Monday, July 11, 2011

Traveling Maniac - Honduras Day 1, A Terminal Experience

For about half the cost of a week’s summer rental on Cape Cod, my sister and I rented an island in Honduras. Let me begin by saying that my sister and I have traveled a few times together and we always have prepared a detailed itinerary with all the details of flights, hotels, contact information, dates, times, sometimes even sunrise, sunset, and the expected weather. This time, we did not. We got cocky. The more one travels, the more one realizes that there is always something that goes pear shaped during a trip. We knew this, but we threw caution to the wind nonetheless. She would fly in from the west and I would fly in from the east and we would meet in San Pedro Sula Airport in Honduras.

July 1st was departure day. I left my house at 4:30 AM to catch a plane out of Logan Airport that marked the beginning of a journey. This would be a journey of planes, cars, taxis, and boats that would eventually land me on my private island in the Caribbean, off the coast of Honduras. The first flight took me as far as Atlanta where I had a brief layover before boarding my flight to San Pedro Sula. There I would await the arrival of my beloved sister Molly who would be arriving about 3 hours after me. When we arrived the plane circled the airport for what seemed like forever, but was probably only 10 minutes. 10 long minutes, during which my eardrums felt as if they would rupture. When we eventually landed, I joined the long line waiting to clear through Customs and Immigration. I was in no hurry, I had hours to occupy until Molly would arrive. After a very uneventful screening I was cleared through. I amused myself at the very tiny airport by reading, eating, drinking coffee and water, and waiting. I listened to the flute man – a local craftsman selling his wares and playing music for the arriving passengers.

I checked the board to see if Molly’s plane would be on time and was quite surprised when I saw that there were no flights from LAX coming into San Pedro Sula. None. Not one. Hmmmm. There was a flight arriving from El Salvador at the same time as she was to arrive, so I assumed she must have had a layover there and must not have been flying direct. Sadly, without the itinerary, all I knew was the arrival time. I didn’t know the airline, flight number, or origination of her flight.

At last the time came for her to land (I was hoping anyway). I joined the crowd of people outside the Customs and Immigration area and waited as the passengers began to trickle through. One by one they came, but not my Molly. The crowd began to thin as more and more passengers were cleared through and were greeted excitedly by family and friends, but still no Molly. Even the flute man was beginning to pack up his wares. I watched and waited with a sinking heart and knew she was not on the plane. I waited until the last person came through. Even the flute man was long gone by this point. I had no phone with which to contact her and we were booked on the next flight to La Ceiba which was leaving in about 2 hours. I did not panic, and instead went to the airline counter to see if she had already checked in for our flight and had headed to the gate. Instead of hearing what I wanted to hear, they told me that she was booked on the flight to La Ceiba for the next day. This was not the plan, so something must have happened. They investigated a little further and told me that her inbound flight had been in an oversold situation; she was bumped involuntarily and would be arriving the next day.

Well now what was I to do? Should I go on or should I wait? Since Molly had made all of the arrangements I wasn’t entirely sure of the name of our hotel in La Ceiba. I did remember that La Ceiba is a kind of shady place for tourists so I decided to stay in San Pedro Sula, wait the 24 hours, and fly with Molly the next day. The airline re-booked me for a small fee and offered to help me find a hotel for the evening. I declined and opted to overnight at the airport. The shops all accepted US dollars so I knew that I could eat there with no problem. And I really did not feel at all unsafe. I made several attempts to secure an internet connection using the free airport wi-fi but I had no luck. I had hoped to get a connection to see if there was any word from Molly. I wasn’t sure where she was bumped, LAX or in El Salvador, or what time she would arrive the next day, or how we would rearrange all our plans forward going. But I chose not to worry about things and spent a remarkably enjoyable, albeit noisy, evening camped out at the Dunkin’ Donuts. When it was time for bed, I cleaned up the best I could, brushed my teeth, made a little bed out of a couple of easy chairs and my duffel bag, covered myself with my beach towel, and fell asleep. I actually slept quite soundly and was awakened only twice by well meaning strangers who were concerned that I may have missed my flight or that I would get in trouble for using the Dunkin’ Donuts as a hotel room.

For someone in my situation, I was pretty chilled. I felt entirely confident that I had made the right decision. I only regret that I hadn't taken pictures of the airport to share. Oh well, I will have many of those in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. I'm on the edge of my seat.......WHAT HAPPENED THE NEXT DAY! ...LOL :)