Honeymoon Hiccups by Sue Bavey
The date was September 11th 2001. I was working as a website project manager in a high-tech media company in London, which represented sports personalities and other minor celebrities. There were large TV screens everywhere you looked and today was my last day in the office before my wedding day of 14th September 2001.
I am sure you are aware of the significance of the date...
My colleagues all downed tools and came over to celebrate my upcoming nuptials with champagne corks a-popping. Meanwhile, on the enormous TV screens all around us we slowly began to notice the terrifying events of Sept 11th unfolding and stopped our celebrating to watch open-mouthed in shock. My friend’s parents lived in New York and her father occasionally worked in one of the Twin Towers, so she immediately ran off to try and telephone him, but it took hours before her mind was finally put to rest. None of us could take in and process exactly what we were seeing. We assumed it was a deadly accident.
When we realised that what we had witnessed on the TV screens was indeed no accident, rumours started flying around that London might be the terrorists’ next target and flights due to leave Heathrow were cancelled. Meanwhile I had left the office in something of a haze and boarded a train from Kings Cross, heading to my parental home in Lincoln with thoughts turning to my impending wedding.
Knowing now the extent of the tragedy it may seem self-obsessed of me to be thinking of such things, while so many people had just lost their lives, lost loved ones, had their lives changed forever by the events of that day, but after all this was an extremely important event in my life and my family kept all news reports and speculation of how bad the disaster was from me until well after the wedding. I was blissfully unaware that a minute’s silence was being observed on the morning of the 14th for all those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers and on the planes, while I was having my hair and make-up done and probably chatting away about my much anticipated honeymoon to Maui.
The wedding happily went by without a hitch and much fun was had by all, although I’m sure the conversations on many of our guests’ tables must have turned to terrorism and fear of the unknown threat while we danced and drank champagne, happily oblivious.
Our honeymoon was supposed to have included a few days in New York on the way to Maui. However this was no longer possible. My fiancé, Rob, decided to switch our itinerary so that we had a stopover in Los Angeles instead of New York en route to Maui. Our flight on the 15th September was one of the first to leave Heathrow after the shutdown. We counted our blessings and gingerly climbed aboard the plane. We finally arrived at our hotel in Los Angeles many hours later, jet-lagged and emotionally exhausted, yet ready for a couple of days sight-seeing - but our luggage did not. It continued its journey to Honolulu which was not on our itinerary at all! All of my newly bought honeymoon outfits were off on holiday on their own and I had to buy an I Love LA T-shirt and sundress from the hotel shop, and wear these same clothes for a couple of sweaty days!
When we arrived in Maui our luggage thankfully didn’t take too long to show up. Everywhere we went we were greeted with big smiles, open arms and offers of discounts. Everyone thanked us for being brave enough to travel so soon after September 11th. The resorts were almost empty and we had our pick of restaurants and empty beaches to ourselves.
We had an amazing time strolling along volcanic sand beaches, watching gorgeous sunsets every evening in half empty bars, driving in an open-topped convertible along the Road to Hana - a road full of unbelievable twists and turns which were occasionally very scary! We tried our hands at jet skiing, falling off repeatedly while I convinced myself there were sharks in the water around us. I’m sure the locals had a great laugh watching our ineptitude!
One of the highlights for me was seeing a multitude of tiny geckos on our tables every breakfast time and we also had a fantastically touristy experience at a typical Luau with pig roast, fire dancing and people climbing up trees at a rate of knots to cut down coconuts for their astounded audience.
Eventually the day of our flight home came along. We had a flight late in the day and decided to have a final adventure, driving up to the summit of the island’s dormant volcano, Mt. Haleakalā. Stopping for a bite to eat at some picnic tables along the way we discussed our wonderful holiday and how little we wanted to return to England. The island gods must have been listening to us…
We packed up our things and continued driving on to the summit. Once there, we were lucky enough to see a couple of the famous silversword plants which only grow on the top of Haleakalā and a couple of other places in Hawaii and nowhere else in the world. How fabulous to see them. We congratulated ourselves on our good luck.
With two hours left before we needed to set off for the airport we leant back to enjoy the amazing panoramic view. Then suddenly Rob sat up.
“Where’s the bag?” he said frantically.
“You mean your backpack with the passports and tickets in it?” I replied, starting to panic. Where could it be?
We searched the car - our once errant suitcases were there, behaving themselves so far, and my hand luggage and handbag - but no sign of Rob’s backpack!! Had we left it at the hotel? No, because we’d eaten the food we’d brought with us in the backpack at that little picnic spot at the base of the volcano. Oh. Of course. The little picnic spot. We must have left the backpack behind when we continued on up the volcano. We quickly dashed back down the road, each of us coming up with increasingly ludicrous scenarios for how to cope with losing our passports and tickets.
“There, look!” I said “there’s the picnic spot. Pull in quick!”
There indeed was the picnic spot and luckily our bag was also still there, looking lonely and abandoned! We thanked our lucky stars and also the lack of tourists which may have had a hand in the bag still being where we left it.
You will be relieved to know that we made it to our flight on time and were able to relax and reflect on our wonderful time in Maui.
We are hoping, if Covid allows, to return to Maui in February, this time taking our two teenagers with us. What could possibly go wrong this time? Watch this space...