17 November 2009


I’m in the airport at the boarding lounge, trying to write my first blog on this way-too-tiny mini netbook. At least I can pump up the font to a legible size.

It was more than the usual pre-flight anxiety as I sat in my driveway from 5:45 am until almost 6:30 waiting for the airport shuttle.

At first I was enjoying the cool, but not miserable cold, morning air and watching the stars above. I saw about 4 shooting stars which I assumed was an omen of good luck. But as the minutes ticked by, I began to panic. Never before had the shuttle been late and usually were 10 to 15 minutes early. I started to mentally devise ways to get to the airport by 6am. No one at home would have had the time to get me down to the BART (subway) station. I started to figure out if I could catch the bus then grab BART and still make it to the airport on time. The thought of dragging my bags on and off public transport, and the worse thought of possibly missing my flight, had me close to tears.
However, I had spent a fair amount of time getting that expensive make-up on and needed to look sharp at the gate so managed to halt the tears.

Reason I had to look nice? – aside from the fact that I will never travel in jammies and thermal underwear shirts, I was flying free courtesy of a friend who works for the airlines and had hooked me up with a free ticket. To not damage his reputation, and possibly get a first class seat, I needed to look smart.

Needless to say, the shuttle did arrive. The guy parked in the middle of the street; not a good idea when you live where I do. I told him to pull over which he sort of did.

He had gotten lost; something that used to be the norm but now with GPS, it shouldn’t happen.
As we headed down the hill I soon realized that his English was limited and he was driving like the madmen in Vietnam. I kept wanting to ask him to slow down, something I did with regularity in VN. It wasn’t until he was speeding and tailgating on the Bay Bridge that I spoke up.

I did get to the airport at 6:02, so hadn’t needed to worry so. And yes, I got there an hour before the check-in counter opened, so walked around looking at the fantastic museum section. The latest exhibit was of Mediterranean Pottery from the 4th, 5th, & 6th Century BCE. Beautiful stuff.
I got in line for the counter about 10 minutes before it opened. I was the first in line. That is until some middle-aged broad and her elderly father decided they were first in line. She was berating her dad to do this and that so I just ignored that she had cut in front of me.

I felt sorry for her dad when it was time to check in. They have these new, check-yourself-in kiosks and the agent kept telling him to “just follow the instructions”. To which the nasty daughter, instead of helping, said, “he doesn’t know how to do that”. Even if I had been first, I would have had difficulty.

When it was my turn I eventually got the agent understand that I had a standby ticket and all was sorted. As she was entering stuff into the computer I heard the guy next to me tell the agent that he had to check one of his bags because of the tattoo equipment. My ears perked up. He was a tattoo artist, going with equipment to PV, maybe this was my chance to finally get that tat that I have been planning for the past 6 years.

I ended up chatting with him in the boarding lounge. He’s going to be living down there doing all sorts of artist fun-sounding stuff. And now I am sitting on the plane mind-designing that tattoo. That, and getting very adept at this micro-keyboard.
It’s now night time in PV. I am still amazed at how a short, 3 hour flight can land me in another foreign, exotic place. My last trips have been so long and god-awful, that one is not surprised that life is so vastly different. But this just feels odd, though lovely.

I’ve been speaking Spanish since I got off the plane and am pretty much holding my own. No one seems to mind, or even give me a strange look when half a sentence comes out in Portuguese.
And my little abode: Oh my god! It is beyond my wildest imagination of what I was in for. I have a studio apartment that is larger and nicer than many places I have lived. It’s big and airy with a small balcony and roomy kitchen, a sofa, table, and lots of drawers and large closet.

Wanting to avoid my usual routine of arriving at the hotel then immediately setting off in search of a desk lamp so that I can avoid fluorescent lighting, I brought one with me. (for once the electrical current is the same as in the US). And what do you know, but my little home does not have one florescent light!

The only possible, minor drawback is that the WIFI doesn’t reach up here to the 4th floor, so I have to go down to the lobby to get online. I hadn’t even been sure that they had internet at all so, as I said, it is a minor inconvenience.

Did I mention the heat? I got off the plane and inhaled as deeply as humanly possible, having forgotten the intense pleasure I derive from heat and humidity. It actually is getting a bit cooler outside right now, but oooohhhh, to sit in my house in the bare minimum of clothing, with all the windows open and the fan going. Yes, I am deliriously happy.

Tomorrow I will start the exploratios.
(pic is SFO at 6am)