Monday, May 30, 2011

Panama - Day 10

Well it was a SHORT night.  I slept okay, but I had to get up at 4am for a 4:30 taxi ride back to the international airport, clear across the city.  Miel, a 30 year old guy from China, decided to take me on a "shortcut" way to the airport.   Thinking I did NOT need a repeat of my experience in Cairo, I began questioning him when we turned down a dark one-way street, which was definitely NOT how I came to Casco Viejo from the airport.  It turns out his 'shortcut' was basically just down side roads the entire way - for 30 minutes.  It's not any shorter, but it is cheaper, avoiding the tolls on the hiway.  It only cost me $17 to get there, so I think I got ripped off coming in from the airport...  Miel spoke decent English, and thought it was super cool that I spent some time in China.  I was pretty tired and really just wanted to hang my head out the window and ignore him on the ride there, but he wouldn't quit talking and asking me questions...

I got to the airport right at 5am and had already checked in and made it through security by 5:15.  Siigghh...  Why do I still come to airports so early?!  I listened to music on my iPod and tried not to freeze to death for over an hour before we finally boarded the plane.  I sat on the opposite side of plane I did coming in, but we were flying the opposite direction, so I still didn't get any good pics of the city from the air.

Notice the time:  5:18am and I'm already sitting at my gate...

Half asleep - waiting to board the plane

It was a 1 hour, 45 minute flight to San Salvador, El Salvador.  First stop in El Salvador was the bathroom in the airport,and it was gross!  No seat on the toilet (not that I probably would have sat down anyways), and water (I hope it was just water) all over the floor. I walked around and looked at a couple stores in the airport...and saw these little figureines made out of clay and when you pick them up - like take the top off, underneath there was a black headed man and woman doing it, haha! All sorts of crazy positions and doing nasty things - I couldn't believe it!!  I have no idea what in the world they are or what the story is behind them, but they were hilarious! I stood there forever and looked under a ton of them, cracking up each time I saw a new position!!  So weird...  I got out my camera to take a picture but the girl working in the store told me no photographs. :(  So these are my only pics from El Salvador:

Down the way in the airport I saw some cool looking crosses and other items made out of a weird material. Turns out they were made out of gourd fruit - by local women - so I got a cool black one :) Didn't have long to wait after that to board my flight to Managua. Its only 8am here and I've already been in two countries. Not bad! ;)

I got the first row behind first class again - and a window seat! I've got some good luck with these airplane seats on this trip!  It was only a 1 hour flight from San Salvador back to Managua. There was literally ONE person in front of me in the immigration line in Nicaragua, TWO people in customs, and ZERO back out front to check in for my Continental flight back to the US.  By 10:30am, I'd already been in three countries! Two airports and one more country to go today before I'm home!

I walked around the airport awhile, called my mom (UPDATE:  that 30 minute phone call on a pay phone cost me NINETY TWO DOLLARS!!), ordered a ham and cheese sandwhich and carrot cake in Spanish for lunch...and am offically out of money! Good timing.  Just waiting for my 3 hour flight back to the US now...

The security guards went through every single persons carry on baggage before we could board the plane in Nicaragua.  It took forever, but its probably a good thing because the "security" check to get to the actual gates is a total joke. You can bring anything in - literally. I got a young cute guy to check my bag - who I don't think spoke very much English at all - but I kinda tried to flirt with him and smile real big anyways becauseI did NOT want him to start pulling everything single thing out of my backpack!! That would have been a disaster (and a smelly one at that)! Its already so full I had to sit on it to get it zipped and just prayed the zippers would all hold up! So he really looked it all over and felt it up and down for awhile - while I'm talking and smiling at him. He finally unzipped the top and kinda looked inside, took out the ziplock baggy on top full of my shower stuff, looked at it, put it back in and I helped him zip it back up. That was IT! I couldv'e easily got a knife or anything else dangerous in there I bet!

Anyways, the flight was pretty uneventful. I fell asleep for a little bit and missed the beginning of the $7 movie I paid for, which really made me mad.  Not necessarily because I really wanted to see the movie, but because I paid SEVEN DOLLARS for it!  We flew over Jamaica or Dominican Republic I think...and it looked amazing!

Landed in Houston around 4:30 and whizzed through immigration.  There is a shorter line for US Citizens who don't have checked baggage.  The entry card you have to fill out asked what the value was of things I purchased abroad and was bringing in to the US.  I put $50...I bought some jewelry and stuff and probably spent around that.  So the immigration guy saw that and asked what I bought - I said jewelry, and he said, "What kind of jewelry? Like diamonds?"  HA! I laughed and asked him if I look like the kind of girl who just bought diamonds?! I mean I look like a total trashy backpacker! I smell and I ran out of clean clothes days ago, so I've been wearing the same pair of pants for like 3 days now! He laughed and said he didn't know, so I showed him the cheap little bracelet I had on my wrist and said, "Ummm, no diamonds, just strings like this!"  He smiled and let me in. :)

I swear I walked for like 3 miles through Houston airport.  I was on the phone and must of missed the little tram thing that goes to the different terminals...and just kept walking and walking and walking...with my 50 pound backpack rubbing my sun burnt shoulders raw with every step.  Awesome. ;)

I haven't had much beef since I've ben gone, lots of chicken and fish and who knows what else, so I tried to get a chicken fried steak at Chile's - and they didn't have it!  You know how you get your heart set on one thing and are really craving it, and then get shot down!?  Yea, it sucked...  So I found a little bbq joint and got some bbq beef and potato salad and bread pudding - for FIFTEEN DOLLARS! Airport food is such a rip off!

I got some ice cream (and paid an extra like 50 cents or something for three shakes of rainbow sprinkles - another rip off) and didn't really have too much time to wait at my gate.  I boarded another teeny tiny plane for KC.  I mean it was so small we had to walk out on the runway and board the plane through little stairs pushed up against the side of the plane!

Pretty smooth almost 2 hour flight from Houston to KC.  Mom was waiting for me at the airpot, and cried and hugged me until I couldn't breathe, just like she always does when I get back from a foreign country. :)

So all in all, it was another successful, great trip.  I'm not really terribly excited to be going home - back to my materialistic world and all my "stuff" and job...but I AM looking forward to my big bed and some AIR CONDITIONING, which I informed mom to crank up before I got home! :)

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