A small group of Trinidadians stranded at JFK International Airport in New York by a snowy blizzard have congregated in one of the airport's food courts and started a "small lime".
The 20-plus group of strangers are bound by the shared experience, the shared frustration and the shared hope that they will make it home in time for Carnival.
They, along with hundreds of other travellers, have been stranded either in Trinidad or in New York because of cancelled flights caused by the storm in the United States.
Trinidad-born and bound Sherayne Welch and her best friend, Kimberly Lewis, made plans months ago to be home for the best part of the season, the weekend before Carnival Monday and Tuesday, when the blizzard interrupted their plans.
"Of course I can't miss Carnival," Welch said in a text interview yesterday, adding that the storm started yesterday around 6.30 a.m. and the authorities immediately cancelled over 1,700 flights.
"The other Trinidad-bound travellers are not happy but we've congregated in a little area of the food court and are liming and passing the time together," she said.
The snowstorm caused the suspension of all flights and threw a monkey wrench in Welch's Carnival plans, but the Trinidadian has made the most of her frustrating situation.
"Probably the most interesting experience of this day was getting to the airport in the blizzard and being hit by snow in every direction at once and the wind slapping us down at the same time," she said.
She said they were not so much frustrated as nervous that all the money spent in anticipation of the Carnival fun could be lost by an act of nature.
"A lot of money and time went into planning this trip and I didn't want to have to miss out, but the fact that I'm travelling with my best friend probably made it a lot better, because we're finding so much to laugh about through this lame situation," she said.
She said while the airport remained open, nothing was moving and even some preplanning did not change the eventual outcome.
"The airport is still open because a lot of people are stranded due to the storm, just there are no flights arriving or departing until tomorrow. I would say about 20 people (Trinidadians) are just waiting around but a lot of people came and left, I guess to come back when the flights start leaving," Welch said.
"I came to the airport earlier than our flights hoping to get tickets for an earlier flight but all the flights today into tomorrow morning are cancelled until further notice as well, so we are practically camping out in the airport in case they decide that the conditions are better and okay enough to start flying again, and we will be first in line for standby. If that doesn't work out then the next expected flight is (today) at 1.55 p.m.," she said.
The group remains hopeful that they will be able to get home in time for the two days of revelry.
"I'm definitely coming to play mas. I wish I could have been there to enjoy the season but I had classes so mas alone will have to do," she said.
State-owned carrier Caribbean Airlines may however have some good news for the travellers.
Corporate Communications head for the airline, Clint Williams, yesterday said they were hoping to have Trinidad-bound passengers in the country by tomorrow night.
Williams, in a telephone interview, said CAL had wet leased planes nearby if needed but said it was prepared to add flights to facilitate the travellers.
"We do not have unlimited resources but we are intending that it not affect Carnival," he said.
Williams said the wet lease operations could start this afternoon but were subject to permissions and approvals from JFK and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Two full flights left JFK early yesterday morning just before the airport closed off departures.
Mas camps are also making it easier for the last-minute arrivals, with several already scheduling later opening hours tomorrow night for the late-night pick-ups.