Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Puerto Rico - Day 1

I'm just going to go ahead and start out this post by saying that Atlanta needs to figure out their snow issues.  ;)  Okay, I guess this time it was more ice, but seriously.  Delta cancelled 2,000 flights in to and out of Atlanta for today.  Mine was one of them.

Lucky for me, my mom alerted me to the weather situation yesterday.  I checked on-line only to see the big red CANCELLED after my flight from KC to Atlanta, and then again from Atlanta to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Awesome.  Was really nice of Delta to NOT let me know that it was cancelled, too.  So I call them...and the automated system tells me there is a 3 to 4 HOUR wait.  What!?  With no other options, I left the phone on speaker and continued working / frantically searching the internet for alternate routes.  After about an hour and a half, I lucked out and someone came on the line.  All she could do was either refund that portion of the round-trip ticket, which was purchased through Expedia, so she didn't know how much that was, or she could get me out there Saturday for free after a brutal 18 hours of traveling and a 6 hour over-night layover in Philly.  Ummmm, I'm going to go ahead and pass on that one.

I sent some texts down to Ryan (Shannon's BF) in Puerto Rico, and got on the phone again, this time with Expedia.  After another disaster with them and pretty much no available flights, its safe to say that the majority of the afternoon was spent searching for flights.  Expedia couldn't do it, so I did it myself.  I bought a Southwest flight from KC to Denver for 7am, and then Expedia could get me from Denver to Puerto Rico...after stops in New Orleans and Miami.  Whatever.  I was tired of searching and just booked it.  My half day of vacation was changed to a full day.  Instead of leaving at 2:30 in the afternoon, I would leave at 6am, and still end up in Puerto Rico at the same time...10:30pm.

That night I went out to my brother and sister-in-laws house, and thank goodness my niece saved the day and made me some tags to give out with our bag of gummy bears for Valentine's Day.  After a fiasco at Hobby Lobby trying to find a bear stamp, she came up with these online (of course) and got them cut out perfectly for me.  She's the best. :)


Soooooo.  Back to today.  I woke up about every half hour last night, and kept having the same dream that I overslept and woke up at 11am.  Ha!  So I finally just got out of bed at 4am, even though my alarm was't set until 4:30.  Showered, got dressed, made a smoothie, and was already all packed up.  My mom and I were out the door by 5:15.  Better early than late I guess.
At the KC airport

Made it to the airport in no time, although there was considerably more traffic than I expected.  Who is driving around at 5 in the morning??  Got though security with no problem.  Oh wait, did I mention that I packed everything for 5 days in a backpack??  Like a regular backack, not my giant NorthFace one that I take on my big trips.  I was pretty proud of myself for making that happen.  I already had a carry-on stuffed full of stuff for the kids in Puerto Rico, and Lord knows I am way too tight to pay $25 to check a bag.  So carry-on was my only option.

ANYways, my flight from KC to Denver took off on time.  Completely full flight, which surprised me because I just bought the ticket yesterday and it wasn't that bad.  I slept a little and watched some free Dish TV. Southwest really is the best.  For real.  Nice, big airplane, wifi, and free live tv.  Can't beat it.

Landed in Denver and went straight to Jamba Juice.  I am slightly obsessed with that place.  After a smoothie and some oatmeal, I remembered I needed to print my boarding passes for these next three flights. Found a United kiosk and it would only print my first one...from Denver to New Orleans.  The agent said the other two flights (New Orleans to Miami and then Miami to San Juan) were actually on American Airlines and I would have to go to there gates for that.  

Back on the train to another terminal, found the desk after race-walking at least half a mile, and they told me that no, I had to go to US Airways desk, not American.  They have technically merged to be one company, but not really.  Whatever that means.  I just had to go back to where I just came form.  Siigghh...

Back on the train, back to literally the gate down from where I had previously been to talk to... and guess what.  They were wrong.  The stupid flights ARE American, and US Airways couldn't check me in.  Well I had had it by then and told them I wasn't walking all the way back over there and they needed to fix it.  Now.  And they kind of did.  The nice US Airways lady called American and had to talk to two different people to get me checked in.  Jeez.  What a mess.  I actually feel bad for all the airline workers today.  All of the airports are a disaster, flights are being cancelled, people are pissed.  Its just a disaster.

Leaving Denver
With that done, I finally sat down - all sweaty after an our and a half of walking back and forth.  I had grabbed some snacks so I had some of those, and then waited
 for my flight.  They boarded really early  - another full flight - and we took off on time.  

Had some turbulents, but nothing awful, and landed in New Orleans a little early.  My first time there!  I don't know if just being in the airport counts, but oh well.  

I still had to get my actual boarding pass printed out -- from AMERICAN, not US AIR.  So I planned to go striaght to my gate to get that figured out.  With all of the changing travel plans today from the weather in the south, I wanted to make sure I had an actual seat!

When I got off the plane, I looked at the monitor to find out what gate my next flight was...and it wasn't on there!  So I walked back to my gate and asked the lady working at the gate.  That terminal was United.  I had to exit the secure area and go to another terminal.  Which meant I had to go through security again.  Ugh.  Thats the worst!

So I walked out and since there wasn't a line at security, thought I would just try getting in without my boarding pass, haha.  No luck.  Of course.  She told me I had to go back to United. Don't ask me why I listened to her.  Seriously.  I had JUST gone through this in Denver.  But I went back to the United check in kiosk and tried to check in.  It told me I had to go to the US Airways counter.   SO I DID,  Seriously.  I wonder about myself sometimes.  You know the rest....once I waited over there, they told me I had to go to American Airlines to get my boarding pass.  Shocking.  Hahaha...still can't believe I did all of that...twice.  

I finally got my boarding pass from American, and had just had it and my ID checked out.  As I was getting ready to take my shoes off and put my stuff up on the conveyer belt, I heard a man making some weird noises.  I looked over and the large guy right next to me was kind of moving around weird and his little wife was wrapping him up like a big bear hug.  I honeslty thought he was being silly and they were dancing around or something.  Until he completely went stiff, literally just tipped over and smacked his head hard on the tile floor.  I had no idea and it happened to quick for me to do anything really, but he was having a seizure.  I felt so helpless, and to make matters worse, they didn't speak English.  It was so sad!  I think he was okay after about a minute of seizing.  He was alert anyways and the ambulance came, but they ushered us all through security like nothing was happening!  Crazy.  Poor guy.

Barely had time to grab a salad and some yogurt and then boarded my plane to Miami.  I guess me complaining back in Denver paid off because I had priority boarding access stamped in big bold letters on my boarding passes, haha!  It was nice to get on first because I really had two carry-ons instead of one and a smaller personal item.  My backpack was stuffed so much it was almost as big as my suitcase, so boarding early  meant guaranteed overhead space for me!

When I sat down in my window seat, a nice older lady sat next to me and we started I was devouring my salad as quickly as I could.  A few minutes later, another lady walked by and I realized they were friends.  I offered to switch seats with her so she could sit by her friend.  I thought her seat was in the row right behind mine, but when I got up to trade, I realized her seat was actually a middle seat in the very last row.  Ugh.

Luckily, I had JUST figured out how to watch the movies on my iPad I rented from iTunes.  Didn't even know you could do that!  Made the flight go by quickly.  I started watching Helvetica, a documentary about the font and how often it is used, and then started Chasing Ice - a documentary about global warming and the melting ice caps.  (REALLY interesting movie.)

Landed in Miami a little late and by the time I got off the plane and went to the bathroom, I ran to my next plane, luckily just one gate down, and was the last one on!  Somehow I got stuck in the back again - second to last row with a baby across the aisle. Yikes.

The flight actually wasn't that bad.  I finished the other documentary and tried to talk to the guys from Puerto Rico sitting next to me who literally spoke about three words of English.  When the flight attendant came around with drinks and snacks, he asked for a cookie, but didn't have a credit card.  So I bought it for him since I was getting a bag of chex mix anyways.  Paid off, because awhile later when my headphones broke, the same lady gave me some for free since I had got the guy his cookie. :)

Shortly before we landed, we had some pretty rough turbulents.  Like, so bad I seriously thought for a second that we might be going down.  They were pretty violent and we got slammed from one side to the other about three times.  Safe to say I was freaking out, and I'm usually a pretty calm flyer.  So I was VERY happy when we finally landed around 10:30pm.

I text Shannon and she had  just landed a few minutes earlier so we planned to meet at baggage claim.  Our ride - a guy from the church in Philadelphia - was already there, so we walked out and met up with him along with a few other people who had just landed.  The timing worked out well.

Our nice hotel (Marriott) was about 15 minutes from the airport, and the drive with the windows down and warm air hitting our faces felt SO good.  I haven't felt above freezing air in over 10 days!  Of course the first thing we saw when we walked in was the tv in the lobby talking about all the flight cancellations and disastrous travel day.  (Thanks, we're all aware.  We just lived through that mess!)

Our hotel room

Shan and I couldn't believe when we got in to our room.  Big flat screen, hair dyers, nice towels, nice beds...we thought we would be slumming it on this "mission trip." 

The guys were still out playing softball, so we walked down the street to a little restaurant and ordered some drinks (non-alcoholic) and waited up until Ryan got back so we could say hi.  (We ordered some India Malt thing and neither of us could even choke down more than a sip.  So gross!)

What a day.  15 hours of traveling just to get down there.  And it's only going to take like 5 on the way bak.  Ugh.

Either way, all the work and hassle was worth it to be in WARM Puerto Rico for 5 days!

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