A lot of flying would take place on this day, starting out from Belem, which we were all happy to leave and heading northwest along the coast of Brazil to our first stop which was at Georgetown, Guyana. We passed over the country of Suriname on the way. Suriname is the only Dutch-speaking region in the Western Hemisphere that is not a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Georgetown is the capital and largest city of Guyana and it is situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Nicknamed the “Garden City”, Georgetown would be our launching point into the Caribbean. Now that we were out of Brazil the fuel prices began to get better.
The flight to St. Marteen — about 185 miles east of Puerto Rico — was over the ocean but never far from an island — hundreds of them. Think of all the famous vacation spots and we flew over all of them. There have also been some famous movies and pictures of very large airplanes landing just barely above the beach at St. Maarten. Our landing was not that dramatic but it was a beautiful sight to see and Captain Bill greased the Phenom onto the runway as usual. The best part about St. Maarten was the fuel price — $2.55 per gallon, less than half of what we paid in Brazil.
Taking off over the beach we headed straight for Florida 41,000 feet. It was hard to make out which island was which but the Bahamas were down there for sure. We landed in Ft. Lauderdale early in the evening and began the import, immigration, and customs processes. The customs agent looked the plane over but much to our surprise he did not go aboard and inspect. Once inside an agent requested passports and asked if anyone had a visa. Our friend and Brazilian pilot, Captain Rafael Silva did and after presenting it he was accosted by a highly uninformed, rude, and antagonistic customs agent. There was something the agent did not like about the documentation and he berated Rafael for no reason and threatened him with fines and delays. I was so thankful to be back in America but highly embarrassed that such a crude person wore a uniform of the U.S. Government. The despicable treatment put a chill on the thrill of being back home. After the rants were over we loaded our bags into the Hilton van and headed to the hotel. We celebrated the return to the U.S. at the Crab Shack and introduced Rafael to something they don’t have in Brazil — Keywest Conch chowder.
Tomorrow’s posting will be a summary of the trip. Stay tuned.