This week I’m on location in St. Maarten. Fancy, no? I’m here on my day job, which has me assisting my employers about the island. So far this is not like any place I’ve ever been before. It’s been difficult getting a good idea of how people here live because “¦ well “¦ my employers are rather wealthy and I’m surrounded on all sides by Disneyland for adults: high-rise timeshares, casinos and cabana bars. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not bitching about the free trip or luxury accommodations, but it is incredibly difficult to get a sense of the island’s culture when I’m stuck smack dab in the middle of a local-free void.
Which is, why later this week I will be exploring that. But I’ve only been here for two days so we’re not going to pretend I know shit about the subject and go a bit lighter today: Ridiculous dreams! Ever have one? Something that you’ve always wanted to do but tends to get a lot of shrugs and “meh”s from your circle? Yeah, me too.
My name is Olivia. I am an aviation nerd. Go ahead, ask me about extending flaps, the 747 vs. the A380 or 767 vs the A330. I will talk longer than you want me to listing off the pros, cons, triumphs, disasters avoided, and disasters realized. I’m the lady who instead of saying, “Oh I heard that DC-10s have a bad reputation,” will say, “I don’t like the DC-10 because to save money they have a outward opening cargo door whose locks failed more than once causing explosive decompression and some incredibly deadly accidents. Then on top of that, they didn’t double up on redundancy and install shut-off valves for hydraulics, creating further safety issues. It wasn’t until over 400 people died that they fixed these problems. And don’t even get me started on the ugly design.” If you give me the slightest indication you care at all I’ll go on to tell you about how the cargo doors on a 737 differ in comparison. Yeah. Don’t push me. I swear I’ll do it.
Naturally, given all this enthusiasm about flying tubes, it’s no surprise that I have been creating a list of all the tubes I’ve ever flown on. Also, airports flown into. Most airport landings are boring. However there are a few notable exceptions. The descent into Seattle is incredibly beautiful during sunset and Belize City usually has some insane turbulence on the way down. But these all look like child’s play when compared to the descent into St. Maarten. So you can imagine my nerd-squee when this week, I not only got to fly on an Airbus A340-300 (my first time ever!) but it’s descent was into Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten. For those that do not know, it goes a little something like this:
Yeah! I did that, in an airplane just like that. The AirFrance A340. And nobody is excited for me. I am exited. I’ve told everybody. And all I’ve gotten is a “”¦Well, that’s “¦ nice,” in response. Ridiculous. The fact that I got to experience this was awesome. And it is crazy from the air. You get so low over the water that you can look down to the bottom and as you pass over the beach, you could read (if you were going slower) the brand of sunblock sitting out on tables. I am heading to Moha Beach tomorrow – this is the famed beach next to the airport – and I am going to sit there for hours, slathering on sunblock and taking pictures of planes. Quite possibly starting boring, nerdy conversations with nearby boys who will only nod along because I have boobs. But ain’t nothin’ gonna hold me down. I am psyched up and ready to go, nerdiness be damned.