Thursday, August 9, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods.....

Traveling! There are plus and minus aspects of traveling as each of us knows. The excitement of going somewhere new or revisiting familiar places once again is always alluring. Of course, the downside is the planning and execution!

Once a year I usually head back to the states to see how my children are doing and find out how many more inches the grandchildren have grown! Of course, living on an island such as ours also provides another reason: provisioning!

My annual trip was coming up and this year I decided I would do what I've always wanted to do, tour parts of Europe rather than make the trip to the U.S. Got as far as making some flight arrangements and writing folks I wanted to see when a family crisis arose. Scratch the European trip and continue on to the states to tend to my family.

Of course, flying from Honduras, especially Guanaja, is a major plan in the making. I mean, besides figuring out what airline to take to the mainland one must determine if you will have to overnight before going on to the States which means hotel and taxi arrangements. And, if you get past that and can make it in one day, there follows relatively short time spent in flight in comparison to all the waiting in airport terminals.

This year I was fortunate to be allowed to return to Florida via our friends' private plane. We left the island at about 7 a.m. and landed in Roatan. Normally this should be a short visit and off again to the states. But, hey, where do you think we are? We waited at the airport about 45 minutes waiting for immigration to show up. When he finally did we found out he had to go to the market first and do some shopping! Of course, this is the land of manana so why should we not be surprised? While waiting I managed to purchase some cigars for a friend of mine who wanted them for his friend. Normally I do not like purchasing tobacco items because I don't believe in smoking - anything! But he was going to drive me to Tampa from Orlando and I felt it would be a good way to repay him.

After a 3 hours + flight, we landed in Florida. We again waited for customs, but not as long as in Roatan. When the customs man showed up he noticed the bag from the gift shop where another woman had bought the same cigars I had purchased (mine were in my carry-on). He looked at her and said there is an embargo on and you are not to bring the cigars into the country. She told him she was not aware of it and the clerk never mentioned the fact to her. He replied that this time he would let her go, but, in the future, he would have to confiscate them. I asked her what the conversation was all about and she said the cigars. I said "they are Honduran cigars" and she said, "no, they are Cuban cigars"! I was surprised and so glad we were not penalized for something we were totally unaware of!

I had lunch with Pilot Bob (former helicopter pilot on the island) and we exchanged pleasantries. He looked well and is getting his life back in order after close to a year on Guanaja. He had done me a big favor and purchased a weed wacker for us. Ours died a slow death and our worker uses it to cut our huge lawn. He said he would make arrangements for it to be sent back to the island on the plane when possible so that we could once again get our tall grass cut down to a manageable size. He also did another favor for us and I am so grateful that he went to all the trouble he went to in order to accommodate my requests. He is truly a really good friend. Heck, even if he hadn't done the favor, he is still a good friend.

I then left the Panhandle of Florida for Atlanta so that I could get to Orlando, Florida! Round about way of doing it but that's what AirTran does with that particular route. So in one day I was in three time zones; Guanaja, Honduras, the Panhandle of Florida and Orlando, Florida. I'm still not sure what time I am in right now.

The flight to Atlanta was fairly uneventful as was the trip to Orlando except when the pilot on the last leg of the trip announced it was 102 degrees in Orlando! The plane was full but all went well. Of course, when we arrived in Orlando, it took a longer to get our luggage than the time spent in the airport in Atlanta waiting for the plane to depart! Everything came through ok and in tact - even the two bottles of Flor de Cana I bought for our friend!

Of course, I had put my smaller suitcase inside a larger one to save space and allow me a suitcase to return to the island filled with "necessary" things. Well, I was overweight by 4 lbs. and had to take the smaller one out of the larger one and put some of the things into the bigger one as I was allowed 2 suitcases and this would re-distribute the weight. One would think it would be easier to handle one suitcase (even overweight by 4 lbs.) than handling two which ended up being the same total weight, but no!

So, here I am, finally at my destination contemplating all of the things I will have to purchase for my return trip that "I can't live without".

To make matters worse, I had a head cold and, for the most part, the trip to a higher elevation and back down played havoc with my right ear. Had trouble hearing out of it for several hours and had some slight pain.

Now I just have to plan the return trip and hope that all goes smoothly, or with as few problems as possible......but then, what kind of trip would that be?

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