SFO–> IAH–> BOG
3:45AM. My alarm clock startled me. Not that it woke me out of a deep slumber, I had been awake for God knows how many hours now. I forgot it was still set since I had my brilliant new idea to stay awake. 5 minutes earlier, both laptops were backed-up with my external hard-drive. Now, the task was to get all the necessary items into my fire-proof box and rest of my belongings I was not taking with me or leaving out into my locked closet before the airport shuttle picked me up at the un-godly hour of 4AM.
3:50AM Startled once again by my phone ringing. Shit! The shuttle is early. No, United was calling to remind me of my flight. Duh! Could they not just text? Last few items in closet. Final walk-though of apartment to ensure everything is how I would like to leave it.
3:58AM. Another call. Airport Shuttle dispatcher calls, they are going to be 20 minutes late due to having to wait for passenger. I was the last stop. Cool, I laid down on my bed.
4:25AM The dispatcher called notified me the driver was 2 minutes away.
4:50AM Arrive at SFO. There were no lines. I go to self check-in annoyed the system would not let me do it the night before. The kiosk also was having issues. The agent apologized saying the merger was finalized & the system was having issues. Apparently now I have a new frequent flier number.
4:58AM Walking to security. Not too bad. Like George Clooney in Up in the Air, I assessed the 2 lines. No families with strollers. Both lines appeared to have seasoned travelers and business passengers deftly removing shoes, laptops and jackets. Sweet! Only 10 minutes.
5:08AM My gate was further back in the terminal. Needing breakfast, I knew I’d stop at Buena Vista to grab an egg sandwich. No coffee for this girl. First, I would have to make it to the gate. Trying to get there quickly, I walked on the moving walkway. Why do people stand in the middle of the moving walkway with their 2 large carry-ons? This is not a ride at Disney people.
5:13AM Stand behind a lady who finds it difficult to choose what size coffee and which sandwich. Then pays with cash while looking for exact change! Grrr….
5:16AM Order and pay for my sandwich in less than a minute. Stop to full my Platypus, collapsable water bottle that looks like an IV bag with carabiner attachment.
5:18AM Get to gate. They had already begun boarding. Crap, I go to the preferred line. The lady looks at my boarding pass and told me I had to wait and told me sternly to step aside. Um, no I have priority boarding. Usually I would not argue but was too tired to stand behind idiots that do not know how to board a plane and cram their 2 large bags in the overhead because they were too cheap to pay for one. Annoyed, I pulled out my United Card and showed it to her along with my boarding pass. She apologized and let me through. Damn straight!
5:22AM On the plane. In my seat. Shoes off. Sarong for blanket. Neck pillow and eye mask. I was awake to see my fellow passengers join me. They both meant business, too. One with blanket ready and mask. The other just a neck pillow. We probably all feel asleep at the same time. I do not recall hearing the safety announcements or feeling us take off.
11:24AM The intercom when pilot notified us we would be arriving in Houston’s Intercontinental Airport. It felt good to get some rest, even if it was only 4 hours.
11:50AM Off the plane and in the United terminal. I wandered around to stretch my legs. With my last Starbucks gift card, I bought a Vanilla Latte and banana to finish off the balance.
12:08PM Next flight was not for another 4 hours, I checked into the United Club to relax and enjoy the amenities. Being in the “special club” also remind me much of Up in the Air as most people were in suits with in front of their command station with coffee, laptop, blackberry or iPhone. Meanwhile, I was happy not to be traveling for work and not even close to wearing a suit.
A few people tried to chat me up by asking why I was traveling. After telling them about being liberated from my job and taking 3 months to travel, they got concerned. Why don’t you get a new job and keep the extra money? Aren’t you worried about getting a new be job/ how long it will take to get a new job? What about your family? You are not married? You don’t have kids? I hate these questions because even if they are going to ask such questions, they will not grop my answer(s). The spelling of my name is not common. Why should my life be common?
Back to the Up in the Air movie, George Clooney gave talks on the topic, How full is your backpack? These people who asked me so many questions, while I am sure they are, maybe, enjoying their lives, have 2 oversized bags with 2 large carry-ons making it difficult to manuever, take risks and do what makes them happy. However, I think George’s back-pack in the movie was way too empty.
Like Goldilocks, I think my backpack is just right. I have enough material goods to take care of my basic needs, enough money to allow me to live without worry, plenty of close friends/family to support me socially and emotionally. Yes, at times I worry about my future but what good does it do? I worry about leaving the country and having everyone move on without me/ forgetting about me. This thought I dismiss as silly because I know my core friends and family will always be there for me whether I am near or far.
I exchanged my empty coffee for a Bloody Mary. To avoid conversation with anymore people with negative thoughts, I popped in my earbuds. Yes, I am sure I will have income flowing in again. Yes, I will get married when the right man comes along. Yes, I will continue to live a full and happy life by my definition not others. Now, I will read my book, drink my Bloody Mary (possibly another), get on the plane to Bogota and enjoy the hell out of my severance.
9:34PM Land at BOG. Had to wait for a bus to take us to the terminal.
9:54PM The Bogota airport was bright and clean but had a look of a clinic. Immigration was swift but my transition to spanish was not. My brain was not firing quickly since it was tired. Even though it had only been a few weeks, speaking in basic Spanish required concentration.
10:02PM The carousel started and I quickly received my bag in tact.
10:05PM Coming outside of the airport and walking through the gauntlet was not scary. A few cab drivers stalked me but lost them on my way up to the second floor to find an ATM. Found the ATM and got a hand-full of Colombian Pesos
10:18PM Located taxi stand. Got slip of paper and taxi. I slammed door by accident. The driver was not happy with me despite my many lo sientos. Eventually he warmed up. Showed me the laminated cheat sheet in the back pocket. We started to talk. He of course hit on me. I told him I was a good Christian with a serious boyfriend. My friend I was meeting was his best friend, Carlos who would be my body guard and los ojos de mi novio.
10:50PM He dropped me off at Platypus hostel versus the correct place Casa Platypus Hotel. Fortunately, it was walking distance around the corner.
10:55PM I checked in. They had no key for me. Carlos half asleep opened the door and returned to bed. I dropped my bags.
11:08PM Tired but wired. Went downstairs for a beer, Aguina. Checked e-mail. Updated FB status.
11:41PM Showered. While enjoying warm shower, I thought. While I have spent a lot of time up in the air in the past few months, I am now grounded and ready for a new chapter. A new adventure through South America.
11:56PM Got in bed to get a good night’s sleep to be able to explore Bogota, Colombia. ZZZZzzzzz. Crashed.