Some might say that working directly with your spouse is difficult to deal with. I admit that in some situations, that could probably be true. I, as a West Point Band member (saxophonist in the Jazz Knights), can honestly say that I’m excited to work with my new wife, Carla Moebius Loy Song, who is a trumpet player and singer in the West Point Band.
We got engaged this past December and married on October 20th in front of a modest gathering of friends and family from 15 states! So…what usually follows a wedding? Yes, a honeymoon. For us, it was a honeymoon to Jamaica with a week stay at an all-inclusive resort. The wedding went near perfectly followed by a “rest” day in between before we made our way to a hotel in Jamaica (ironically), Queens just outside of JFK Airport. We landed in Jamaica (the country) on Monday morning and settled into our resort and all was well…tropical weather, the beach, and an abundance of great food and drinks.
Then, we got news that a hurricane was developing and due to come straight through Jamaica and make landfall by midday Wednesday. On Tuesday, the resort informed us that they would be opening the buffet for breakfast on Wednesday morning and shutting everything down at noon. Safety was their number one concern, and we were told to stay in our rooms from noon on and ride it out. Well, the storm completely missed us in the western most part of Jamaica; giving way to a little rain and wind resulting in some downed branches (Sandy hit Jamaica a lot harder to our east along with Cuba and the Bahamas).
Everyone wandered out of their rooms at dinnertime, as the facilities began to re-open much earlier than expected. Then, for the remainder of our vacation week, it was semi-business as usual at the resort, save for unusually high surf and tides resulting in no ocean swimming or water sports…Back to more eating and sampling tropical drinks at the pool bar with a little swimming and beach volleyball thrown in. As the week progressed, reports came in that Sandy was on a direct path for New York and New Jersey. What a crazy situation — We escaped getting pummeled by the storm in Jamaica only to fly right back into a stronger version of it a week later.
On Sunday morning, we checked our flight status online and it said “scheduled.” After some last minute cocktails, it was time to leave the resort behind, get in a taxi, and ride to the airport approximately an hour and fifteen minutes away. We wound our way along the coast of Jamaica, thinking ahead about our storm preparations, and finally arrived at the airport only to discover that the flight was cancelled with no known future flight to NY! The ticket agent’s best solution was to provide them with our new hotel contact information (when we acquired it) using the airline’s toll free number so they could let us know when new flight information became available. Yikes–stuck in Montego Bay with no hotel and no transportation.
In the U.S., this wouldn’t be a big deal, but in Jamaica, non-resort areas are not exactly safe places to get stranded. Our next logical step was to find an agent for the resort from which we just left and try to make arrangements to stay the night. Well, the distress rate for this resort was $400 per night and another hour and fifteen minute cab ride back. This seemed perhaps a little high. The agent, however, found a much closer resort with a distress rate of $215 per night, also all inclusive (room, drinks, food). This seemed to be our best option. We arrived at this new place with several goals in mind. Successfully get a room; Let our chain of command know what’s happening; Call the airline. Most of you might be thinking “Poor you. It’s terrible to have to miss out on a hurricane and get stuck in such a horrible place.” And yes, there are certainly worse places to get stuck; however, we found it very difficult to relax with so many unknowns, in addition to all the extra money that was suddenly going out. Their laundry service said it could take up to 48 hours to come back, so we didn’t want to risk leaving before our laundry was returned (Carla washed some of our clothes in the sink with some detergent that we luckily had with us). We also paid for 3 days of unlimited internet and bought Skype credits to avoid the $2 per minute “toll free” calls to get information from the airline (we were on hold for upwards of fifteen minutes at a time, which really adds up at that rate).
Our daily routine consisted of waking up, calling the airline only to find out there still wasn’t a flight scheduled, followed by a nice breakfast (no complaints about the food), and then a trip to the front desk to swipe the credit card for another night. This went on for three straight days as we watched CNN and the havoc that hurricane Sandy was wreaking on the coast less than 200 miles from our home. Finally, on the third day (Wednesday), we read that JFK was going to open on Thursday. With flight optimism in our minds, we called the airline without haste. Finally, a definitive answer…They could get us to NY on the following Tuesday…Tuesday??? Not happening…So the alternative was to fly to Ft. Lauderdale, FL the next morning (Thursday) where we found a flight from there into Albany on Friday for a really good price and made it home just in time to play with the band at the home football game on Saturday.
All in all, it was a honeymoon to remember. Although our trip wasn’t perfect, we definitely consider ourselves lucky to have missed the storm and still have our home in one piece, as compared to others who were really hit hard. We were certainly thankful to be together, safe, and married! And now, back to real life as married members of the West Point Band.
Words by Staff Sgt. David Loy Song, Jazz Knights, saxophonist
Images by Staff Sgt. Torin Olsen