Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Getting Home

¡Ay de mí! Yesterday my flight from Kingston to Miami was supposed to arrive at 5:15pm. I walked through my front door at 11:35 last night. Why the difference?

I got to the airport in plenty of time to eat lunch, buy some Blue Mountain coffee and a Red Stripe t-shirt for Don, and a book of Jamaican ghost stories for me. The flight was full but I still relaxed. As we made the final approach to Miami, the pilot announced that the Miami airport had closed due to severe area thunderstorms. We'd be flying up to Orlando, refuel there, and wait for further instructions.

There were many people around my row that had connections in Miami to Orlando but they could not deplane once we arrived there. Since it was an international flight, we all had to stay on the plane plus trying to retrieve luggage for a small handful wouldn't work. None were too happy with the irony of the situation.

Finally at 7:10pm, the pilot announced the Miami airport was reopened and we'd be on our way. Sitting next to me was one of the Brazilian delegates to the Law of the Sea Conference that took place in Kingston. My Portuguese was stronger than his English so I confirmed when he asked if he understood the pilot correctly, and wouldn't it be a short time to get from Orlando to Miami? I assured him it was only a 40 minute flight. He was happy but I wasn't so sure...

Indeed we landed in Miami a little before 8pm only for the pilot to tell us there were a number of planes ahead of us on the runway and it would be at least 30 minutes before he could proceed to our gate. A collective arose from the flyers but there was really nothing we could do. I sat calmly trying to relax and wondering about a predicament I'd learned about when I called Don while we sat in Orlando.

When I called, he thought I was going to raise a ruckus because he wasn't on his way to the airport. I explained my situation and then learned he hadn't been able to leave for the airport because the car's battery died. He suggested once I arrived I should either take a cab home from the airport or use Tri-Rail to get to Metrorail and get a cab from there from south Miami.

I explained it would cost at least $100.00 to get home via cab from the aiport. Though I used to take MARTA in Atlanta to travel to the airport, I hadn't ridden Tri-Rail nor Metrorail and didn't want to learn how to use them while lugging a suitcase. Our landlords live next door and once mentioned we would always be welcome to borrow their car since they rarely go out. I asked Don to ask them to loan the car and he expressed discomfort since the car is a Mercedes-Benz but I convinced him to ask the husband to drive him to the airport to get me. He ran next door, and of course, Sr. Montalvo just gave him the car keys and said 'No problem.'

Back to me on the plane. I was remembering horror stories in the news about passengers kept waiting on planes stuck on the runway for 6 or more hours with no food and water and lunchtime had been many hours past. The pilot came on at 9:30pm announcing he would finally be able to move forward to a new gate. After a long walk to immigration and customs (I'll be glad when the Miami airport has all of its construction done), I was actually out in the pick-up lane by 10:15pm. However, we're about 30-40 minutes from the airport so it was nearly 11pm when Don arrived. I counted 4 white Mercedes-Benzes before he arrived in the neighbors'.

We stopped at the Burger King near the condo for late night dinner and I finally got to bed. This morning he got up, took the car battery to the chain where we bought it just last September. They got the purchase record from the location where I bought it since I couldn't find my sales receipt. My Matrix was up and running this afternoon so Don took a nap while I went to the store for a few items.

I've still got a lot of flying to do so I can only keep crossing my fingers that there won't be too many repeats of getting to my destination the hard way!

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