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One long, long day


The day began with an early morning wake-up of 3am so that would give us plenty of time to catch our 6am flight to Miami. Having not slept until after 11pm, we were very groggy. But at least we got to use some miles to get that rare upgrade to 1st class.
The flight went by uneventfully. In between getting some much needed sleep and having food, we also spent some time reading guidebooks about Thailand in anticipation of an end-of-the-year trip there.
After 2pm, we got to the Miami International Airport. Since we had to take a different airline to connect to Guyana by way of Trinidad & Tobago, we had to walk all the way from one side of the airport to the other!

Eventually, we got to the J Concourse where we made our bookings. Unfortunately, the conveyor belt wasn't working and they made us check in our bags (even though I swear I saw other passengers able to carry on similarly sized small luggages).
It was a good thing we stayed behind and watched the porters load the bags onto a cart (instead of heading right to the security check line) because Julie's bag was almost left behind by the check-in desk!
Finally at about 3:15pm, we made it past security and proceeded to have some subpar Jamaican Jerk Chicken at the J Terminal. We had learned from one of the televisions that Hurricane Gustav had just become a category 4! On top of that, Tropical Storm Hanna was developing to the east of Florida. We were hoping that neither of these storms would cause us any problems when we return from Guyana nor when we leave for Guyana.
By 4:30pm, we took off from the airport and made the 3.5-hour flight to a stop at the Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago. The flight was packed.
We'd eventually arrive at the Port of Spain some time after 8pm. We were going to rest comfortably for the next 90 minutes before the flight would take off for Georgetown, but then we heard an announcement over the PA that the plane needed maintenance and we had to get our stuff and de-plane.
With the recent air disasters that took place in Spain and Iran, and the difficulties that Qantas had been having on many of their flights, we hoped that we didn't have to use the current plane to make the last hour-long leg to Georgetown, Guyana.
And so we proceeded down several corridors before finally seeing a line starting to build up at a transfer desk. We weren't sure if we were doing the right thing or not because the folks here didn't seem to provide any instruction on what the Guyana-bound passengers were supposed to do.
It turned out that we got to the right queue as we eventually received boarding passes with hand-written names, gates, and other info on there.
Talk about old school!
"Seems like nothing is working today," said Julie. "First it's the conveyor belt, then it's the plane, and now their ticketing computer isn't working."
Then, we proceeded towards another line where a crowd of people were already waiting for an elevator door to open. It was strange they couldn't just let us take some stairway back to the departure gates. Once we got out of the elevator, we proceeded to another security check, but the folks manning this station seemed very unfriendly (even by US TSA standards). In any case, we'd eventually get to Gate 14 by 9:15pm.
It didn't seem like we were at the right gate because it was empty and everyone else seemed to be huddled around Gate 12. Julie noticed that the monitor had our flight for Gate 12.
Still, there was no replacement plane in sight through the windows. So it looked like we were going to be delayed even checking in to our lodge in Georgetown. Given that our day tour to
Kaieteur Falls was early morning tomorrow, it seemed that we're not going to have a good night's sleep.
Finally at 9:45pm, we saw a different plane than the one we took show up at Gate 14. By now, Gate 14 had become considerably busier. We also started conversing with a pair of elderly women from Baltimore who started living in Georgetown, Guyana for 4 and 8 years respectively.
They were surprised to hear that we'd be leaving for Los Angeles the day after tomorrow.
Nonetheless, we had learned from them that Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America, but they consider themselves more Caribbean than South American. Not only that, they said it would be the last day of Carifesta, which was a festival and gathering of Caribbean nations to share their arts and culture. And all these nations were converging on Guyana because they were hosting this year's festival for the first time in thirty years.
That might explain why our Miami-Georgetown plane tickets were so expensive!
We had also learned that even though Guyana is east of Venezuela, they're still on East Coast Time because they don't observe daylight savings and the US does. Thus, we at least didn't have to jump ahead another hour!
Anyways, many of the passengers couldn't wait to get on the replacement plane so they went right up to the desk and asked the employees when we'd start boarding.
When we asked one of the inquiring minds what the staff told him, he told us, "Just now."
"Oh good," said Julie.
But just before we could have a sense of relief, the two elderly ladies we were talking to brought us back down to earth.
"'Just now' could be five minutes, 1 hour, or all day," said one of them. "They're never specific about what that means."
I guess it's just like Tahitians going on Tahiti time, Fijians going on Fiji time, etc. Bottom line is that no one here is in a hurry.
Eventually by 10:45pm, we finally started boarding. Once again, it was a full flight. And fifteen minutes later, we mercifully took off once again...
By 12pm, we landed at the airport. And by 1am, we finally collected our bags after going through immigration before that. The taxi driver who waited for us said (in his noticeably thick Rastafarian accent) he had waited since 9pm.
Anyways, we quickly took off in his car. He was driving rather quickly for us to feel safe. It seemed like he liked to hug the painted middle line even though there was oncoming traffic (some of whom wouldn't turn off their high beams). We also went through a couple of now-familiar road blocks (we saw plenty of these in Africa).
We did manage to see some bright lights and people loitering in the streets nearby a stadium. That must've been where Carifesta X was taking place!
Finally at 1:30am, we arrived at the quiet Herdmanston Lodge. Even at this late of an hour, it was very humid. Plus, the mosquitoes wasted no time taking pot shots at us inside the room.
It wasn't until around 2:30am when we started to nod off under the mosquito-netted bed. But before we could get some kind of rest (knowing we were waking up at 6am), someone kept making noises outside at 3am. I couldn't tell if someone was popping balloons or what, but in any case, we probably weren't going to have.
 Julie and Robert

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