Dragging mufflers, Panama riots, quick layover, tripod trouble…what else could go wrong traveling?
Before I begin my story, I just wanted to say that we did, in fact, make it back to America safely. What we had to go through to get back to the states, however, was almost unbelievable.
It all began at the villas. We were all packed up and ready to leave when we noticed that the other groups van’s muffler was dragging the ground. Considering that the driver, Luis, was apparently an insane driver, this didn’t really come as such a surprise. It was more agitating than anything. At this point everyone wanted to be home and this was not something we really wanted to deal with. Despite the attitudes, Randy was a trooper. He attempted to fix the problem with a coat hanger (perfect solution if you asked me) and rig it to where the muffler could hold up in time to get us to the airport.
It ended up that we had to stuff the people from the other group and their equipment in our van and Victoria’s car. It was a tight fit, to say the least. I believe that poor Monica had to sit on Greg’s lap the entire 45 minute drive there. My legs even fell asleep from loading all kinds of equipment on my lap to make room for the extra people.
The next problem? Panama City protests. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that there was a problem with receiving clean water in Panama City due to the overabundance of floods for the season? Well, the water cleaning system couldn’t keep up, broke, and caused thousands of people to go without water for days. Needless to say, more than a few of those thousands were pissed off. Hence, they started protesting THE DAY we left. Great timing huh?
The van driver, therefore, had to figure out a way to avoid all the protests that were happening on the highway. The only other route to the airport? To go through the middle of the city! Awesome right? It took us 5x longer than it would have if we would have had access to the highway. And you know how it goes. Once one highway shuts down, the other streets crowd with extra cars, wall-to-wall traffic begins to happen, and there are wrecks which FURTHER hold up traffic. It’s a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that was causing us to be even LATER for our flight.
By the time we got to the airport and checked in, we had only a half hour to spare. I stopped by Subway to grab a quick sub (cause I was absolutely starving at this point) and lets just say their Subway was not up to par. Not only was it at the other end of the airport from my terminal gate, but it didn’t have the options of provolone or bacon. I’m a southern girl, so I love bacon. Regardless, I scarfed it down and climbed onto the plane. When we landed in Miami, we had only an hour to pick up our bags, recheck our bags and go through security. It was INTENSE.
A few of us darted through all the steps and made it passed security just in time to see that “OH WAIT” poor Alison wasn’t let through security check point. Apparently the tripod equipment that she had been carrying ALL trip was just now being stopped by security because it was “too long” to be considered a carry on. It was ridiculous. A great example of the inconsistencies of TSA. We had gotten from Raleigh to Miami, Miami to Panama City, and from Panama City BACK to Miami without any trouble. So here we were, on the last leg of our trip, and poor Alison couldn’t get through security with the camera tripod. The lady told her to check it in, but she found another security check point and just slide by there. It was that simple. Go figure.
After all the trouble, we finally landed in Raleigh at 11pm and boy, it could not have been any sweeter. When we hit Miami, I didn’t really realize how much I missed the Carolinas because it was just so nice to be back in the states where they sell such food items as bacon and provolone cheese at our subways. Maybe I just really love Americanized food chains, I’m not sure. But sweet sweet Carolina, I missed you. I do NOT miss the cold however. Temperatures dropped from mid-80s in Panama City to low 30’s in Raleigh. Yay for winter weather.
Boy, do I miss the sunshine and tropical lifestyle. It’s crazy to think that just a few days ago I was feeding peanuts to a monkey on a tour of the Panama Canal. I will say, in North Carolina’s defense, that I do not miss taking cold showers or the bugs that liked to attack me in my sleep.