12 June 2010

The trip home

(San Sal airport)

I got up around 6. There was running water so I had a lovely hot shower. I finished packing and tidying the room Marcia and I had stayed in. We had breakfast and said our goodbyes then left for the airport around 8. Kathy had heard there was a bridge out around San Vincente and didn’t know if it had been repaired yet so she didn’t want to chance taking the usual route to the airport. We went another way that was slightly longer but was sure to go through.

We saw 4 dead dogs in the road on the way. I’ve always been amazed that we don’t see more roadkill considering that everything runs loose but in all the times I’ve been here, I’ve very rarely seen ANY roadkill. 4 times today seems kind of remarkable.

We followed a cane truck for a while that had several guys on top of the cane. They were horsing around and I was afraid one or more of them would fall off. One of them got off at a police stop then the truck turned off the highway shortly after that so we didn’t have to follow it anymore.

We got to the airport and said our goodbyes to Kathy and Joe. Almost as soon as we entered the airport, I started coughing. We noticed that all the staff were wearing face masks and wondered why. After we got our tickets, the agent told us we might want to wait outside for about 20 minutes since they were spraying pepper gas. Then he said no, his supervisor said we should go straight to the gates on the upper floors where the air would be better. I couldn’t stop coughing, I had SUCH a tickly in the back of my throat. But once we got through the security station and to the gate area, I was fine.

All bags get searched at the gate on entry. I went in; Marcia went walking. Our plane’s status is On Time. We should be on our way in about and hour or so.


I spent most of the flight knitting, since I had an aisle seat and there was no one next to me. There was a little old lady in the window seat and I greeted her when I sat down. She didn’t have a book or travel companion or anything so she must have been kind of bored. She would engage me in conversation periodically. Sra Maria is 78 years old. She’s on her way to Chicago to visit her children and grandchildren for 3 months. It’s her 8th trip there.

She started by asking me if I were a student. I told her no and a little about the project in Berlin. She lives in Ilopango but knew where Berlin is. She asked if the churches involved in the Berlin projects were Catholic or Evangelical. I said they were different…Presbyterian, mostly. She said she was Evangelical.

She also has a son in Guatemala that she goes to visit. I told her it’s great that she can travel like that. She said that she has some pain in her legs and it’s not always easy but Gracias a Dios she still gets around.

When they passed out the Customs and Immigration forms, she said something I wasn’t catching but eventually asked her if she wanted help filling them out. She said yes and handed me her passport and tickets. I put down the tray table between us and started filling out her forms. When it came to the questions that couldn’t be answered from the passport, I read them to her (and tried to explain them when she didn’t understand them) then recorded her answers. There was a spot at the bottom of one of the forms for her to sign and when I told her that, she said, “No puedo” (I can’t) which is when I understood what she’d been trying to tell me earlier…that she couldn’t read or write.
One of the forms was one I’d not seen before and I wasn’t sure what to do with some of the questions so I stopped a flight attendant to ask her. She said she’d been meaning to get back to Sra Maria to help her and thanked me greatly for stepping in to help. She took the form and Maria’s passport and then brought them back filled out. I handed everything back to her and told her everything was complete. She thanked me and tried to give me $3 for helping her. I wouldn’t accept it and told her I was happy to help.

Leaving the plane I wished her a good trip to Chicago and went up the jetway. There was a whole line of wheelchairs waiting and I assumed one was for her.

I had no problems through Customs and Immigration. There was a HUGE line at security but it ran like a well-oiled machine and it didn’t take as long as it looked like it was going to to get through. The rest of the trip home was completely uneventful