A couple of weeks ago, I was among a planeload of passengers (90% of which were Guyanese) checked in on a LIAT flight to Guyana. Each one of us was going to Guyana for different reasons. The majority of the passengers, like me, live outside of Guyana and a few were returning home after vacationing and working in other parts of the Caribbean.
Those of us travelling directly from Barbados had checked in mid-morning while those in transit were there from very early in the morning. After three announcements at one-hour intervals of the delay of the flight, we were told that our flight was cancelled. The exasperation (on the part of the passengers) and lack of an established plan of action to deal with such circumstances (on the part of LIAT) could have easily resulted in anger and raised voices. It is telling, that instead, we all looked at each other, resigned, and through our expressions we communicated – what else is new? This is LIAT. As disappointment set in we slowly began to get angry because we were hungry. Hungry for the food we had instructed for family and loved ones to make, order, and sharpened our teeth, to eat in Guyana later that afternoon and evening.
Topping the list of foods were fried Bangamary, Curry, and Chinese food. Some people were more specific – a contractor working in St Kitts was looking forward to dhal, rice, eddo leaf callaloo and bunjal white belly shrimps. Another contractor (working in Tortola) had his mind set on his mother’s Pepperpot. A woman threw up her hands in frustration. “I mek me mudda season de Bangamary since yesterday so I could fry it this afternoon.” She turned to me, “You know duh fish gon be well season?” She continued, “I plan fuh fry it nice and brown and eat it jus suh wid some pepper sauce.” At this point in time we were outside of the arrival hall waiting on transportation to take us to our various destinations, some of us home and others to a hotel. An older woman explained that her daughter had cooked her favourite – split peas Cook-up with beef and salt meat, with fried ripe plantains on the side. “Listen man, y’all shut up and stap talking ‘bout food because I only getting mad hay.” This outburst came from a man who throughout the entire ordeal was very quiet. In obedience, everyone fell silent.
A few people started to think aloud as to what they were going to eat the evening. Someone quipped, “Some Chinese food would go down good.” Unconsciously and in unison a few of us muttered, “Yes!” We were becoming testy at this point. All the passengers of 3 large international flights that had arrived while we were making our way back through immigration had cleared Customs and left the airport. We were left waiting because only taxis that accepted vouchers from LIAT could transport us; the few that did were nowhere in sight. By now we were not only hungry for Guyanese food, we were hungry, period, because we had been at the airport for most of the day and snacking is a placeholder, it is not food. At the end of the second announcement of the flight’s delay I had contemplated getting something to eat but resisted because I did not want to spoil my appetite. I had mommy and my sister cook certain things that I wanted to eat. I do not need to state the obvious, or do I? Curry was obviously one of the things on the menu. Duh.
On the way home from the airport, I was in the same vehicle with the woman who had lamented about the seasoned Bangamary. She announced to all of us in the vehicle that she was going home to cook chicken curry and roti. The man sitting beside her moved in his seat, he leaned away from her and looking at her sideways he ‘cut his eye on her’. I wanted to laugh but I was too busy wishing that my piercing gaze could burn through the back of her head. Such violence! I know!
The night was long. As hungry as I was, I really did not want to eat anything but the food I know my mother and sister had cooked for me. Apart from the deprivation of that night’s food, LIAT had robbed us of a Guyanese breakfast, lunch, and a multitude of snacks and drinks in between meals. I was thirsty for my mother’s homemade Mauby and Banks DIH’s Shandy. While some of us made it to Guyana in time the following day for an afternoon treat and dinner, others had to wait until much later to have a very late supper because their flight to Guyana was via Trinidad, arriving at Timehri instead of Ogle.
While I ate many things in Guyana, I am still thinking of the things I missed out on because of LIAT. I did not get any Black Pudding, Chinese Cake, Vermicelli (pudding/kheer/soft), Tennis rolls, white-belly shrimp curry or Hack’s soft mittai. Not funny at all LIAT! To quote Nigel Hughes, “Better must come!”