August 13, 2009

San Francisco to Miami to Guatemala – Planes, Trains and Airport Shuttles

On the plane traveling from San Francisco to Miami, I began reflecting on my rather convoluted travel plans. I flew from Kingston to Miami on the morning of August 6, and then from Miami to San Francisco that evening.

My first night in San Francisco, I stayed at a hotel near the airport. That worked out pretty well. I took the shuttle to the hotel where I was staying – the Howard Johnson in San Bruno. The hotel was actually quite clean and comfortable. At $60 a night, with free wireless, breakfast, and an airport shuttle all included, it was quite a bargain. I woke up early on August 7, took the airport shuttle back to the airport, and got the BART into Berkeley. That took a couple of hours, but I arrived at the conference right on time.

I had my carry-on luggage with me, and went straight from Berkeley to my hotel in downtown San Francisco, where I was sharing a room at the Metropolis Hotel. The Metropolis was a nice hotel, with friendly staff and attractive decor. Two of the perks are free coffee in the morning and free wine in the evening. The beds were also very comfortable. It was a bit more pricey than the Howard Johnson, but I managed to pay about the same by sharing a room with two other women. As I spent little time in the hotel room, that worked out quite well.

Once the conference was over on the afternoon of August 11, I took the BART back to the airport, and took a shuttle to my hotel by the airport. This time I stayed at Citi Gardens Hotel. It was a little less nice than the Howard Johnson at San Bruno, but closer to the airport, and certainly passable. I particularly liked the modern implements in the bathroom and the nice green space of the hotel. I woke up in the morning, had the free breakfast, and took the free airport shuttle back to the airport.

On August 12, I spent the night in Miami before flying to Guatemala the next day. Taking my time this way allowed me to save money in addition to taking things slowly and resting quite a bit. The drawback has been how long it will take me to actually arrive in Guatemala. Had I taken a red eye to Miami on August 11, I could have flown to Guatemala on August 12, and gotten there a full day beforehand. Of course, I would have arrived completely exhausted, as it is never really possible to get a good night's sleep on a red eye, especially one that is only five hours.

Instead, I had about ten hours of sleep on a comfortable bed in San Francisco and arrived in Miami fully rested. My plane landed at 9:30pm, and I made it to the hotel before 10pm. I was very lucky, as the shuttle was waiting for me at the airport. It took about five minutes to get to the Days Inn Airport North. The hotel, again, was decent. My room was super large, and was right next to the pool and the garden.

I arrived with an empty stomach, and was pleased to hear there was a Peruvian restaurant, Peru Place, three blocks from the airport. When I got to the restaurant, there was a soccer match between Costa Rica and Honduras, and the place was packed. The hostess told me they were charging entry because of the game, but she let me in to place a to-go order.

I looked around the restaurant and realized that the place was filled with Costa Ricans. When I asked a gentleman about it, he told me the Hondurans were at the restaurant next door. Who knows how they worked it out that the Costa Ricans would be at the Peruvian restaurant and the Hondurans at the Latin American restaurant, but it was something probably unique to Miami, or other global cities. For me, it made a simple trip to get something to eat much more interesting.

Back at the hotel with my pollo a la brasa, I found out that the hotel shuttle will drop me off at the Tri-Rail, which is the train I need to take to get to the Fort Lauderdale airport in the morning. This is all working out better than I expected. The airport shuttle leaves on the hour, so I can get the 7am shuttle to take the 7:39am Tri-Rail.

I arrive in Guatemala around 11:30 am on August 13. I will see my husband and kids for the first time in a week. I can't wait to see them. I am sure the kids will be unkempt, but I might be pleasantly surprised, as Tatiana and Soraya are getting better at brushing their own hair. I braided their hair into little braids before I left, but I can't be sure that will have lasted this long.

Funny that their hair would be on my mind. I suppose there are all other kinds of things I could be worried about with Nando and the kids in Guatemala City for the first time. Actually, Nando, the twins, and I were in Guatemala City in 2002, but just for a day. We spent three weeks traveling around Guatemala, and made a stop in the capital. In any event, Nando is quite resourceful, and I bet he has traveled all around the city with the girls, even though that can be challenging.

We have barely spoken since I left Miami. Nando called me when he boarded the plane to Guatemala on Sunday to let me know the plane was about to take off. And, I called our rental agent on Sunday afternoon to ask her if Nando had arrived. She assured me he had. Other than that, we have had no communication. I arrive in Guatemala City on the afternoon of August 13th, and will take a taxi to our apartment. Hopefully Nando and the girls will be there to let me in. If not, I will sit my well-rested self down and wait.

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