Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Return

We rose early yesterday, up by 3 a.m. Don had loaded all our bags in the car the night before so we essentially just dressed, tossed a few toiletries into our carry-on, hugged the sad-looking dogs and bundled up for the ride to the airport. We were glad to be leaving the 8 degree St. Louis weather behind. Rachel and Lance braved the cold and the early hour to drive us to the airport, collect our coats and send us off with big hugs.
We were not prepared for the chaos at the terminal. Despite the recent episode and the heightened security, we just didn't imagine that it would be packed at 4 a.m. on the first Saturday in January. It took awhile to find the end of the Continental line as it curled around, interweaving with the Delta and American lines, and once in place, we noticed that no one was working at the Continental counter. Not good. The other lines began to move, slowly at first, then more quickly, giving us a bit more space. Finally a couple of agents came out, looked around, disappeared and repeated this performance a couple of times. At 4:30 one of them motioned those at the head of the line to step up to the kiosks. I had hope that we would start to move, but no. Either every kiosk was not working properly or every person in line had issues that needed to be resolved by one of the two agents because we were still stagnant. Don muttered "we're never going to make that 6 a.m. flight". We slowly moved up and took our turn.
I knew we had not been assigned seats on the flight to Houston and right away got a message that the flight was oversold, did we want to opt out and get a voucher? Are you kidding? No. Continuing on, we were fortunate to get seats, not together, but so what, and proceeded with weighing our 4 bags to be checked: 50 lbs, 50 lbs, 50 lbs, oops - a smidge over 50 lbs. but ok (Don stuck his glass cases in that bag). The clock said 5:05.
We had already paid for the 2 extra bags online, so we hauled them over to the drop point and raced downstairs to terminal A and came to a screeching halt - security was backed up clear down the hallway to concourse A. (I know...that should not have been a surprise given the huge crowd upstairs.) Don and I both muttered "we're never going to make it". A TSA agent heard similar mutterings and assured all of us that we would be through the check-point in 15-20 minutes and actually, the lines did move pretty well. I heard them announce that our flight was boarding before we got up to the stripping point.
Finally, our turn came and we were ready tossing jackets, shoes, laptops, carry-ons, purse, pocket contents into the bins, doing fine....until a TSA agent held up my carry-on and asked if it was mine. He needed to search it. Great. It's 5:45 and they're boarding my plane and he wants to pull everything out of my carefully packed bag...and he did. I had packed two small external hard drives, the PC to tv connector, i-Pod, chargers, camera, etc. very neatly in the bottom of the bag. He pulled it all out, put it flat in a bin and re-scanned everything. "Ok, you're good to go." I hastly shoved everything not-so-neatly back in the bag and took off running. It was 5:50 a.m. We hurried down the concourse - fortunately only halfway down, to our gate and boarded the plane. The crew kindly waited for 2 other passengers who were still wading through security. Then we waited while our wings were de-iced before taxiing out. The tarmac had some ice and a light dusting of snow.
Once in the air, I finally exhaled and gave thanks that we were onboard and on our way. I then realized that it was still very cold inside the plane. I was thankful that I was wearing socks and real shoes, long pants, light sweatshirt and t-shirt, but I was still cold. People around me began rummaging in their bags, pulling out whatever clothing they had. I assumed the entire plane was cold but, no, I later learned that Don was nice and warm in the back of the plane.
Two hours later, we landed in Houston where it was 34 degrees but warm inside the terminal. I was so cold; it took awhile to really warm up. We had a great breakfast and lots of hot coffee at Ruby's just outside the international terminal. The flight to Roatan was only half-full, a sign I suppose, that tourism has not completely revived despite the travel restrictions being lifted.
We landed on Roatan 20 minutes early and were lucky enough to deboard the plane and get inside before the rain began. We were the only passengers waiting to clear customs and with only half as many passengers and three customs agents working, it didn't take long. Our bags all arrived safely (a blessing), and there was our pal, Debi, waiting at the door! Also her hubby, Bob, our Honduran lawyer and her husband (not to greet us, waiting on someone else, but still nice to see them). It was pouring outside, so we stayed under the roof talking. When the rain let up, Bob ran out and moved his car up to the curb to load our bags. Debi stayed behind with our car to await Kristin's arrival on the Delta flight.
It is still rainy season, so it's cooler (mid-70's) and very lush and green everywhere. Our hillside looks like a jungle. We'll have to get a gardener in here to trim back trees and bushes.
But our house was in good shape. Debi and her housekeeper had come over this week and uncovered furniture, swept up all the gecko poop, made ice, cleaned bathrooms (amazing how nasty toilets get when unused for 6 months!) and put clean sheets on the bed. So nice. We are so greatful for the dear friends we have made here.
Debi and Kris arrived a short time later bearing a few bags of groceries and Debi invited us to supper. I took a raincheck on dinner. We had not had lunch and decided to just combine a late lunch and early dinner at Oasis, unpack a bit, and get to bed early. After all, we're here for 6 months; we have lots of time for fun!!


  1. Glad you made it safely. The airport part sounds like a nightmare!

  2. riveting story. Glad to have you back in the tropics and blogging. :)

  3. Glad you are back and writing again. Missed your blog. We are so looking forward to seeing Roatan in person in March. And warm was still 5 here this morning (WC -12)....Tammy

  4. Tammy, let us know when you'll be on Roatan...we'd love to see you.

  5. We should be there on March 9 at 10:00 a.m. and don't have to sail away from there 6:00 p.m. Yes, I would love to meet you and see some off the cruise ship beaten path places. Don said he was going to work on some ideas for us.

  6. I meant to say OFF the beaten path places!!