This past winter I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with Saint Joseph's College through a service trip. I was excited to venture out and explore the world while helping others at the same time, but I was nervous since I really didn't know anyone on my trip. Although I tried to make friends with my fellow travelers during our pre-trip meetings, it's always a little awkward to break the ice.
Little did I know the biggest ice breaker was about to come.
On a Monday travel day, I arrived at Logan Airport, bags in hand, ready to go out and make a difference. But New England weather isn't always as cooperative as one may like. To our dismay our group found out that our first flight had been delayed about two hours. If this wasn't enough, we would now be arriving in Houston, Texas about 20 minutes after our connecting flight to Guatemala City took off. However our team was not about to step away from this opportunity and we boarded our delayed flight, meanwhile praying that United Airlines wouldn't take off with 25 of its passengers missing.
Turns out, they would. Our connecting flight ended up taking off just as our first flight from Boston was in its descent. With the next flight to Guatemala not until Wednesday morning, our group had an unexpected two night stay in Houston.
Although we were devestated to be missing out on two work days, our group took the obstacle in stride and we attempted to make the most out of it. To me, I saw it as just another adventure.
Side Note: In my family there has always been a competition to see who can travel to the most states. Despite being the youngest, and having an abundance of traveling reporters in my family, I have still made it to my fair share of states. I had an disagreement with my family before leaving on whether being in the Houston Airport would allow me to check the state off my list. However due to our delay, I was able to physically get my feet on the ground in Houston and therefore it totally counts.
Now, I have never had to sleep in an airport before, but I would have thought there would be some sort of system for unlucky people like us. Instead the Houston Airport workers directed us towards the quietest section of the aiport and gave us each three $7.00 food vouchers to use throughout the day. This would have been great if: one, all the vouchers worked or two, if any of the food vendors were open at the time we needed them.
By the time we had made it to our "pod," which of course happened to be six gates and a tram ride away, it was about two in the morning and our group was ready to get some much needed shut-eye. With no blankets and an outfit perfect for 80° weather, I settled into a corner of the freezing cold pod using a maxi skirt as a blanket. And to make matters worse, our pod was guarded by security alarms which for some reason kept going off every five minutes.
I think I may have gotten about thirty minutes of sleep that night. And when I woke at 5 A.M. I saw I wasn't alone, as massive, toothless adult named Richard decided to sit down right next to me in the empty pod. He proceeded to tell me his lifestory and allowed me to watch all of his personal belongings, including his phone and wallet, as he went out for a smoke before his flight. I'm not sure where Richard is now, but I hope he's doing well.
After spending the remainder of the day taking quick naps, snacking on airport food, and shooting the bull, we were finally on our way to a hotel down the road. And I didn't get out of that bed until it was time to get on our flight to Guatemala.
I'm sure Houston is a great place, but I never want to be there again.
May or may not be staged. But at this point in our trip, we really didn't care.