Sat 2008-01-05 23:00 (ISC, photo)

Left home at 5:30am after two hours of sleep, arrived to Skat about 22 hours later, 10:30pm local time.

First stop was London Gatwick, nothing special there, only a funny announcement: “XY, please proceed to gate Z, where your mother has boraded the aircraft”, and a couple of minutes later, “XY, please go to gate Z, your mother is waiting for you.”

Then came the 8 hour 40 minute long, economy class flight to Antigua, which wasn’t as terrible as I expected, so I managed to sleep through most of it. I also watched the second half of some action movie. This is the plane after landing:

The infrastructure there is not very sophisticated, people just walk from the plane to the terminal. Anyway, this is where the fun began…

I did not get a boarding pass in Budapest for the next flight, so I had to go through immigration, filling forms and all, just to get to the check-in desk. I had an e-ticket for a Windward airways flight WM 0350, leaving at 19:20 to Saint Martin. A nice lady, after looking at my passport and at the computer for a couple of minutes, wrote me a boarding pass by hand to a Winair flight WM 2352, leaving at 19:10 to Saint Martin. At least the destination matched. (Later it turned out that Windward and Winair are the same company.)

This is the check-in area. They like to keep things simple:

With the boarding pass in my hand, I had to go through border control again to get to the departure terminal. The officer looks at my boarding pass and asks “Who wrote this up?” Trying not to laugh, I told her “someone at check-in”, so she leaves for a minute, then comes back and says “OK, you can go through.”

Caribbean people don’t like to overcomplicate things. The terminal is just a bunch of shops, a bar and five gates. There is no info screen whatsoever, only announcements every now and then, in an incomprehensible accent. Note the high security measures separating the checked and unchecked areas.

The flight left an hour late, but there was no info about this either. We just waited there, seeing another flight leaving to Saint Martin, causing some confusion whether it’s ours or not. 20 minutes after the scheduled departure, I asked an officer about what’s going on; she just waved her hand and said “it’s OK.” Everybody but me seemed to think this is all normal, so I stopped worrying too.

It was quite a flash to see the aircraft for this flight, a DHC-6-300, with two propellers, flying low, carrying 20 people at most. Funniest flight ever. Here’s the interior as seen from my seat:

After the 50 minute flight, we landed in Saint Martin, walked out to the terminal, only to find a huge load of passengers, arriving from Canada, flooding the immigration desks.

After 45 minutes of waiting, I got through immigration. Two guys from Skat picked me up, and took me to the boat by tender. As an appropriate ending for this trip, it rained, so we got there completely wet.

I hope the work we do here will worth the hassle…