November 19, 2007

Well, today we have to go home. Too bad, really, we were just getting used to the place. But our transfer to Tocumen Airport was at 7 am, so we got up around 6:15 am to finish packing and to eat a bit of breakfast. We looked for the sloths, but couldn’t find them in the bushy trees.

The route to the airport was very scenic, going along Avenida Balboa by the waterfront. It took half an hour to get there, but we had plenty of time to get through security and immigration. Even the broken printer that forced Continental to hand-write boarding passes wasn’t a problem. When we got to our gate, we had to go through another baggage search again, and the security people were not letting people take bottled water past there. We noticed that this didn’t apply to the gate next to ours, from which the flight was going to Havana.

Our flight left on time and the first leg, to Houston, was over clouds most of the way. They fed us ham and cheese (or chicken and cheese) sandwiches and we watched a Robin Williams movie named “License To Wed”. This was a nice way to waste some time.

In Houston we had to go through US immigration. There were two lines, one for US citizens and permanent residents and the other for visitors. So we stood in the slow-moving visitors line; but when we finally got to the agent, he told us that passengers transiting to Canada could go into the US line. Oh well, we had a nine-hour stopover anyway and, after inquiring while picking up our boarding passes, there were no earlier flights to Vancouver.

The first thing we did was to have some lunch. We got sandwiches, salads, and a drink, then we sat down to wait. We wrote our journals, did Sudoku puzzles, watched the airport activity outside, and wandered around. Then about 6 pm we decided to go looking for dinner. There were a couple of restaurants near where we were sitting, but down at the other end of the terminal there was a whole cluster of them with tables to sit at. One was a chicken (but not fried chicken) restaurant, so Rosemary had chicken in honey mustard sauce and Paul had incredibly hot curried chicken, both on rice with a salad. Paul had to have ice-cream after that to cool his mouth down.

Eventually the flight to Vancouver took off. There was a man trying to stow a cello, and another man with what looked like a viola case sitting in front of us. From his conversation we gathered that they were part of the Ysaÿe Quartet and that they had a concert tomorrow night in Vancouver. When the plane landed it was cold, just above freezing, and we didn’t really have much warm clothing. Caroline didn’t come to pick us up (later we found she had had to work until 4 am) so after a while we got a taxi and headed home that way.

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