January 13, 2005
The Shortest Distance Between Two Lines Is...
Day 2 on the journey back to Guatemala.
It wasn't when I was delayed in Nashville by thunderstorms that I knew. Nor, was it the first time they took us off the plane in Houston. It wasn't even when the pilot came over the intercom to tell us we had two options: back to Houston or ahead to El Salvador. No, it wasn't any of those. It was when instead of getting to stay in the Hilton or the Radisson, I was being shipped off to La Siesta, Hotel and Casino thatI knew for certain that I was in for one long and crazy day.
But I am here, safe and sound and exhausted, in Guatemala, after a 25 hr delay through El Salvador.
Apparently, the air traffic controllers in Guatemala wanted better working conditions, so they went on strike...just as my plane was supposed to take off from Houston. We waited around in IAH for a while, but then they let us get back on because they had been guaranteed landing in GUA. But...of course, that didn't work. This is Guatemala, after all. So we were half way here when they had to decide where to take us: Back to Houston, or on to El Salvador. They opted for El Salvador. So we got in, they assigned us to hotels, and then we waited for about 4 hours for buses and taxis to come and pick us up for the 40 min ride into the city. I got a room at about 4:30, where I took a shower and put back on the clothes I'd worn all day because I didn't have anything with me. I got to sleep about 3 and a half hours before they woke us up for details on the situation. They decided to bus us across the border. It took them about 4 hours to work out the logistics, so we didn't leave the hotel until close to 5. There are many more hilarious details, but I'm skipping them for now. Just know that I had to be the one lucky individual who was last for everything, and every bus was full, and rode around town in the back of a pick-up until they found a bus that had room. And I am not even going to tell you how many Embassy warnings are out about riding on the Road to El Salvador and riding in buses that say Turismo on them. Suffice to say, I prayed the whole 5 hours, while my fellow Americans still traveled in their bubble of American safety.
Anyway, I made it into the airport in Guatemala around 10:15, and I went to my boss's house to crash for the night.
The only thing I have to say really is that I am so glad this didn't happen the first time I was coming to Guatemala. I think I might have curled up in a ball in the Salvador airport and refused to get up. At least I understood enough Spanish to know what was going on, and I managed to be on the same flight as a couple of American tourist groups who were pushy and loud and typically American about things when they don't get what they want...so I was able to get information that I otherwise would have been too meek to ask about.
What an adventure.