Despite thinking I’d do it differently this time and be all prepared sooner than the night before, I didn’t make it happen. But I had a list, and had been hunting and gathering, so was feeling pretty good. Still a last-minute errand after work – alas I did not have enough vacation time to take Monday off – but then I was home and on the packing detail. Seemed to be going well, and then somehow it was midnight. What the?!
I’d decided to take the airport bus, and had a couple of choices for times. Tuesday was Veteran’s Day, but not everyone gets that as a holiday, so there might still be traffic. I opted for the earlier bus, and had a nice pre-dawn stroll over to the bus stop. It was surprisingly full. Got to SFO on schedule and so had lots of time before my flight. Better than being stressed about not enough.
Self check in, ended up having to type everything in, so much for automation. Dropped my bag and off to the TSA charade. That was surprisingly busy as well. Who are all these people and where are they going?
The document checking people were actually moving us through pretty quickly, but the screening was backing up. One of the agents sent some of us to a shorter line, but then I heard another agent telling him that was just for priority passengers. They didn’t make us leave though.
Do the shuffle of removing stuff and putting in bins, make sure it gets on its way through the machine, get scanned myself and go to pick up my stuff. OK, there’s the two bins but what happened to my backpack? Uh, it was right there with my other stuff and yeah there’s some things I need in there I was waiting a bit to be scanned but really would someone have taken it? I don’t think any of the people before me had black backpacks that they might have mistaken mine for…
I’m looking around and oh yes TSA dude that is my pack thank you. Hmn what did they not like my epipen? Sure yeah go over to the open it up area. DOH! Forgot to empty the water from my Nalgene bottle. There was only a bit left, and I’d been to the bathroom and meant to do that while I was there but it had totally slipped my mind. Damn. No, drinking it now is not an option. Let’s see, do I want to go back out and through the line again? I probably have time, but no, I’ll just make a sacrifice to the travel gods. Hopefully that will keep them happy for the duration!
Out in to the fancy (new) terminal, there’s a book shop – which I actually manage to stay out of – but it’s got a broadside and a press inspired sculpture in the window. Super cool!
I source another water bottle. Not a Nalgene, I’m actually a bit surprised that none of the stores sell reusable bottles. It could be a SF souvenir! Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. There is a bottle fill station with a little save the environment message touting the tasty free water from the Sierra Nevada.
OOO! Candy store! I just look. Really. Japanese food restaurant, with Ramen! OK, there’s my meal out for the day. Then it’s wait time. Take advantage of the free wi-fi. People watch.
Originally we were going to be flying out of Miami, and I’d made a reservation to get myself there. Then, sorta last-minute, plans had changed to flying out of Cancun. I’d actually gotten a helpful person on the phone at American Airlines and she helped me make the change. No direct flight to Cancun though.
The flight to Dallas is on time. I’m in the aisle seat of two seats by the window. A large fellow is supposed to be my seat mate, but the plane is not full, so he finds another place. It’s a few hours flight, all goes smoothly. With the time change we touch down about 4 pm local.
When we left SFO the pilot had said it was 42 in Dallas, which for some reason surprises me, that it’s colder than the Bay Area, but I won’t be going outside, so what does it matter. I get a brief blast of cold air on the jetway but am soon in the climate controlled terminal. My next flight is only few gates over, but I wander around a little bit for the chance to move. There’s another branch of the candy place, this time with oversize examples of the wares. Bigger in Texas.
Oh, I’m not sure what the ice cream situation will be the next couple weeks, maybe I should try to have some now. Just then a Ben & Jerry’s appears. As usual they have lots of tasty sounding flavors, perhaps I should go with one of the “shop only” ones but I end up with a little scoop of Lazy Sunday.
The flight to Cancun is also on time. It’s full but we all get on and get situated. Away we go! The pilot says it’s 78 in Cancun. A little bit of turbulence on this flight, but not too crazy. This flight is only a couple of hours.
Airport. Seen one you seen them all. Yeah, I know that’s not exactly true, but there’s some sort of – generic? nondescript? quality to them. Limbo, transit, in between, indeterminateness – maybe that’s the word I’m looking for. The only indication that we might possibly be in another country is that the signs are also in Spanish.
They’d passed out immigration forms at the gate in Dallas, and on the plane, then there’s an agent at the end of the jetway making sure people have them filled out before they proceed into the terminal. There’s a long hallway from the gate to Immigration, it’s nice to be walking. There’s a big maze of Disneyland line markers, but we’re the only flight in, so there’s no wait. Apparently I’m not suspicious, as I get passed through.
Off to collect my luggage. The usual silly crowding at the carousel. Heh, well, being early probably means my bag will be one of the last to come off. Turns out to be not too much of a wait, then it’s over to customs. Got the answers on this form “correct” as well, then it’s press the button time. (Random search chooser?) I get the green light.
Out into the arrival hallway, with booths for transport and tours and who knows what all. There’s standers but it’s not mobbed, and no one hassles me. I see the sign for the hotel shuttle and head that way.
It is after dark, but it’s not as hot or humid as I’d been expecting. It’s really quite pleasant.
I’d thought I was the last of the group to arrive, but it turns out one of the Boulder people has just come in as well. Zigy, who’d gotten into research mode and had been sending out e-mails on various Cuba topics, and for some reason I’d thought was a woman, introduces himself and wants to know Is it the glamour or the romance of air travel that you enjoy most?
We have a nice chat while waiting for the shuttle. It makes one stop on the way to the hotel and we pick up a flight crew from some Latin American airline, I don’t catch the name, but when asked one of them says she’s from Panama. Their Spanish is smooth and juicy, with gloriously long and rolling rrrrrrrs.
I don’t think we’re missing seeing anything on the way to the hotel with it being dark. There is a Burger King, which Zigy points out as traditional, pronouncing it with a Spanish accent. Ah yes, the global homogenization.
Check in at the hotel. Claire, another of the Boulder contingent, had arranged a room for us to share. She’s just gotten back from dinner when I find it. We go back downstairs to have a drink and chat with Zigy, who’s also brought out his roommate, Brad. If it had been just me I probably would have just gone to bed, but it’s nice to visit a bit. We’re all very excited about going to CUBA tomorrow!