Ohh Latino America I have forgotten how much of my heart you owned.
Summer break, a wonderful perk in the life of a teacher. Beginning May 20th and ending August 4 I am currently in the middle of resting, recharging, and refinding myself after an incredibly intense first year of teaching. After three weeks of intended rest ( and actual sickness) I traveled back to Seattle for my brother’s graduation. Five days packed full of family was both wonderful and exhausting, and after reconnecting with my family and community I climbed aboard a 8:55 pm plane, the first leg of a long trip from Seattle to Managua Nicaragua. I cannot remember a more stressful journey.
It all started well. Got to the airport with more than enough time, waited, and boarded the plane without problem. Only one issue, the plane left about 30 minutes behind schedule. The plane took me easily, abet long, to LA, California-and then the stress began.
Slightly before landing I pulled a flight attendant aside to ask about my connecting flight. I hadn’t been given boarding pass for the other flight, I informed her. What should I do when the plan landed. I should have known I was in for an adventure when a look of confusion passed over her face. She didn’t know she informed me, but an attendant would be at the gate and they would be able to help me– if only it had been that simple.
Stepping off the plane the first thing I noticed was the decidedly lack of attendant. With the help of my neighbors on the plane, I did know I had approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes till my plane took off. After walking 10 minutes I was able to flag down the help of an unmotivated Alaska employee. Ten minutes later she was able to inform me that I needed to leave the airport, take a shuttle or walk to the other terminal, find the avianca gate, get my boarding pass, pass through security, and then find my gate. 1:25 till take off.
Five minutes later I had received my first stroke of luck catching the shuttle just before it left. 1:15 till take off.
On the bus I received my second stroke of luck, the only other people on the shuttle happened to be a woman and her four year old daughter. The same woman and daughter who had been seated in front of me on the flight. They also had tickets for the flight from L.A. to El Salvador. Thankfully the bus driver hated her job and took her sweet time driving to the other terminal. 1 hour till take off.
Neither of us had any idea where to go upon disembarking the shuttle. Deciding we were on the wrong floor we ran to the elevator. 55 minutes
The second floor seemed deserted so up to the third floor we went. 53 minutes
We did actually need to be on the second floor, the man in the third floor informed us. 50 minutes
Too many people waiting for the elevator, no stairs, we needed to wait. 40 minutes
Down goes the elevator, baby wants to play with her castle, out the door we sprint. Which way? Stopped, ask the woman, opposite way, out the doors. 30 minutes.
Sprint, search, find, sprint more. 28 minutes
Find the ticket counter, gasp, “we’re on the flight to El Salvador.” Gasp.
The man looked at us. We were disheveled, breathing hard, and sweating profusely. He took one look at his watch then informed us that we had missed the plane. We needed to be there 1 hour before takeoff in order to receive our tickets.
All of that work, stress, running for nothing. Use your cellphone to call Alaska and they will work it out for you. He states. I translate for my companion.
“I have no phone ” I grit
“there’s a pay phone outside you can use”
Stroke of luck number three. My companion pulls out her big eyes, her four year old daughter, and her Spanish. Ten minutes later we had our boarding passes, walked through security, and to our gate. Only to wait as our flight left 45 minutes late.
Bienvenida a la vida de una mochilera.