I had just left my dad behind and headed through security and was now waiting for the first plane of my journey to board. I started to walk around the duty free, eyeing up what I would buy on my way back. As departure time neared I decided to send one final tweet.
“My first flight lands in Chicago, I hope I don’t end up sitting next to Del Griffith!”
48 hours later I would start to realise the irony of such a tweet for the journey I endured could well be the screen play for Planes Trains and Automobiles 2.
The flight was OK and I arrived in Chicago on time, I was fast tracked through immigration and collected my luggage, then checked the said luggage onto the next flight and waited in Chicago O’Hare Airport for my connecting flight to Houston.
With my belly still full of nervous excitement I was in complete awe of a real Deep South American bloke who was at the same gate as me, I mean had only ever seen these before on TV. He looked so deep south it hurt. He had hob nail boots on, a pair of sand blasted jeans with belt resting just below the tip of his sizeable arse crack, a XXL orange demolition derby t-shirt hanging like a drape over his grand belly and then perched on the top of his hairy bearded head with eyes like piss holes in snow, was a black baseball cap with flames on.
Now I'm not one to prejudge people but I'm pretty sure at some point in this blokes life he has hit a rat with a shovel!
Still unaware that anything was wrong I set off on my next leg to Houston Texas. Unfortunately my luggage didn’t seem that excited to go to Houston (and after the quality of service I received from the receptionist at the Country Inn I don’t blame him) so decided to stay in Chicago. Unfortunately my luggage didn’t feel the need to tell me he was staying behind so I stood there like a lemon looking at the carousel as one by one everybody else's bags were collected!
Now when I spoke to people about my trip to Guatemala and the fact I would have to stop off in Houston I was repeatedly reminded that there is a severe lack of humour on show in American airports and therefore I should refrain from cracking any jokes, with this in mind imagine my surprise as the first thing I sighted upon my arrival at Houston airport was a 10 foot cow dressed as astronaut.
After speaking to the lost luggage representative I headed to the hotel where I had a reservation. I arrived at the Country Inn 15555b JFK Blvd (I have put the full name and address down just in case you were thinking of staying there, so that you can instead book a stay in the local gutter for a more pleasurable experience!)
Despite the room already being paid for, the extremely unhelpful woman was insistent on charging me again for my room. By this point my blood was starting to boil, luckily a phone call from the co-ordinator of my trip was timed to perfection and the room situation was sorted just before I was about to recreate a scene very similar to this one.
My luggage finally turned up, broken, about half an hour before I had to leave for my next flight to Guatemala City. At this point I was starting to feel like the lead role in Rhod Gilbert's missing luggage routine.
I sat down on my the plane ready for the final leg of my flight calm in the realisation that not much more could possibly go wrong and soon I would be in my 4* hotel in Antigua, Guatemala. I made small talk with a random Japanese lad sat next to me who spoke no English. It was a struggle but the flight was only a couple of hours so the awkwardness of conversation would be a distant memory soon enough. Minute after minute passed and we were still sat on board the plane waiting to take off, after half a hour the announcement came, we all had to get off the plane as there was a mechanical fault.
It was at this point a number of us realised we were all on the same Gap Community Corps trip to Antigua and started introducing ourselves to one another. The final person to introduce himself was the Japanese lad who it turned out would be my roommate for the next week! Bring on the small talk.
We waited for about another hour for the next plane to arrive, we boarded, sat down, only to be informed there was a small electrical fault with this plane that had to be corrected before we could take off.
We were soon in the air watching captain America as the in-flight film. It was an interesting choice of film as it is filmed in Manchester where I am from and where my journey had begun but also because the film climaxes in a massive plane crash.
Just as Captain America was heading at speed for the ice and snow in his plane, an announcement came over the speakers. “I am sorry but due to adverse weather conditions we are unable to land in Guatemala and due to lack of fuel we will have to land in Honduras.”
After a stop in Honduras for an hour or so and a re-fuel we were back in the air and ready to land in Guatemala, the relief was evident as we landed in Guatemala with people bursting into spontaneous applause! We left the airport and got on the bus provided ready for our Guatemalan adventure to begin...
...Coming soon Part 3, Ive been working on the railroad