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Thursday, August 28, 2008

LEAVING NEW YORK

For an increasingly updated look at the PICTURES of my life in Trinidad and Venezuela, click on the picture below:
Trinidad


 According to the little digital clock in the corner of the screen. It is exactly Midnight between August 14 and August 15. I can't sleep. Last night, I slept 4 maybe 4 ½ hours. I never sleep the night before a trip. But this is two days. My brain's on fire. Maybe I have a tumor. Encephelitis. Something.

 Lately I've been... off. Ever since I had the worst hangover ever after spending a day with some Mexican punk rockers... The Sunday after-- they all slept on my floor. Were gone when I got up. Me? I couldn't move for more than 12 hours, except to expel some liquid or semi-solid... 

 Since then, I've been feeling nauseous at least once a day, and not too hot the rest of the time. Nerves I tell myself. I hope I'm right.

 It's strange that I would be a nervous traveler. I do so much of it. It's my passion, my life. But it's not the journey that's the passion, but the adventure. I hate airports: the expensive bad food, the security on security on security. The boredom, the clock watching. I'm usually hours early.

The planes are hours late. The weather forecast is thunder storms. Mmmm yeah!

 My apartment smells of cigar smoke from my nephew Kirk who'll be staying here while I'm gone. The plan was to have him move in on Monday, introduce him to the neighbors, show him the post office, take him to the bank, let him be seen with me. Ease him into it. Hang out a bit. I love the guy and don't get much chance to see him. Such was the plan. 

 I've seen him for 10 minutes... maybe an hour. I did get to introduce him to the post office staff and we went out for a Chinese dinner. No landlord. No neighbors. No hanging out. 

 In the middle of our Chinese dinner there were huge thunderstorms. CRACK! Torrential downpour. Like in the tropics. A welcome to Trinidad? Not New York weather. I bet it'll rain like this tomorrow morning. The flight will be delayed. Canceled. I'll miss the Trinidad connection. Be stuck in Atlanta. Moved in to the airport for a day.

 Where is Kirk he now? 12:07AM. The Shuttlebus is scheduled to pick me up in 4½ hours.Out for a walk? Comforting his girlfriend with a sick mother? Who knows? It's not his fault. There is no fault. It's only the way it works... or doesn't.

 It's been a hell of a summer. My mother died. Kirk's mom lost her apartment in The City and was traveling homeless, until recently. Now their car broke down and they're living out of boxes in New Jersey. A few hours ago, I called my long-time pal Helen on her birthday. The news? Her mother died in June. I hope G-d makes the big change on Rosh Hashona, before would be nice. This has not been a good year. (And there's still an election to go through!) 

  4:07PM (NY-- 5:07PM Trinidad) I'm in the air on the way from NY to Port of Spain (for some reason I keep thinking Port of Soul where does that come from?) Kirk returned at about midnight. We sat together for a quarter hour, waiting for the Airport shuttle that was only 15 minutes late. And the guy called to say he'd be late. It's not raining. The night is bracing. Not cool, but not warm. A perfect temperature. Something will go wrong.

 Kind of ridiculous to schedule a 4:30 pick-up for a 9:00 flight, right? Wrong! There are only 3 passengers on the shuttle. The trip speeds through queens. We arrive at 5:15. The airport looks more crowded than usual. There's a huge line at the ticket counter. I'm lucky. I have an e-ticket and only carry on luggage. I can check in by machine. Just run my credit card in the slot, punch in my flight number and read the information on the screen: 

NO SUCH FLIGHT NUMBER, PLEASE REENTER.

 I try again. Same message. I get on the end of the line huge line-- extending way past the end of the barrier ropes. The thunderstorms of last night have caused dozens of cancellations. The people on line are waiting to talk to an agent to get rebooked as best they can. And then again there are those of us to just want to check in. I put my bags at the end of the line and walk over to the flight screens. I look for my flight number. I see the dozens of cancellations. My flight is not among them. It's not among the scheduled flights either. It's just not there. What can I do except wait on the line and see what's going on. I look at the clock on my cellphone. It's 5:30AM. 

 At 7:22 AM I reach the front of the line. 

 “No problem sir,” says the clerk as she prints out boarding passes for a completely different flight number. “Why didn't you check in automatically?”

 I don't hit her...

 I sleep about half an hour in the plane to Atlanta. I got another hour so far on this plane. That plus the 3 last night gives me a total of 8... combined over the last 2 nights. Aren't vacations to relax? Catch up on sleep? Yeah, right.

1 comment:

Daniel Lampinen said...

Come on, every new airport is some sort of experience. A plane switch at an interesting airport is a free mini-trip. Great people-watching. If you get to switch in, like, Moscow you get to see both the Russians of today and the foreigners who go there.