Thursday, September 20, 2018
5:45PM PDT: Since I finally got connected to the internet here at the Portland International Airport, I decided that I would do a bit of blogging about my trip, in case there was someone who was curious about it. Since I will not be arriving in Suriname until tomorrow evening, there will be a lot of time to write, and that is not time that will be wasted as far as I am concerned. I had some posts in mind to write but I did not have time last night or this morning and the internet was not working at home anyway, so here it is. Since I will be gone from Portland for more than two weeks this year, I decided not to drive through rush hour traffic to pay more than $150 for parking, and rode the MAX all the way to the airport from Hillsboro. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I did get to sit for most of the time and I did not have to wait too long and the trip was about as long as it would have been by car for the low price of $2.50, but on the other hand, the MAX is not made for people traveling to the airport. The Blue Line, which goes from Hillsboro to Gresham, has some stairs which can be a challenge when one has a large suitcase and a heavy backpack as well as viola. I ended up traveling that line through downtown Portland, where clearing seats for other passengers without blocking the aisle was a major difficulty, until I got to the Gateway Transit Station, at which point I transferred to the Red Line and met a few other passengers going to the airport, some of them with backpacks and suitcases, although none of them as large as mine. I suppose everyone else has read The Accidental Tourist and decided to bring only the smallest bags possible, while I come from a school of that that believes in overpacking to the hilt. Anyway, when I got through check-in and security (where someone, for perhaps the first time ever, asked me if I played the violin or the viola instead of assuming it was a violin or guitar), I met up with a local church family I spend a lot of time with who is traveling to Atlanta through Seattle. I was asked to help the husband of the couple find his rental car reservation and then to see where their gate was located, and we found out that their flight was delayed a couple of hours while mine was on time, but they were already at the correct gate. And so I went over to chat with them and do a bit of writing before 6PM, when it was time for me to get on my flight and finish that Bonhoeffer book I’ve been working on yesterday and today. Aside from being a bit tired, I am very hungry and thirsty. Since I have three hours or so in Phoenix, I will be seeing you all in a few hours, and I will see if the minimal snacks on the flight are enough to sate my considerable hunger. Until then, I hope you are having a wonderful day.
Friday, September 21, 2018
8:55AM EDT: I was going to write an update when I was in Phoenix, seeing I was there for more than three hours. Unfortunately, Phoenix has particularly terrible wifi and I was unable to use the internet on my computer and I did not feel like typing an update on my phone. So, while I sit in the American Airlines baggage claim at Miami waiting for my folks to arrive from Tampa, I will give an update on how things went. The flight from Portland to Phoenix was enjoyable, and I managed to finish the Bonhoeffer book. I had gotten to my gate after chatting with friends right on time to get into my flight in Group 6. Upon getting to Phoenix, though, there were plenty of annoyances. It was striking to me that on the flight from Portland to Phoenix that we were all traveling alone. Although the plane had not a single empty seat, there was little interaction between people and almost everyone was focused on their own screen or drinking their bottle of Dos Equis and eating some beef jerky like the fellow next to me. Phoenix was not a particularly friendly airport–not only did it have bad wifi but the people of my flight were so intent to crowd the area in front of the gate that it felt immensely claustrophobic for those of us that like a little bit of space. I managed to end up waiting for my delayed flight with a nurse on her way to Grand Exhuma and swimming with the pigs on one side and a hobbled woman with a foot boot on her way back home to Miami on the other side who talked about her gimping (a subject I am very familiar with ) as well as her travels. Shortly before we got on the plane I met up with a fellow UCG member who I know slightly and we chatted about my writing and his management of a group for a rival religious organization. Meanwhile my mom sent me messages for last minute information and the friends I had talked to at the Portland Airport were still stranded in the airport as a result of a series of delays for Alaska Air. Meanwhile, once I got on the Miami flight I was pretty sleepy and managed to sleep almost the entire flight, except for waking up in the middle of the flight when my right knee was bothering me a bit. Of course, the fact that I got no food or even water on the Phoenix to Miami flight is bothering me, but soon my folks will arrive and we will be able to deal with such mundane affairs after we get their luggage and check back in to Caribbean Airways.
1:23PM EDT: Although it was quite later than I expected, I ended up being able to meet up with my parents by the baggage claim for their flight, which was right next to the baggage claim for my own flight. Miami airport is quite interesting, in that it has long distances but little in the way of people movers, large spaces but little in the way of seats for people to rest their feet. My stepfather came to the area in a wheelchair, and my mum, him and I and the person pushing my stepfather’s wheelchair (since his sense of balance is not very well) went from the baggage claim to the ticketing area for our next flight. This did not prove to be a very simple process, not nearly as simple as one would think, since we first went to one area and the attendant asked for directions, and then to another area, and then to the first area again, and then to the second once again, all while I was quite irritated and exhausted by the wasted effort and general incompetence. Once we finally got to the area near the ticketing booth for Surinam Airways, we claimed some seats and put our luggage down. Not too long after that my stepfather and I had lunch at the Chili’s Too that is nearby, and it was tasty, and I got some cash for the trip, which will hopefully hold out. At any rate, at this point we have about half an hour or so until they start checking in and there is already a large and diverse crowd with a lot of luggage waiting in line before the ticketing crew has even arrived. These are not people who like to waste time even if our flight does not leave for hours.
 See, for example: