“I was in room 100, the largest one on the ground level,” he remembers, „although my circulation was a little bit down on this morning.” Beside all the booths he visited – he had nice chats with some editors of the local TV station and met an old friend from army times – of course he enjoyed all the flowers on display in the hall.
Although he felt a little bit dizzy from time to time, he wanted to enjoy „a final view from the huge flower bridge over the exhibits in 100.” What happened then shall be described here in his own words: „I was a little bit puffing, when I started to climb up the wooden stairs to the bridge. But basically I felt pretty well at this moment. Just all the people around me made me feel a little bit depressed. You must know, in full shopping malls or at big events with a lot of people I don’t really like to stand in between of the crowd. I am more the nature boy”, he added smiling.
On top of the bridge he suddenly felt something weird: „From one second to the other I had the feeling that all other people would be falling back from me. And then all started to spin. I saw the muddled colors of the fair circling around me faster and faster. Then all turned into black, and my only thought at this moment was: Please not a circulatory breakdown – you have to know, this happened to me two years ago and I had to spend two days in the hospital in Caldwell.”
But then it got brighter all around him. The colors still circling in a crazy incredible speed: „But this slowed down and soon I could see again, that I was standing in between a lot of people. You can’t believe, how happy I was to realize, that I was still standing and not on the floor, all people bending over me,”
But this time nothing seemed to have happened, because the other people didn’t even look at him, but watched what was going on at the street. „There I realized that something was completely wrong. Because all this parade with the costumes in gaudy colors definitely didn’t belong to the Idaho exhibition.”
And then he got attracted to a fact, he should have seen already: The people around him definitely were no Idahoans, because of white people with straight hairs he could see just exclusively black people with dark curly hairs. „And they definitely spoke no Idaho idiom. It sounded a little bit like English, but was very hard for me to understand,” he added grinning.
“And then the biggest problem at first was,” he remembered still impressed, „that I didn’t know where I was, had problems to understand the people, and all I had with me beside my clothes was my wallet with about five dollars and a bag from my local TV station containing some stickers and a book of the history of potato harvesting – you must know, that my father was a potato farmer all life long.”
So, Carpenter went without aim and plan through the streets of the city, where everywhere this carnival like hustle and bustle was going on. After some time he heard some voices speaking „Normal” English. „It was an American couple in T-shirts and shorts,” the traveler explains and nods thoughtful, „when I asked the women where I am, she answered uncomprehending, that I should know, that I am at the Junkanoo parade in Nassau on the Bahamas on New Year’s Day. Then her husband pushed me away, telling me to drink my rum somewhere else, because at his home in Alabama nobody would behave this way.”
And this was the start of an odyssey for Albert Carpenter, which should take more than seven weeks. How to find an embassy when it’s so hard to talk to the people? Much harder: How to proof who you are, when you have nothing at you than five dollars and a plastic bag? Where to stay overnight?
To make it short, Albert Carpenter never in his life was a guy who gave up. He found some tourists from England living in the Bahamas, who helped him to translate American to Bahamian English. Why they helped him and didn’t think too that he was drunk? „I just told them that I’m suffering of Alzheimer’s and therefore didn’t know how I got there,” Carpenter explains with a smart smile.
With the help of Desmond and Desdemona, so the names of the couple from Warrington in England, he found after some nights on the beach („No problem at 70 degrees”) and some food from locals the address of the US Embassy in the Bahamas’ capital.
Of course here too he didn’t mention anything about his strange way he got there – „I didn’t want to be sent to a psychiatric ward immediately” – but gave again his dementia as a reason for his amnesia. Although the ambassador tried – American bureaucracy takes time – Carpenter didn’t get a flight home before February 19th. The weeks in between he spent on the embassy’s costs in one of Nassau’s cheapest hotels. “With little bugs as room-mates,” he remembers smiling.
Then arrival at Las Vegas (no other flight was possible), train ride to Boise, and the bus to Caldwell, where he got united with his family in the evening. First question by them: „How was your day at the fair?” because it was exactly the day, when he had left for the exhibition in the morning.
What had happened? One clue might be: Nassau and The Bahamas are located within the mysterious Bermuda-Triangle, where time and again ships, planes, and people vanish. Are people now vanishing at the Boise Centre in Idaho, to show up again in the Bermuda-Triangle? Travelled Albert Carpenter through space and time? If so, how? And what would have happened, if he would have got an earlier flight back home? Did American bureaucracy prevent him from meeting himself at home? And is it still a good idea to visit the Boise Centre?
Questions over questions, which cannot be answered yet. Even not by Albert Carpenter. But maybe in some years, when even his story has turned history.
© Mig Phoenix 2008