Trip Start Feb 01, 2012
21Trip End Feb 21, 2012
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I was up again before the alarm and decided I might as well pack up as quickly as I could so I could go out for one last trip to the central square for some cappuccino and a cinnamon bun. I sat on a bench in the sunshine next to the Fountain of Sirens with water spritzing out of the mermaids' breasts and tried to soak up some warmth for the next wintry weeks in New York. Got back to the room, showered, and packed up the few remaining items. I had hoped I could use my extra bag as a carry-on but even though I did not fill it, it still was kind of heavy and bulky.
Then began the ordeal. I didn't know it was going to be an ordeal when I went downstairs to check out at 10:30. I started reading a new mystery book that I brought and had not gotten to yet. 11 o-clock came and went. The desk clerk said the shuttle is sometimes later with their pick-ups, but if they didn't come by 11:20, she would call. At 11:20, she called and the travel agency said they would check with the shuttle driver. By 11:35, I was getting very anxious and irritated. Clare left at 10 am for a 3 pm flight. The travel agency said I could take the 11 am shuttle for my 2 pm flight. Hmmm.
I was about to gather all my stuff and walk down to the travel agency on the next block, but the desk clerk disappeared so I couldn't tell her where I was going in case the shuttle arrived. Sometime after 11:35 the "shuttle" came. It was a regular car with driver and a man in the front passenger seat. We slowly drove in Antigua traffic around and around the one-way streets and stopped, the man went in and brought out a lady and some bags. She got in and we headed out of the city - presumably to the airport. Somewhere in Guatemala City, the woman spoke and she and the man got out. Not knowing Spanish is a drag. I have no idea if it was out-of-the-way or not. It was not long from there to the airport though. I had a little over an hour before my plane left.
I went to check my backpack and asked how much to check my other bag. $45!! I was almost ready to pay when the Delta agent suggested that I shrink-wrap the other bag to my backpack since both together were under the maximum weight. I followed her suggestion and it only cost $12 and I didn't have so much to drag around. I got through security - they made me take off my flip-flops and take out my computer case. I made it to the gate about 5 minutes before boarding. The plane had a lot of empty seats. I had a row of three to myself.
The next hurdle was in Atlanta. My computer set off two alarms so I had to have extra security check: a pat down, and all of my stuff removed from my day-pack and swiped down and checked. I had two separate security agents and then they had to call the bomb squad person. He was very nice and said he would try to be as fast as possible so I could catch my flight and pick up some pizza on the way. He told me that sometimes hand lotion will set off the alarm. I will have to remember that and clean my keyboard with alcohol swipes before traveling. In any case, I managed to pick up a slice of Sbarro pizza with a very cardboard crust, but otherwise tasty, and get to the gate about 5 minutes before boarding. This plane was pretty full.
The man next to me was quite interesting. He has an English father and Rhodesian mother and primarily grew up in Argentina, and then Uruguay. His description of Uruguay makes me want to go there. He now lives in Vermont but has traveled extensively and speaks Spanish of course. We chatted a bit. It was cold on the plane because the air was blowing and you couldn't control it. And I didn't manage to get my sweater out of the bag before it was shrink-wrapped.
In Albany, I got my bag before someone else almost took it. I got some scissors from the information booth to cut the shrink wrapping so I could get out my jacket, hat, gloves, shoes and socks before heading out into the cold. The cab driver was very friendly. She drove in a way that cost less than what I have spent the last few times taking the cab to or from the airport. She told me about her Victorian house with ghosts and how she drives another cab driver home an hour out-of-way because he has 5 kids and his wife has a few more and sometimes if he has to get a ride in to work for $10 each way, he only ends up with $15 for the day. What a life.
Omar was glad to see me. My accumulated mail was in my mail box. I raised the hot water temperature and switched the computer surge protectors on. My trip is over. But I get to relive it by going through all the photos. I was surprised to see Kerry has millions of photos already up on facebook. I am now friends with Clare, David, Naomi and Jan, Leigh and Lang. I will look at Kery's pics tomorrow. It's late now and I am tired.