Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The first 24 hours - Episode 2
Alright, so I said this would be less episodal and more subjective; however, I feel like rehashing the first 24 hours in the order that they occurred - so here goes.
My flight outta Dulles was supposed to be at 6:30pm on a Thursday. I sneaked outta work a smidge early to give myself enough time to go home, throw my crap in the car, and allow myself to be driven to the airport. So far, so good. I got there at a decent time. Was able to check two of my 3 bags curbside, but had to take the third bag of medical supplies inside and pay to check it. (Side note - if the USADSF, or whomever you please, is not footing the bill for more than two bags to be checked, pack it all in 2 -it's not worth the extra cost.) That took a bit more time than I'd hoped, but I was ticketed and really have no problem being the last person to board the plane. I finally get over to my gate to find that the flight has been delayed about 30 minutes. Now, I've been travelling alot with my new job, so slight delays have become pretty commonplace with me. Generally the problem is that the plane I'm supposed to get on hasn't actually shown up to the airport yet - this is a recurring theme.
I take my new found time and go for a walk up the terminal to find a decent dinner. There's a neat wine bar/restaurant up at one end, but frankly I felt underdressed in my Adidas t-shirt, clam diggers and flip flops, so I kept walking. After a bit I decided to try my luck in the Tidewater even though it was slam packed. I found a seat at the bar, ordered a Sam Addams and a crabcake sandwich (I know, go figure). The guy sitting next to me was nice and I chatted with him for a bit. Another guy came in and sat on the other side of me and inevitably I would spend roughly the next hour and a half hanging out with him. On three separate occasions I got up, walked to my gate, and found that my flight had been delayed even longer. Greg from Vermont, thanks for being the only entertainment available at Dulles! Unfortunately Greg also had a flight to catch, so we parted ways and I made my way up to Starbucks.
At this point in time I should've already been halfway to Miami, yet, I was still at Dulles. I shopped around and waited and waited, but the flight wasn't happening. Bad weather was inevitably to blame, but it was getting a bit rediculous. I started to fear that I wouldn't make it down there in time for the flight out to Caracas the next morning and I wasn't sure what would happen then.
Finally, well after I should've landed in Miami and been lazily watching TV in the Marriott, I got on the plane. Got in to Miami about 1am, went straight to bed and got up at 7:30 the next morning. Went out to breakfast, met up with some coaches, athletes, and Lonnie and we gathered everyone to head to the airport. It took us awhile to get through the check-in at Miami, with only one small snafu involving a coach without a passport (he showed up a few days later than the rest of us). That flight took off on time and things were looking up. We arrived in sunny Caracas on time and made it through customs easily. The group headed out front to board our bus to Valencia, yet, no bus was there. A two hour wait ensued, and finally a couple of crappy busses with no a/c showed up and we all got on.
Valencia is a little less than 100 miles from Caracas and the roads are not bad. This should have been a 2 hour drive, yet, it was not. I believe the total road time was a good 4 hours with no less than a 1 hour stop off at a rest area where the drivers just sat and chilled..........with beers.
It gets dark very early when you're that close to the equator, so even though it was only 7pm it seemed to be about 11ish. Everyone was completely exhausted, but we made it to the hotel in Valencia relatively unscathed. Check-in didn't take too terribly long (when compared to the 4 hour bus ride) and I felt like overall the trip was going well.
I unpacked my things in my room, organized the closet nice and neat, showered, and hopped in to bed. I might have only been asleep for 30 minutes or so when there was a loud knock on my door and someone calling my name. At this point I opened my eyes and said out loud "I knew it was too good to be true." I threw on some shorts, checked the peep hole and opened the door to find the swimming coach and several men I didn't know standing outside of my room. They'd kicked the coach out of her room because "some Canadians need a place to sleep." You can imagine my retort being something like, "and why does this involve me?" They were demanding that the coach leave her room and stay in my room because I was the only person in there (specifically because I need to treat athletes in my room and it's not quite fair to constantly ask someone to leave the room). Of course I let her in to stay - it wasn't her fault they were being so completely rediculous. She got her things together, hopped in to the other bed, and went back to sleep. Wouldn't you know as soon as I got back to sleep there was a knock on my door AGAIN! Same stupid guy asking if I had a single room - "no you moron, I HAD a single room till you kicked poor Kathy out of her room and threw her in here!" He finishes up with "are you hearing?" Right, cause this is completely relevant to waking me up in the middle of the night and kicking people out of their rooms.