It's Wednesday morning, early. I look at my phone and it says 6:15. Unable to fall asleep, I turn off the 7:15 alarm. The next hour passes by quickly. At 7:45, we head to the airport. The lady has a morning flight to Guatemala City and I will follow in the afternoon. We are heading there to attend a wedding. It's my first trip to Central America.
We encounter some morning rush hour traffic but nothing to stress about. After I drop her off, I start to dread the drive back because of all the commuters heading into DC for work. Surprisingly, it is all clear and I'm back by 9:20.
I got plenty to do and the clock is ticking. I start with breakfast, then some work stuff on the computer, and after 10 stop by the mall to exchange a dress shirt. It all goes smoothly.
Back to the apartment and to the task I've been procrastinating on for days...packing. I like to travel but I don't like packing. It's a five day trip and I figure one large checked bag will suffice. No carry-on at all. I'm taking the metro (and an airport bus) and I rather just deal with one bag. The flight is at 3pm and I should be on my way by 11:30.
It's 11 and I'm in deep thought, Do I take this, do I bring that, don't forget the wedding attire. And then, out of nowhere, "MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. May I have your attention please. A fire has been detected in the building. Please exit the building using the stairs. Do not use the elevators."
Wow, I think to myself, could there have been a worse time. Could it be a fire drill. Usually they leave a notice or something as a heads up but nothing this time. Crap, it could really be a fire. 20 story building, it was only a matter of time before some idiot accidentally burnt something. I open my door and all is calm. I don't smell smoke. The voice over the intercom repeats the message several times. Fuck it, I roll the dice and keep packing. Time is ticking away. Five minutes later, the voice speaks again and says, "That completes the fire test." I laugh and shake my head. Back to packing.
11:45 and I'm finally out the door. One final check, passport, wallet, phone, keys...off we go. I luck out at the metro station. The train arrives as I step onto the platform. At the Reston metro station I catch the airport bus. 90 minutes after leaving the apartment and $9 less in my wallet, I arrive at the International Airport Dulles.
I had booked my ticket thru United with points. I get to the United check-in kiosk and it's not busy at all! Smooth sailing, my thought. I input my info and I get a message that the flight is operated by a Star Alliance partner, Avianca. I make a 180 degree turn and there they are. About 100 people waiting to check-in.
I join the line but realize that there is a second, smaller, line just for bag drop off. I switch lines and finish my online check in. I drop the bag off and head to security and gate B50.
I reach the gate after 2pm and start looking for an outlet to charge my phone. It only takes me a second to remember that the charger is in the checked bag. Dagger.
Battery power is at 40%. I have a 4 hour flight to El Salvador and a 90 minute layover before my flight to Guatemala City. 40% is like holding pocket jacks. It's not bad but it can quickly go downhill. I let the airport take advantage of me and purchase a USB-to-Micro USB cable for $10. To ease the pain, I also get a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. All set, I get in line to board the plane.
I end up getting a window seat which luckily has a USB port. As I pull out the brand new cable, I think, Money well spent.
The seat next to me was empty so I had plenty of room. I end up watching two movies. Ex Machina was great and I recommend it. Taken 2 was OK.
Five hours after leaving Washington, I find myself sitting in the San Salvador airport having a cold local beer and thinking, This is the closest I've been to crossing the equator.