MIRACLES DO HAPPEN: COSTA RICA, ATLANTA, PALM BEACH, MIAMI, AND THE CAYMAN ISLANDS IN 36 HOURS.

Whether you call it coincidence, divine interaction, or synchronicity, it’s ridiculous how things work out sometimes. Just a few hours ago I was in Costa Rica, and now I’m in the Cayman Islands. But it wasn’t easy getting here. A few pictures to sum up Costa Rica:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Ziplining

Ziplining

Sailing

Sailing

Island Exploring

Island Exploring

Passing sailboats paddling out to an island

Passing sailboats paddling out to an island

Rafting

Rafting

Massive Palm Trees

Massive Palm Trees

Beach ATV Tour

Beach ATV Tour

Squirrel at the Bar

Squirrel at the Bar

Beautiful Sunset

Beautiful Sunset

Dixie and I ended our last day of surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica early to make sure we could catch the shuttle ride to the airport on time. With all of our salty belongings stuffed into bags, we packed into the turbodiesel manual transmission 10 seater van, and enjoyed the subsequent language barrier silence. Passport: Check. Bags: Check. Carry on: check. Bathroom stop, $14 mediocre airport meal, charged laptop, and the sketchy feeling going through security wondering if shells are illegal to bring back from Costa Rica: check, check, check, check. As we boarded flight 503 from Liberia, Costa Rica, to Palm Beach, Florida, my girlfriend’s family and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

The overhead PA system dings, and the captain clears his throat.

“Uh, folks, we’ve got a little situation here, involving some safety precautions on the aircraft.”

The wave of dismal sighs, moans, and groans grew into palpable impatience among the eager travelers.

“During our routine pre-flight inspection, the crew noticed a tire with low air pressure, so we’re going to take a closer look at it. Just sit tight, and we will be on our way shortly.”

One hour into the delay, I wish “shortly” was the case.

The captain chimed back in 30 minutes later, “Alright folks. Here’s the deal. We have low pressure in the tire. We need an air pressure gauge to ensure that the pressure is sufficient for landing. We do not have that gauge. So we’re going to have to change the tire. However…”

“Oh great, here we go”, I thought.

“…We don’t have a jack to lift the plane to change the tire. So we’re currently trying to borrow one from another airline so we can get on our way.”

Just to save you the misery that we experienced on flight 503 that fine 85 degree day, with no air conditioning, I’ll summarize the ensuing events. By the time they found another jack, it was 2 hours into the delay, people are frequently visiting the lavatories just to kill time, my laptop battery is already dead from watching GoPro videos of ziplining, horseback riding, and sunset sailing. The plane is a giant sauna capsule at this point because the engines are not powering the air conditioning, which is assisting the stagnant wafting mixture of body odor and gringo.

So they get a jack, try to raise the plane, and inform us that they should have moved the plane onto concrete first because the jack is sinking into the asphalt under the weight of the plane. Cool guys. Just do it! We relocate, jack it up, change the tire, and off we go. The flight went flawlessly…until the landing. I’m staring out the window, wondering why we’re coming into the runway at such a strange angle. It looks like we’re flying right off the runway. And we were. The pilot over corrects, and now we’re heading for the grass on the otherside of the runway. Not to mention we’re pitched at such an angle that the wing is almost hitting the ground. One side of landing gear slams into the pavement at 150 miles per hour, and then the other side. Thank god we had enough air in those tires, or that landing may not have worked out in our favor! We taxi up to the gate, and Captain Good News comes on again.

“We apologize for the rough landing folks, there seems to be a little cross wind here, and our co-pilot is still working on polishing up those landings.”

Glad we could be there to witness it.

At 9:30PM we arrive at our layover in Atlanta, Georgia, the largest airport in the United States. Due to the delay we’re forced to get a hotel, stay the night, and take the earliest flight out to Florida the next day…Or so we thought.

“There’s a flight leaving in 20 minutes. How fast are you guys?”

We launched the check-in bags on the scale, waved, and ran to the shuttle. The chances of us catching the flight are slim but existent.

Getting through security is hilarious. Sandals, belts, watches, wallets, coins, sunglasses, backpacks, and laptops are flying through the air as we try to rush through the scanners and sprint to the gate before the plane departs. But wait! There’s a 10 minute shuttle ride to the terminal! Obviously. The rollercoaster of emotions continues. We get to the plane in the knick of time, board, get seated, and at this point, we are almost expecting issues. Low and behold, they need to recheck the fuel levels. It wouldn’t make sense for them to be full. And it wouldn’t make sense to leave anywhere near the time we’re supposed to. No pleasant smells on this flight either. Let’s just say the guy in front of us must have eaten a steady diet of rice and beans for a few days. Long story long, they fill up with fuel, find out the paperwork on the fuel was filled out incorrectly, resulting in another hour delay, and we’re just glad the wings haven’t fallen off yet. I get the only seat on the plane without a window. Sick view. Fortunately, my fellow row 16ers were very friendly, young, entertaining, and even offered me a job in real estate when I graduate. Networking at it’s finest. We exit the plane at Palm Beach airport at 2:30AM, and stand around baggage claim like a gaggle of zombies. We could have stored the groceries for a family of 5 with the bags under our eyes.

Weird. All the luggage is gone and we still don’t see any of ours. We file a claim, and they tell us it will arrive the next day. Should have seen that coming.

We pile in the car, drive an hour home, wake up, go to get the luggage the next day, arrive at baggage services. 4 of the 5 bags were there.

“Sir, we don’t really know where the 5th bag is.”

What do you even say to that! Try harder? Find it, pretty please?

We drive back home, 1 bag short of a full load, and begin packing for the Cayman Islands. We fit 2 wakeboards, a skimboard, a full array of snorkeling and diving gear, and enough clothes to last Dixie and I 4 months. We each have 2 checked bags, and a carry on. Our flight leaves at 10AM the next day, so we have to wake up at 6AM to make the 2 hour drive to Miami Airport.

Phone alarms and eggs for breakfast are the start to the big day. Still jet lagged and accidentally saying greetings in Spanish to each other, and we’re about to be on our way to an entirely different country in just a few hours. If we could get there in time.

We calculate our driving route, and decide to leave a 30 minute cushion in case traffic is thick, or we run into a snag. Better safe than sorry.

What we didn’t build into the travel cushion was a 3 mile unavoidable construction zone on the outskirts of Miami that blazed by at a mind boggling 1.5 miles per hour. No exits. No way out. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for 2 hours, we began looking into rescheduling our flight for later that day. It was now 9:45AM and our flight left at 10:25AM. We were still 30 minutes from the airport when we got through the construction zone. When the construction ended it was like someone opened the gates to the zoo after not feeding the animals for a week. Cars sped up to well above the speed limit, changing lanes rapidly, trying to make it to meetings, jobs, or flights. After exiting the highway, we got pretty lucky with traffic lights. Caught a green light. And another. And another. Red… come on baby turn – OH she’s green! Another Green. One after another, we raced to the airport with the slightest of hopes that we could catch this flight. 10:00AM. We’re so close.

We arrive at Miami International Airport, and it’s immediate chaos. I rip the massive bags out of the trunk, Dixie grabs the awkwardly colossal board bag out of the back seat, and we look like a couple of newborn horses running for our lives, tripping everywhere, running into walls. We get to the check in line and this lady has no idea that this is one of the most important flights of our lives.

“Flight number?”

Out of breath we simultaneously blabbered, “KX-103!”

“Ya’ll aint gonna get on that flight. Das leavin in 15 minutes, I can’t even let ya’ll check in with less than 30 minute fore the flight leave. No way. We gown put you on the 9:30PM flight tonight, and they gonna be a $200 reschedule fee for the boafayoos.”

My heart sank. We were defeated. Another airline let down to add to the list.

I started walking away from the counter in shere depression. Then I thought to myself… I’ve got to try harder than that. I know we can make this flight, and I damn sure do not feel like waiting in this airport for 11 hours.

I walked back up to the counter, and stared into the eyes of this woman and said, “Ma’am. We’re pretty fast. Is there any possible way that we can get on this flight. It really means a lot to us.”

“Honestly, there ain’t no way sweety, we still gotta get you check in, we gotta check yo bags, we gotta get you through security, and by then this plane gown be long gone!”

“We already checked in online.”

“But we still gotta-“

“We checked our bags too.”

“Well…”

She looked at the woman next to her who had overheard the situation. She raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Why not, let them try it.”

“Y’all better run. I’ll handle these bags. Good luck.”

I felt like a new man! There was hope again!

We sprinted to the security line, showed the attendant our boarding passes. She looked at me, looked at my boarding pass, and looked back up at me. She sighed, and open the rope barricade which led us to the front of the line, skipping hundreds of people.

Time was ticking. Every second was crucial. Every step I took I wondered if there was a way to do the next one faster. What if we missed it? Can we really make this flight? Is this even reality? What does Hasta Luego mean again? Questions flooded my mind. Panic set in as we tried interpreting signs for our gate.

“What gate are we!? Which way is it!” We ran in circles trying to find a sign to tell us which way to go.

I wish I could have clocked our speed, because I’m almost positive we could have tried out for the Jamaican 100 meter Olympic sprint team.

Passport on deck for speedy check-in

Passport on deck for speedy check-in

We made it to the gate. Wait, we made it to the gate!? Holy, what the, how in the…?! WE MADE IT!!! Euphoria swept over Dixie and I, when we realized that we made the impossible a reality. Just an hour later and we were landing in Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Just to continue the trend of airline mishaps, one of our bags went missing, but we didn’t care.

We were greeted at the Cayman Islands Airport by live caribbean reggae music.

We finally made it to the turquoise waters of paradise.

Miracles do happen.

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