Sunday, July 19, 2015

Kind of like The Odyssey...if Homer were Spanish instead of Greek...

I'm sure you all did your best to send out "safe and easy voyage" vibes...but I'm here to tell you that despite your much-appreciated efforts, it sooooo didn't work. Here's the tale:

Finally, departure day dawned. In some ways it was hard to believe we’d already been here for 7 days…in others, it felt like a loooong time since our plane touched down last Saturday. We took one last bouncy bus ride to the aeropuerto…then commenced standing in formidable lines for the next several hot (no AC), tedious (slow service) hours. You see, first you must pay a tax…to leave the country. ($29 per person, if you’re curious…plus the added fee that they so helpfully inform you will be charged by your credit card company, since they process it as a cash advance…grrrrr….) Then you take your receipt and move to the airline’s check-in counter, where you stand around waiting for the 2 employees on duty to process the entire plane full of passengers…and their mounds of luggage.

Fortunately (sarcasm font) this has taken such an exorbitant amount of time that everyone has already passed through the Security checkpoint and you breeze right up to the conveyor belt. Aaaaand, I set off the metal detector. Wait, what? (She looks down at her outfit in utter confusion, wondering how on earth her tee-shirt, athletic pants, and sneakers could cause such a ruckus.) Apparently this tiny little facility--with 6 gates and no climate control capabilities—has some truly kick-ass-sensitive scanning. Yeah, it was my necklace…and BRA HOOKS…that got me stopped.

Then (just to, you know, add to the festivities) Derek’s bag--the one that incidentally contained almost NOTHING for the return flight--was taken aside to be searched. The culprit here? A squeeze tube of aloe from CVS…which of course had already made it through RDU and Charlotte without concern…and the insect repellent we’d bought in a local gift shop to fend off monster rainforest mosquitoes. Each was, admittedly, over 3 ounces—and therefore confiscated. Whaaaat…everrrrrr! Finally, we boarded the plane in plenty of time…to idle on the tarmac for a solid 30-minutes past our scheduled takeoff. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong: we had an absolutely awesome time on our Costa Rican adventure…now please get us back to the States, stat!**

**Oh, there’s an addendum, my friends. Our dee-lightful flight included a bit of gut-wrenching turbulence…not one, but TWO howling babies…and then the crew cheerfully bragged that we’d landed on time…and we proceeded to SIT on the tarmac for an HOUR before they let us get off the damn plane. Meanwhile, here are some of the fabulous announcements they felt the need to share with us:

“Uh, we’re experiencing some Saturday evening congestion here in Charlotte. There’s a backup of planes waiting to get to the gate. Thank you for your patience.”

(15 minutes later)“Well, folks, something happened here at the airport earlier that shut it down for an hour, so that’s the reason for the delay. We appreciate your continued patience.”

(another 10 minutes later)“Okay, there’s just one plane ahead of us, so we should be in there in 5 minutes or so. We’re so happy you’re not yet throwing things at us.” (I may have made that last part up…’cuz I was definitely considering pitching--at the very least--a tantrum at this point.)

(20 minutes later…increasingly sheepishly) “Um….the plane in front of us is a wide-body, so that’s why it’s taking so long to back out of the way. We’d be soooo grateful if you refrain from rioting for just a while longer.” (I was fairly livid by this time, so I think they knew to steer WELL clear of Row 31...)

(Who the heck knows how much later) "The plane that's supposed to be gone by now has some sort of mechanical we're moving to a different gate." Are. You. Freakin'. Kidding. Me?

And in the last straw of ridiculousness, they actually came on to inform us, "Um...we're about 25 feet away from the gate, now." Thank you for that...I've officially been reduced to speechlessness. But perhaps the steam emanating from my ears says it all. Did I forget to mention that it was about 10:30 p.m. by now, and we'd been traveling for 12 hours or so? Oy...

Just when we thought we were free and clear, there was one more insult yet to come. As we AT LONG LAST pulled up to the stupid gate and prepared to bolt from the aircraft, they pretty much advised us that if we had a connecting flight....we might want to make a run for it. (Not in those exact words, because I don't think they're allowed to advocate sprinting through a public space, but that was definitely the gist...) Then when we passed the flight attendants wishing us goodbye, one of them cheerfully said, "Keep in touch...means so much!" Oh. My. GOSH. I can tell you that I have rarely wanted to kick someone in the shins as much as I did right at that moment.

Next. we hustled through Customs (dutifully declaring our approximately $50 worth of souvenirs), raced toward Security, and--no joke--they shut the metal gate behind us. Yep, Team WestEnders was the very last group of passengers to be shuttled through the Charlotte airport for the evening. Yaaaay, us? We proceeded speedily to our gate (which had been changed several times since we began checking an hour before) to be brought up short by the jam-packed waiting area, teeming with travelers from several flights that had been delayed by whatever shenanigans had occurred earlier in the day. So to punctuate the seemingly endless day, we got off the ground an hour late on our final leg as well. All of which brought us home at about 1:30 a.m. Yaaawwwwnnnnn! We made it!

No comments: