We made it!
After the crazy day we had on Thursday traveling out of Panama and back to the States, it is nothing short of a miracle that we all made it home alive and in one piece!
The first problem was our vans! We asked for two vans to pick up our group at 12 noon, giving us several hours to get to the airport and get through customs and make it to our flight in plenty of time. Thank God we gave ourselves so much extra time! One of our vans came 20 minutes late, and the other came 30 minutes late. The van that came first loaded everyone up quickly and began to take off for the airport. We all heard a strange dragging noise coming from underneath the van. As the driver got out and looked under the van, we all discovered that the vans muffler was dragging the ground. After several attempts to tack up the muffler with hangers, they finally gave up, unloaded all the passengers, and when the second van came, all piled up into one van. Yes, we fit about 15 passengers into a ten passenger van. Victoria, our translator carried some of the luggage and the other straggling passengers that could not be squeezed into the larger van.
Somehow, we all fit into the van, and began to take off for the airport. And then… oh no! A huge water protest is going on in Panama, blocking off several of the streets and causing a huge traffic jam in the open streets. This delayed our trip to the airport considerably. We were all saying our individual prayers that we would somehow, by the grace of God, make it to the airport.
Somehow, we did. After carefully navigating through the crowded streets of Panama City, our driver Ariel made it to the airport. Once there, we piled out of the van, grabbed our stuff and ran to the check in point. First flight check!
Then, our connecting flight in the miami airport also proved to be hectic. We were sprinting through the airports to make it through customs and get all the way to the other side of the airport to our gate. In the midst of all the stress, our group gets split up and we arrive at our gate, small groups at a time. The last person was Greg, and as we’re all boarding the plane, we keep looking back hoping to see him come around that corner. Sure enough, right before we board the plane, Greg makes it!
This trip has been the most exciting and stressful and memorable time of my life. I have to say that our adventures in the airport were pretty appropriate for our tone of the week!