A gentle sea breeze tickled my toes as the airborne salted mist floated onto our veranda. Margaret brought me an iced glass of guava juice, and I tilted my head back for my daily nap. My semi continuousness was interrupted by the ringing of our phone. Margaret answered; and once again my heavy eyes overtook me and peaceful trance became my being.
“Charles, wake up. Monique is on the phone from Paris.” Our daughter was living and working in the French capital. A call from her was not unusual but it did cause some joy around our small home in Sint-Maarten.
Margaret handed me the cordless phone. “Monique, how are you honey?” The satellite phone echoed and feed back reverberated thought the hand piece.
“Daddy, are you following the news?”
“I try not to sweetie, I’m retired now,” I chuckled and waited for her delayed reply.
“They are arresting priests and protestant ministers, and I understand all of the rabbis have fled the country.” There was plaintive cry in her voice.
“Who is? Monique, what is going on up there?” My daughter often poised events in the most dramatic form. “Governments are reactionary, this too shall pass.”
“Daddy, you know what is happening in Britain, well, it is getting bad here, and I understand that the States are all but gone.”
“Monique, we listen to the radio and watch the news, it’s just politics, talk to some of the university folks. The world is just shrugging a little.”
“Oooh daddy, I’m really getting scared, I’m going to Strasbourg to stay with Charlotte, I told you about her. She invited me, and the university is closed anyway, so-” The connection disconected.
“Darn, satellite phones.”
Margaret reached for the phone. “Well, what is she in a huff about this week?”
“I think she is just getting spooked by all the bombings and terrorist activities, and for sure watching too much tabloid news. She thinks the French government is going to give in to the terrorists like some other nations have.”
“Well, that’s an understatement.” I laughed, “But, she is going to visit a friend for a few days, maybe that will settle her mind.” I wish I had told Monique to come to Sint Maarten for a week.
“Charles, I have been thinking. Maybe we should go to Virginia pretty soon, just to check on things.”
“Well, I had thought we would go up there and close up the house for the winter, see some folks, you know, before we come back here and hibernate.” I sipped my guava and tried to image all the things I would rather do than closing up a house – our annual chore.
“Great, maybe we can get out next week, I’ll call the airline.” Margaret took the phone and headed for the kitchen.
The week flew by and early the next Tuesday morning we arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the island. I retrieved our bags and tipped the taxi driver. The Airport was unusually quiet for a Tuesday morning, but I attributed it to the lull before the northern holiday rush.
We stepped up to the gate check in area and handed over our passports. I owned both a U.S. passport and a French passport. In my previous career, I found it much easier to travel with the French passport, and since we were residents of a French colony, it was all quite legal. Margaret however, still used her U.S. Passport. I handed both of our passports to the agent - mine French, hers U.S..
The agent looked at both of our passports, then an armed guard approached Margaret. I guessed it was for the rudimentary search.
Margaret turned and winked at me. “Last time, they confiscated my extra bottle of water.” She disappeared behind a screen.
The agent stamped my passport then motioned me to the metal detector. Another guard took my passport and examined it closely as my carry-on bag went through the metal screening device.
Suddenly an iron mesh gateway swung across the entrance to the passenger entrance.
“Sir,” I protested to the guard in English, “My wife is still at the inspection station. I need to wait for her.”
Another door sealed us off from the rest of the airport.
The guard handed me my French passport, then said sternly, “the airport is closed.”
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