We got up at 6 a.m.. Craig packed his bags while I wrote in the journal. We went to the house at 7 o'clock to find that Humberto and Paulina were the only ones awake. We had cornflakes and choco krispies cereal and coffee. Yasmin got up, fully expecting to come to Guatemala City with us. But Paulina was having stomach problems. She had planned to do some shopping in town, but the fact that it was Sunday meant that a lot of stores in Guatemala City would be closed today.
So Paulina decided that she and Yasmin would stay home after all. Though we always enjoy their company when they ride with us to or from the airport, we understand that it is a long round-trip best not undertaken when they aren't feeling 100% well.
Soon Eddy woke up, and then he woke up Aracely. We gave the kids a few odds and ends that we had brought with us (stickers, etc.) Paola got up just before 8 o'clock. She had wanted to get copies of some of my digital photos, but there wasn't really time to transfer them to her USB drive. I promised that I would e-mail them to her. Humberto took some pictures of us with Paulina and the kids. We gave everyone big hugs.
Yasmin, Eddy, Aracely, Humberto, and Paulina walked with us to the office. They helped us to carry our bags. We expected the van at 8, but it didn't arrive until 8:15. The driver was Adrin, who had picked us up at the airport when we came at New Year's. It was nice to see him again. We reminisced about eating at Pollo Campero with him. We said our goodbyes and thanks to the family, and we were on the road by 8:20.
By 10:50 we were at the airport. Since it was Sunday, there was no real traffic, so the fact that we got a slightly late start didn't matter. We said goodbye to Adrin and checked in at the United counter. Once we were all checked in, we went upstairs to the food court to get some Pollo Campero fried chicken. We each got a 2-piece campero chicken, with fries, rolls, and Mirinda orange soda. It was a guilty pleasure, but also our last taste of Guatemala for this year.
After lunch, we went through security and headed all the way down to the end of the concourse to gate 15. We realized that throughout our week in Panajachel, we had forgotten to recharge our iPod after listening to it on the flight down. We found a seat near a free charging station and plugged the iPod in, We got settled and relaxed waiting for our flight to board.
They then announced that our flight had a gate change, and that we should proceed to Gate 18. We unplugged the iPod and grabbed our bags and backtracked down the concourse toward Gate 18. Luckily, there was an available charging station plug at this gate as well, so we re-plugged in and sat down.
Our plane seemed late to arrive and board, but it ended up taking off ontime at 1:53 p.m. Neither of us had our bags hand-checked on the boarding ramp. It was an uneventful flight. I worked on typing up my journal on the netbook. When we landed in Houston,lots of passengers seemed to be in a rush to get to their connections when we got to Houston. We had an hour and a half, which isn't really very long if things are backed up.
We had to choose a line to queue in at immigration. The lines for citizens also service residents. Fingerprinting is required of residents, and the people in front of us seemed to take forever. When we got to the front of the line, our TSA agent was cranky about needing to work overtime tonight.
Once through immigration, we were dumped out into the baggage claim area. Everyone had their boarding passes for connecting flights and their passports out. We were forced to get into a long single-file line just to go up the escalator. They had blocked off the stairs. Some employees were yelling at everyone to put their passports and boarding passes away to speed up the security process. But they were holding people back from going up the escalator as well. It was very strange.
We waited in the carefully controlled line, finally made our way to the escalator, up to the second floor, and into a gigantic security line which wound its way around the room. We were worried that we would be late for our connecting flight. When we finally got to the front of the linne, we were forced to go through body scanners. In general we're against them for privacy reasons, but we were too beaten down to argue about it. I suppose that's what they count on.
When we were finally through, we scrambled to find a departure board. We found that our flight, scheduled for 7:23 and which by all accounts should now be boarding, was now delayed by three hours to 10:29 p.m. That would get us in after 2:30 a.m.! Steve was supposed to pick us up at the airport, but we couldn't possibly ask him to pick us up that late on a work night. We started to plan whether we would take a cab home or what. I called Steve and he already knew about the delay (the internet is a wonderful thing) and, good sport that he is, he said that he would pick us up anyway, regardless of time. He said that the plane had been late leaving Houston this morning, and things had just gone downhill from there.
We walked to our connecting gate, past the Bass Pro Shops with the huge taxidermy bear in the window, taking a right, going past Tepanade, and then to the gate next to the Rosetta Stone kiosk. This airport had becme familiar as we have been using it as an alternative to Miami. I had been thinking about trying Rosetta Stone. I need to learn Spanish. Two semesters in college, a community college conversational class, and a free online course from our library had gotten me to the point where I have a fairly large vocabulary, but my grammar was at the toddler level. There was a sale. I think I must have been inspired by Aracely, thinking that if she can learn English, we should at least put in more effort to truly learn Spanish. That way we could talk more with Paulina and all of the kids. I went over to the lady at the kiosk and let her give me her sales pitch for the Latin American Spanish course. I was impressed, and decided I may as well buty it here and go home with the actual product rather than getting home and ordering it online.
While I was completing my transaction, they announced a gate change, and that our flight was now scheduled for 8:45. Craig called Steve to give him the update, and we went to the new gate. We tried to find an outlet to recharge my netbook so that I could use it on the next flight, but we couldn't find any that worked.
We suddenly didn't have as much time to kill as we had thought. I knew where Wendy's was in this concourse. It was fairly far away, but I hustled my way down there to get Baconators and fries for dinner.
While I was gone the gate changed again. I didn't hear the announcement. I got back to our old gate with the food and Craig was now gone. I kept walking around and around, surely I was just overlooking him. He had my boarding pass and my passport; I had just taken a credit card to Wendy's. What if I couldn't find him? My mind was racing. Airports will do this to me. I looked at the departure board and misread it, thinking that this was still our gate. I was starting to panic. This made no sense; where was he? I paced back and forth through the terminal.
Then I tried to calm down and looked at the board again, only to see that the gate had changed. Relieved, I walked to the new gate. I scanned faces looking for Craig. Still didn't see him. Am I going nuts? Then I look a bit further down the hall and see him waving at me. He was against a wall next to the pilot's lounge because there was a free working outlet there. He had secured the spot so that we could recharge my netbook. It was all a big comedy of errors. When I finally found him the fries had gotten a bit cold. Craig was just glad that I found him. We hurriedly ate the burgers and fries.
By now it was time to board. The flight took off ontime at 8:45. We learned that our original plane had been taken out of service and they had needed to wait for a replacement. We had come through Houston hoping to avoid the horror show that is Miami International Airport. Houston wasn't much better today. It's always something. When will they perfect teleportation?
We landed in Boston at 1:07 a.m. Steve was kind enough to pick us up that late. By the time we went to bed it was after 2 o'clock. We slept in and worked from home the next day.
Eddy, Yasmin, Humberto, Aracely, and Paulina
Humberto likes Boston Baked Bean candy
Paulina, Craig, Aracely, Steph, Eddy, and Yasmin
Craig, Eddy, and Steph
Paulina, Eddy, Aracely, and Yasmin