after only two hours of sleep, i jarred myself back into consciousness and got ready to leave for my costa rican vacation. prior to leaving, i weighed all my bags and discovered they were 10 lbs heavier than the 25 lbs weight limit imposed by the costa rican airline when we make our local transfer once we got there. there was no way i could reduce my load anymore, most of the weight coming from my electronic gear. i figured i'd just face the consequences once i got there. my sister came at 8:30am with my father, and she drove us down to logan airport.
either saturday morning is a really popular time for traveling or maybe the FAA issued another terrorist alert advisory (or perhaps a little bit of both), but the american airline terminal was packed with people, most of them waiting in line, either to check in or to pass through security. we had an 11am flight to miami to catch and we had 2 hours to get through this mess before that could happen. we waited in line, slowly advancing, one eye on the clock. an american airline admistrative guy came out and asked my father and i where we were going. we didn't quite understand, i said "costa rica," my father said "san juan" (he meant to say "san jose"). the man seemed annoyed that we couldn't give him a simple answer, so he brushed us aside and asked the people waiting in line behind us the same question. anyone going to miami was allowed to join a shorter line that had just opened. i followed the man - who by the way had this little pencil moustache - and tried to ask him if we could skip to the next line as well, but he completely ignore me, feeding off of his power trip, flashing his hand in my face. i glared at him briefly, then went back to my father and told him we could take the express line, not knowing if we really could or not. the guy was kind of an asshole and i should've gotten his name so i could write american airline about their diva hiring practices. other than that man though, everyone else at the american airline counter was very courteous and helpful.
after we got through the security checkpoint with 10 minutes to go before 11am, we realized that the flight was actually 11:45am. my father called my mother while i tested out my ibook to see if there was any wireless internet at the airport, the answer being no.
the flight from boston to miami was uneventful. we got center seats, which meant no window view, but less bumps through the turbulence. even though it was right during lunch, american airline didn't serve any food unless you consider a choice of half a can of soda and a bag of pretzels some sort of quality in-flight lunch. there were tv screens mounted throughout the cabin playing some cbs shows (everybody loves raymond, david letterman highlights), but you had to pay $2 for a pair of headphones if you didn't have your own in order to hear the audio. even though i couldn't hear anything, i couldn't stop watching it. it was hard falling asleep sitting along the aisle, people kept on brushing against me when they went to the bathroom and as they went back to their seats.
the flight from miami to costa rica was more "interesting", as i would soon find out.
it was my first time in miami, and the place had that weird artificial air quality that a building with constant air conditioning in a hot and humid environment can get. what struck us immediately though, besides the processed air we breathe, was what we saw outside of the airport - even though this was the middle of the day, the sky was nearly black, a massive storm was heading our way. our connecting flight wasn't for another hour, and since we were denied our midday meal, we got food at the airport, two school cafeteria quality sandwiches (i got a ham and cheese on pumpernickel bread, needed some mustard, which it lacked) and a fruit drink, all for the airport bargain price of $15. we went to go wait by our gate, and that's when bad news hit us: all flights out of the airport are temporarily suspended until the thunderstorm passes us.
so we waited. at one point i sat next to this john carpenter lookalike with glasses and an english accent, on his way to boston after visiting his girlfriend in tobago. "where in boston do you live?" i asked him. "arlington," he replied, "northwest of boston," he needlessly added. "oh, i know where that is, i grew up in belmont," i said (belmont and arlington and cambridge all border one another). he had that passive aggressive angry tourist edge to him, telling me these stories about his crazy travels without actually looking at me, like he didn't really care who was listening.
nearly three hours later, our flight was cleared for takeout and they started boarding the passengers. everyone got on the plane, slightly disgruntled but there's nothing anyone can do about a passing thunderstorm and nobody wants to ride through one of those in a plane anyway. 3 hours delay isn't that bad, and besides,
getting [it] on
so we waited again. finally the new flight crew arrived. all passengers were allowed back on the plane. after what seemed like yet another period of waiting, the new captain starts off by telling us his crew was originally supposed to go to london but imagine their surprise when they were told that they needed to fly down to costa rica. he apologized for the delays and the slew of bad news, then let out one of his own: while doing their customary last minute safety checks, they discovered a dent in the front entrance door into the plane, so they need to get some flight engineers to take a look at it, make sure it's structurally sound, and then fix it, otherwise the plane will have to be put out of service and either we find ourselves a new plane to fly or we all spent the night in miami, with no guarantee that american airline will foot the bill. the plane nearly rioted. you have to understand that a good percentage of the people onboard are of latin descent, and when they get fired up, they take action. there was any angry mob of people rushing to the front of the plane in an attempt to get the captain to explain further what was happening. all this drama unfolded over the announcement system, as the captain told everyone to remain calm, that it wasn't his fault or the fault of his crew, that they're just as fustrated as we are, that all we can do is wait some more, as "you got to be kidding me" as it sounds.
i don't even know how long we waited. all i do know is we got to miami at 3pm and didn't leave until 1am, 10 hours later. what should've been a routine flight that would've taken us no more than 3 hours and delivered us safe and sound in san jose, costa rica at 6pm central time, ended up becoming a airline traveling nightmare of mythical proportions. the only good thing was the captain put his foot on the flying pedal and got us to san jose in a little bit over 2 hours. it was 2am central time when we arrived. we didn't even know if our family friend was there to pick us up anymore.
after we went through immigration, after we picked up our luggages and went through customs (a man just collected our customs form and waved us through, we didn't even get our bags inspected like some other people), we exited the airport, greeted by a barricaded perimeter of receivers, people holding signs for tour groups, groggy-eyed family members and friends, or taxi drivers looking for fares like hungry vultures. it was easy to find mr.hsu our family friend, all we had to do was to look for an asian face amidst the crowd of indigenous costa ricans.
we found how that mr.hsu had visited the airport twice already, trying to pick us up. the man stationed at the parking lot exit even recognized him, they exchanged some words in spanish as if they were old friends. he drove us to his house on the other side of san jose, in the guadalupe area. being in a foreign country, signs written in language i don't easily recognize, the new sights, new sounds, it's a bit of a culture shock. but it felt good knowing that we were safe now, in the hands of somebody who would take care of us, no more delays because of bad weather, of ending shifts, of damaged doors. we got to his place, where his wife was still up, waiting for us, along with their three cats. she had some beef soup heating for us on the oven, as well as some chicken curry. i took a shower to wash off that traveling grime then finally went to bed in one of their daughters' empty bedrooms, surrounded by stuffed animals and posters and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. i slowly lost sensation in my body and fell asleep.
today's count: 57 photos
do you know the way to san jose?