Monday, January 26, 2015

11. Alan Meets Margaret and Wainwright

Alan's green card.



Alan grabbed his bag and walked off the ship. Other passengers were disembarking as well, and Alan was touched by all the hugging and delighted greetings from friends and relatives - he warmed to the energy of their joy, even though he knew no one!

At the dock, Alan saw someone holding a sign with his name on it, and figured that might be Margaret the secretary.

"Hi, I'm Alan," he told her and they vigorously shook hands. Margaret smiled and said, "Well, I'm Maggie and it's a pleasure to have you. Let's go this way; I have a car and we'll go up to the Hill." She walked like this was a speed march. "Nice trip?" "Yes, very relaxing time on the boat." He then chatted on about the long airplane journey as he managed to keep up with her into the "foreign passenger" part of the shed. Just then he spotted Carla with some of her band-mates, but she didn't see him. Flustered, he turned back to Margaret, "I definitely loved the impromptu music on board the ship."

At the customs line, Margaret gave Alan a green card. "Here, sign this and you can legally stay here as long as you like. The customs agent will want to see it, along with your passport." The agent at the gate greeted Alan like a long-lost soul, surprising him. He asked a few questions, seemed pleased at Alan's replies, stamped his passport, and moved them through with a wink to Margaret. Alan was getting the idea that she is well-known here!

It was a fast trip to the Ministry of Trade. Margaret led Alan upstairs to the Tourism office, and Wainwright greeted him warmly. "We've been looking forward to meeting you ever since Maggie here so excitedly reacted to your drawing!  I trust you had a pleasant journey, yes? I have met only a few Americans, and very few of us here have ever ventured to the States...a frightful place if you believe the news we get here... Now, let's have a seat and we'll get on with it.

"I have a list of places we would like you to depict, Mr Faramond, places that we think speak strongly about this island-nation of ours. I'm sure you'll have questions, which Maggie should be able to address. Here is the list, and there are phone numbers so that you may reach us. I've secured a 90-day rail pass good on all the trains, busses and streetcar lines throughout the island, but unfortunately, I'm not able to give you a car. But then, many of the locations will be accessible only on foot! Here is also the address of the lodgings we have reserved for you, a train schedule, and a road map. Any questions Mr. Faramond?"

Alan looked over the paperwork (what a list!), then at Wainwright, a genial-looking guy he hoped he could rely upon. He was getting a little nervous about all this: it was really happening, he would be sent out to wander around this island and draw pictures for a guidebook. Did they think he could really pull this off? Are the natives friendly? Alan sure hoped so!

"Ahh, I'm wondering how long, or how much time I'll have to do these drawings?"

"Well, said Margaret, as long as it takes, I'm sure."  Wainwright nodded in agreement. They stood there a moment not saying anything, and Alan couldn't think of any more questions, so he said "I guess I'll be going now..." and Margaret offered to drive him to his lodging downtown.

Some of the stuff Alan received...