Flights to Cali
It wasn’t going to be this peaceful for quite awhile. This photo was taken long after the ordeal on an evening walk near my Cali home. The Cristo Rey statue watches over Cali.
I left Portland for my flight to Houston, Texas. I got through security okay. I read and slept mostly on the flight. When I arrived in Houston, I realized that I had an 8 hour and 45 minute layover. I don’t mind time in airports, but that seemed a little extreme. I decided to see if their was an earlier flight to Panama, where it might be more fun to wait and perhaps I could leave there earlier for Cali. I found a flight leaving in a couple of hours. They re-booked me and also found an early flight to Cali. They told me my checked suitcase would be re-routed too. I left for Panama and got something to eat and waited a few hours for my flight. When it was time, I walked up and lined up with my section. When they took my boarding pass, it didn’t work. They said I wasn’t in the system for that flight. I told them that they had changed it and it should be in the system. They double checked and called people on the phone and kept saying I couldn’t get on. I asked if there was an empty seat that I could take. They were getting annoyed and said no if my name wasn’t in the computer, too bad. So I would have to wait until my originally scheduled flight late at night. I asked if my suitcase would be held for that flight. Oh, yes, it would be on that flight like it was scheduled. So I spent more time in the Panama airport walking around, looking at all the duty free shops, wishing I could get some gifts for someone. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to spend or the room in my backpack for carry on. So, I mostly watched all the beautiful women walking by in their tall, high fashion high heeled shoes. Quite entertaining. I finally boarded and the pass worked fine. I slept a little and we arrived in about an hour and a half. I got through customs okay and went to get my suitcase. It wasn’t there. Everything had come in and was already stacked on the floor. I then filed a missing suitcase report and was told I would be called the next day.
The next day, I called them since I hadn’t heard anything. They told me it hadn’t arrived. I checked that evening also, and it still hadn’t shown up. This was Friday evening. On Saturday morning, I called again. It still hadn’t shown up. The two people who always answered the phone soon knew me by name when I began speaking during each call. They knew my voice. Finally, about 1 p.m., I received a call and I was told that my suitcase was there. I visualized an opened suitcase with cameras and valuable things missing. I wasn’t able to lock the checked luggage. I quickly took a bus for 80 cents to the bus terminal. On the way, the guitarist pictured in the previous post, got on the bus and sang for us. He sang an incredibly long song with about 50 verses. I’m convinced he was making them up as he went. I got a photo of him and when he finished and was leaving, I gave him 1,000 pesos, or 50 cents. At the terminal, I took a bus to the airport for $2.50. I soon talked to a security guy and was able to get inside to claim my suitcase. An agent had me open it to check inside. He just said, okay, it looks like just personal stuff. I was free to go. It was all there, untouched. All 46 lbs. Just 4 lbs. less than the limit. I then caught a bus back to the terminal for another $2.50. At the terminal, I decided with a heavy and large suitcase, it would be better to take a cab to my house. The driver charged me 8,000 pesos, I think. $4. My total costs were $9.80, plus the 50 cents for the entertainment. If I would have taken the taxi to the airport from my house and back again, it would have cost me 100,000 pesos, or $50. After living here so long, I save money like the Caleños do. I was so happy to have my suitcase back, especially with the five cameras that I will be donating to the kids in Bocas del Palo. I had been so frantic and depressed about the missing suitcase, thinking the worst, yet, somehow thinking that God wasn’t about to let those cameras be lost. I was so thankful and happy Saturday evening!