Monday, March 16, 2015

Entertaining the Norskies

We’ve just had our Norskies (son and granddaughters) here for a couple of weeks, and very nice too. The exit was not so pleasant, because of our local Airport Management’s policy of pissing all over people who schedule their departures on Saturdays and Sundays. What a shambles it was last weekend.

It reminded me of Athens airport in 1976 when I met my Mum off the plane from Australia. Poor Mum thought she’d died and gone to hell. Passengers and greeters and farewellers in mobs; cases and packages strewn around getting trampled underfoot by goats and camels and who knows what-all. It was like wandering in the wake of an earthquake. Being trapped in the middle of a thousand milling sheep back on the farm was much less dusty and disorganized, she reckoned.

It was like that on Saturday at our international airport. Two (count ‘em!) airline ground-staff were on hand to guide five or six hundred milling sheep (as it were…) to their respective check-in desks as well as the TSA security line that stretched the entire length of the building both inside and outside. For the record, the two ground-staff were employed by Jet Blue and Delta.

Nobody from American that I could see, nobody from United, nobody from Cayman Airways. Shame on the absentees: credit to the unflappable reps from the two good guys. What a slap in the face to all the tourists and businessmen whose last impression of Cayman was of Third World incompetence.

Except for the departure shambles, it was a super holiday for our family. Linda took time off from her part-time job, and swam with the girls every morning at the little cove down the road. Ross and I did it a couple of times with them, but we were poor substitutes. The girls adore their father, and tolerate me; but Mamma Linda is the main attraction in all circumstances. She cooks with them and takes them up to the Turtle Farm and the Dolphin place, and the Agricultural Fair, and even a tennis knock-around on a friend’s court on the south side.

She it was who dug out the Scrabble and the Boggle, and taught them all the English words and spellings. Ross and I gave an exhibition of Championship Monopoly (Ross’s World Championship appearance was the subject of my January 2013 blog Monopoly Money). Fortunately, the younger one is old enough now not to mind getting thrashed in table games.

The highlight of the vacation was a one-day “resort course” Scuba lesson. For one day back in 1993 Ross would have been the youngest PADI instructor in the world, and he has never lost his teaching skills. But after leaving Cayman he let his insurance lapse, and without a current card he can’t rent tanks and equipment for others. So he wore Linda’s gear and watched a young professional diver give the lesson.

He (Ross) never seriously considered making a career as an instructor. Piloting our local tourist submarines was the closest he ever came to an underwater career. Above my chair as I write this is a head-on photograph he took of a turtle in the wild when he was thirteen. He’s quite proud of that, but only in a “been there, done that” kind of way. Linda and I would never part with it.

The girls take their father at face value, the way kids do. His exotic history is only half-listened-to, when we refer to it. Maybe it’s a bit too exotic to appreciate, for youngsters raised in the protective custody of a Scandinavian welfare-state. The older girl has had her own exotic adventures – Mayan minders in Guatemala and Peru, and the tropical diseases associated with a hippy lifestyle in those parts – but they are lost in the mists of toddlerhood.

There aren’t many opportunities for Scuba divers in Norway’s frozen waters besides the offshore oil wells. But - who knows? The lesson here in Cayman may have given our two the taste for more diving – and maybe, even, the taste for a life in places without frozen waters, one day.