she coldly tells us that all flights are also sold out for the next two days too!! She wasn’t apologetic or sympathetic about it. Almost with a smirk.
The wife panicks and says, “No. No! You don’t understand. We have to get the hell outta here.. We have to get outta here!!” It was totally a Brokedown Palace style of imprisoned female desperation. I backed her off before the wife grabbed the woman by the front of her shirt and pulled her close so she could say it again. Nose to nose.
I sat the wife down (she stared out into space for like the next hour). We had about $230 with us. I told the guy behind the counter that I have a standing offer to any traveler. $230 for two seats. Cash. I wandered around and tried bribe people at the airport. $230? Two tickets. Nobody wanted to give up their seats. Not for $230. There was no ATM. No way to get any more than that.
I tried bribing the guy behind the counter. He barely spoke english so I kind of put the bribe on the nose. I was like, ‘I. Me. Give you. You. Two hundred thirty american dollars. For two seats. Extra. You get $230. Fee. Free. For you.’ I think he understood but I could see in his eyes– this wasn’t like America where bribes usually work. This was an honest place that legit had no seats on any plane.
The wife sat stone faced in disbelief as she watched me flail around the airport waving $230 in the air like I was trying to hail a cab or a stripper. But our plane takes off without us. Off until the dark rainy terrifying clouds. We crushed we weren’t lucky enough to be passengers.
We wait standby for the next one. I try to bribe the new batch of travelers. I try to beg. But it’s booked. That one too soon takes off. Without us.
Now it’s now like 7pm at night. We’ve been at this nowhere airport all day (the same airport where the wife cried at just one day prior). There’s one more flight at like 8pm. Bribing was futile though. There was like a soccer team of kids waiting for the next flight. No flexibility there. No takers. It became real. We actually weren’t going home. We’d definitely missed all the connecting flights so the whole thing could turn into a bigger mess anyway.
It was over. We stunningly hadn’t gotten on any plane. The glimmer of hope was snatched away by cruel circumstance. Just like Brokedown Palace. Tahitian court found us guilty of trying to escape. Sentenced to three more days. We called the hotel to arrange for the boat to come get us…
The only bright spot of the situation was that it was raining so friggin hard that I was actually nervous to fly. It was like a pounding wall of rain outside. So at least, we weren’t flying on some prop plane in a thick storm. Seemed like the type of plane where the pilots wear goggles and yell all the commands.
The boatman greeted us again with a big hello. We dragged our soggy sorry luggage up on the boat. And headed back to the resort– feeling like we were about to do some hard time…