Friday, May 31, 2013

Coming home from Jamaica

I was up early and starting to put things in my luggage. I heard others talking about going up early on the evening before they left to pack and wondered why they thought it would take some much time. After all, one does not have to wonder what to take home. Packing to go home is much easier; just take what you brought.

I was at breakfast about 7:00 and while wondering around the buffet when another conference participant asked if I had a table. I showed her where I was seated. She sat with me and ate quickly as she was catching a taxi to the bus station for a trip to Kingston. She had done a Fulbright in Jamaica and was going to Kingston to see her colleagues there before returning to the United States.

Up in my room for awhile I watched some TV. Then at 10:00 I went down to check out, earlier than we had planned for sharing the taxi, but found everyone else there ready to go, so we were off to the airport.

Check-in was by kiosks and then another line for checking in luggage and getting our "immigration form" attached to the boarding pass. We had plenty of time after clearing security so parted ways to look around the shops.

In a bookstore I found the selection above -- books about forms of government: communism, democracy, dictatorship, and fascism. I was really surprised. I looked at them and determined the reading level was for middle school or early high school. The books are well done; just seems like an odd choice for an airport book store.

Other things I saw were more predictable.

A bar named Jamaican Bobsled Team!

The big windows in each gate gave me a view of the Jamaican countryside just across the road.

The flight to Atlanta was quite bumpy, so bumpy that the captain said the flight attendants must also be seated for nearly 50% of the flight. One of the flight attendants said they had experienced the same conditions coming down from Atlanta, finding it hard to serve customers.

Passport control went smoothly in Atlanta, but I never got stamped back into the country. Next we picked up our luggage and rechecked it for the connecting flight.  A short walk brought us back again to security. After that step we could find our connecting gate. I had to get from Concourse E to A, but this time the train ran more quickly, stopping only about 30 seconds each time rather than 2 minutes each time as had happened when I was traveling to Jamaica.

For some unknown reason I was never able to book a flight directly to Minnesota and had to fly via Detroit. The flight to Detroit was easy, just a bit more than one hour.

The was my first time in this airport. We arrived at gate A6 and I quickly discovered my connecting gate was A78. My heart just dropped when I realized how long it had taken me to walk only to gate A8. Then I found a map and discovered there was a train. Soon I saw the escalator to the train and was off to the other end of the A concourse.

 We rocked and rolled across the Great Lakes to Minnesota, too. And that was after we sat on the tarmac for a bit of time with a very strange noise coming from the right side of the plane. The man in the seat next to me works for the airline and he wasn't concerned, so I tried to put my anxiety aside, too.

Called a taxi and then got home quickly, but in the course of the ride I did ask the driver once if he was lost, for he went round and round trying to get to Shephard Road.

All in all a good trip. I had many asking me if I would attend a similar conference in Washington, D.C. in October. Maybe, but want to wait until I see the conference agenda first.

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