Goodbye Guatemala, hello Calgary

Published: February 23rd 2014
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It was really nice this morning to wake up at a non-crazy hour to get ready. I was up before my roommates so I got my stuff together and put my last minute small items into my carry-on bag. I was pretty impressed with myself, I came here with technically 4 bags (2 checked bags plus 2 carry-ons) and was leaving with 2 bags ( 1 checked bag plus 1 carry-on). I was able to accomplish this amazing feat because I had jammed my carry-on bags with the majority of my personal items so I had one checked bag and the 90%!o(MISSING)f my second checked bag to fill up with donations such as toys and clothes. I’m really getting this packing lightly (and smartly!) down packed (haha –see what I did there?). As I made my way downstairs to see what everyone else was up do I notice it was extremely quiet. I didn’t notice anyone in the main lobby and only saw one other volunteer on the second floor when I was walking down. We tried to check-in to our flights for a few minutes (which didn’t end up working) before heading down for breakfast. The only other people eating breakfast from our trip were Danny and Parth (another volunteer). They had breakfast set out buffet style so I got to pick what I wanted which ended up being fruit, soft bun, hard-boiled egg with salsa, little bit of beans, and jugo de melon (way too sweet for me!), and of course tea. I’m not going to lie, even though everyone else seemed to have grown tired of having tortillas all the time, I was a little disappointed they didn’t have any! With all seriousness, I could live off of tortillas and beans. After breakfast I ran up to my room to grab my camera and walked around the city with Parth to take pictures. We weren’t gone for very long before making our way back and getting our bags ready. I’m not quite sure how this happened to us, again, but the elevator wasn’t working going down so we had to take our luggage down the three flights of stairs without falling down them; in one take, of course. Nothing broken and we made it down; check. We put our luggage in the giant pool that was the collection of the volunteers’ luggage in the lobby and waited for Danny to come down. It wasn’t long before we were loading our luggage onto the bus and saying goodbye to Danny (he wasn’t coming to the airport with us). We were officially on our own. Once we got through check-in and security it was just a waiting game at the gate. By the time I decided it would be a good idea to grab food I realized that I didn’t have any time –or at least I didn’t think I did. As each moment passed I got hungrier yet I kept thinking, ‘but they should begin boarding soon so what if I’m away when they start boarding and miss the flight?’ Needless to say I stayed put until they finally started boarding the plane. I had a nice window seat so I would have something to lean on as I slept my way through the flight. Before take-off when everyone was still getting into their seats I had asked one of the flight attendants if there was a garbage where I could through my granola bar wrapper out; there was no sense in me carrying it with me the whole time if there was a garbage available. Since we were in Guatemala and I literally just finished listening to this flight attendant speak Spanish, my first instinct was to speak Spanish when asking her. It came as quite a shock when she spoke English to me; she knew exactly what I was saying but apparently refused to speak Spanish to me. What did I do? I refused to speak English to her. I don’t know if it was because I was tired or because I was in a Spanish speaking country but this really irked me and all I wanted to do was smack her in the face. Sorry not sorry, I took great offence to what happened. After that I plugged my headphones in and tuned out the rest of the plane and quickly dozed off into dreamland. When I woke up we were preparing to land and I was getting ready to fill out my immigration form. We landed in Houston safe and sound but as soon as I got off the plane and through customs I had to go back through security! This is the one part I hate about flying through countries and taking multiple airplanes: going through security. Every. Time. I had just over an hour to make it through everything and once I passed through immigration I thought I was actually going to make it. That was, until I got to security and looked at how long and slow the line was. There wasn’t much point in saying anything to the security guards as I know they wouldn’t care in the least so I stood there praying that the line would speed up and I wouldn’t miss my flight. Once I passed security I got my stuff together and rushed to my gate, only to find everyone already standing in line to board. At least I hadn’t missed it entirely! I spoke to one of the people that I had actually recognized from my flight to Guatemala (funny coincidence) and asked if people had started boarding yet to which he replied, ‘no’ so I knew I at least had time to go pee. I can go for one flight without using the washroom but asking me to go through the morning, flight, layover, plus another flight is too much. I headed over to the washroom quickly and made it back in record time, yet they still hadn’t moved at all so I made the smart decision to dash over to one of the many convenience stores and grab something quick to eat. When I got back it was finally time to board, before which they had to check passports. Once on the plane I dozed in and out of sleep and I must say that it was quite the rude awakening to realize that there was snow and the ground… I walked through the long, cold, concrete tunnel that lead to Canadian immigration and from there headed to security and then off to find my gate. Because of the time of day (or night in this case) there was hardly anyone there so I had plenty of time before I had to get onto the plane. I caught up with my mom to let her know I was still alive and that I was going to be home (so to be sure to come get me! Haha). After that I enjoyed some Starbucks yogurt and then it was time to get onto the plane. I can safely say that I will never, ever fly from Edmonton to Calgary or vice versa; it was the smallest plane I have ever been on and the turbulence and noise was very disconcerting. On the plus side, because the plane was so small –and there weren’t that many people on board –we all got to move around and I ended up with two seats to myself so I was able to stretch out and try to fall asleep. If I was going to die on this tiny plane, at least I was going to do so in my sleep. Once we landed we had to make the cold walk on the tarmac into the actual airport, and I was so excited to get my luggage and go home to a nice warm place! After standing at the carousel for a good 15 minutes I took note that something must be wrong because I had witnessed everyone else from the plane grab their bags and leave! I ended up at the office where they deal with baggage mishaps and I tell the guy working there my problem. His first question to me is when was the last time I saw my baggage… obviously it was when I checked it in Guatemala where the man told me that my bags would be sent through to Calgary. Yet the person at the desk was telling me that I was supposed to pick up my bags in Edmonton and recheck them before getting onto my flight. What kind of sorcery is this?! Nobody has time for all of that!! And I say that with all seriousness. The guy behind the desk jokingly yet smugly tells me ‘well I guess we know where your bag is.’ After 30 seconds of typing whatever he was typing into the computer he corrects his last statement and tells me that my bag, in fact, never made it onto the plane to Edmonton and is still in Houston. How is it that I was able to make it through customs and security with all of its craziness but my bag didn’t make it? I do not understand, not one bit. He gets all of my information and tells me that my bag should be coming to my doorstep tomorrow afternoon, but if it goes past 5 days then to call the number he gave me. That’s a pretty big gap there, buddy, just saying. After that huge kafuffle I called my sister who was waiting outside to pick me up.

After all is said and done, it’s been another successful trip with VIDA and I can safely say that I will be back to Guatemala in the foreseeable future.

Another adventure and another piece of my heart left in Latin America <3


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