I did find the restroom . . . down the hall. And shortly after, found my gate. I still had more than an hour until my flight, so I pulled out one of my books (I had taken half a dozen along) from my backpack. Having a good book to read helps the hours go by!
I had recently watched an educational video on the most efficient way to board a plane, and so watched with especial interest as the boarding process began and crawled forward with a bunch of hurry-up-and-wait.
I was especially fascinated to hear the flight attendants repeatedly explaining over the intercom that “. . . no more than two carry-ons were allowed per person. Yes, a purse or briefcase or backpack counts as an additional carry-on. If you try to take more than two, we will remove them from you before boarding the aircraft, as we have a very full load today.” And then people tried to take three, four, FIVE carry-ons onto the plane! I felt sorry for the attendants who must see this behavior with every flight. They deserve a sticker.
The flight to Atlanta from Dulles was short, and the pretzel mix was very dry and incredibly crunchy. We left with gusty weather in Dulles and landed with gusty weather in Atlanta. The feeling of suddenly falling may be exciting if you’re attached to a bungee cord–I wouldn’t know–but it is certainly not a fun feeling in a plane.
I had only an hour and a half layover in Atlanta, which barely felt like enough time to get from Point A to Point B for someone such as I, yet I made it with time to spare. Turns out a pastor from the Valley was also headed down and catching the same connecting flight, so we were able to meet up and chat a little before the flight.
Before he arrived, I sat at the empty end of the gate and chuckled as the attendant repeated over the intercom that the flight boarding now was going to Sao Paulo, Brazil, not Guatemala City! And would the people headed to Guatemala City please not come into this line for now? And would they please wait to ask their questions about Guatemala City until after the flight to Brazil was properly filled?
I continued reading my L. M. Montgomery book while people started filling seats around me. I soon realized the people on either side of me were from the same group. I realized this because they were leaning around me to talk to each other about the mission trip their church group was going on. There were many happy greetings as thirty to fifty people gathered on all sides of me for this mission trip.
At one point the lady beside me turns to the lady across from me and asks in a loud whisper, “Does anyone know this man?” Pointing at me. They started asking around, and soon discovered no one knew me, and how had I gotten there? and why was I sitting beside Aunt Carol, etc? I just laughed into my book because I couldn’t hear them, of course.
I knew they were from Wisconsin because of their high nasal vowels, but I did eventually lay my book down and ask the lady beside me if they were on a mission trip. Yes, they were, she said. They were from Wisconsin, she said. They were going to dig a well and have a mobile clinic, she said. But now their group was gathering for prayer, she said. I went back to my book.
We were soon boarding. My pastor friend went on ahead of me; we were not seated close together. I was in the last group to board on every flight, which I enjoyed because people-watching is highly amusing.
As I got into line, I noticed a Mennonite lady standing anxiously looking down the concourse with a look on her face that clearly said We are going to miss this flight if my husband does not show up soon! I didn’t know her, and there was nothing I could do for her, so I began praying for her as yet unseen husband as I handed my ticket over to the kind attendant.
Standing in the halted line in the metal people tube leading to the plane, I kept praying for the couple. Soon I noticed them rushing down the tube. They made it! I went back and told them I was praying for them and introduced myself. Turns out, the fellow was to be the first speaker at the pastor conference I was headed to, but they were delayed on a flight coming in from NYC and just so made it in time.
All went well on the flight down. It was several hours long, but timed just right to allow me to finish my book. I was free to laugh out loud as I read because everyone around me had earbuds in. The guy beside me was watching a horror movie of some sort, and occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a gruesome scene before diving back into the safety of my book. [shudder]
The flight attendants all spoke Spanish on the way down, which was fun. I understood enough to know they were asking if I wanted more very dry pretzels, and I could fluently answer, “Sí.”
And so we landed in Guatemala City. ¡Bienvenidos!