David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Travel Adventure

We left for the airport Sunday afternoon to stay at the convenient park and fly hotel for early morning departure. At 4:00 Monday morning, much to our surprise, a small delegation from our synod was also on their way to El Salvador. We thought they left Sunday so the surprise was a pleasant one as we enjoyed conversation and time together on the trip. The delegation is participating in a gathering of the Lutheran churches from various locations in the US and Europe that have sister parish relationships in El Salvador. Due to heavy storms, we landed in Atlanta late and had to run to the international departure gate. The Atlanta baggage handlers on the other hand decided “what’s the rush?” As the delegation that originated from Milwaukee noticed the Salvadoran airport baggage belt void of any of our luggage, we knew what happened. Many other late arrivals at the gate had the same experience. Our baggage was promised for early Tuesday afternoon. That would give the baggage handlers 24 hours to move 58 bags a thousand feet on their trucks and carts used for such purpose. Francisco was to pick us up at the airport but it’s late and did he wait? When I completed the claim process I started to look for him and was overwhelmed with taxi drivers swarming me, blocking my way. I said I am looking for a specific motorist. A moment later Francisco’s brother, Alexi, walked up behind me and said “you’re going to Hotel Mariscal.” I recognized him; he was our driver in March and his children attend the public school where we are implementing additional grades and classrooms. This came together nicely. When we arrived at our hotel our clothing was drenched in sweat and smelled. We went to the mall next door to our hotel to purchase some replacement clothing. In the underwear department, the young man and I couldn’t determine what size was correct, so he said he would model it. It’s a term lost in translation; it wasn’t what it sounded like. After a very hot shower, clean clothes and a cold beer, at day’s end, we said it was a great First Day. Alexi arranged for his brother to pick us up at 12:30 to return to the airport. On the way I told Francisco what process we were told to follow. He said no way. I will go with you to guide you. We entered the main entrance of the airport and went to Information office. We had to leave our drivers licenses at Information office to secure a red entry pass. At the immigration/customs/baggage area, we experienced a heavy security search and headed to baggage claim. No one was attending the Delta counter. We then considered our red pass was available for “free range” and looked at every piece of luggage we could find with no luck. An agent approached us and said give me your paper work and I will track them down and told us where to stand. Then another Milwaukee person spotted Nancy and said your luggage is with the Synod delegation. So Nancy disobeyed orders and found our luggage. I was watching and joined her. The agent had abandoned his search for our luggage and was helping another traveler. We got our papers from him and returned to customs. The same agent from yesterday redirected us to another luggage scanner. The people in front of us were having many problems. We had none when it was our turn. Happily leaving the airport with Francisco, we stopped for pupusas and got 16 to share with friends at the hotel. On opening our suitcases for eating utensils and other supplies, we discovered that they had apparently been left on the cart in the rain in Atlanta. Most of our clothing was in plastic bags but clothes for tomorrow were not and were soaked. The hotel clothes dryer is broken, but between the hair dryer and the iron and enjoying freshly made pupusas, Day Two was another great day. David y Nancy