We were already packed for our return the next day. So when we awoke early the next morning, we only had to shower and throw our night things into the bags to be ready to depart for the airport. Sean, Woody, Katy and I went to the hotel lobby for quick coffee and Danish before rushing to the airport. There we saw many others of our dive party also getting a quick bite before leaving and loading up dive gear into vehicles. Woody had already loaded all of ours into our barely large enough car. He was just very capable and dependable that way. Eventually, we headed off for Hato Airport.
When we arrived, we unloaded the car, and Woody returned it. We checked in and checked our luggage. Then we hurried to the gate only to find out that our flight from San Juan Puerto Rico was delayed by 1 hour due to a storm. We groaned with dismay and wondered if we would make our connecting flight home which we had 2 hours to make. We knew that we had to clear US customs in Puerto Rico and that could take significant time. And so we waited.
About an hour later, our flight arrived from San Juan and the passengers deplaned. The plane was turned around, and we were allowed to board.
We deplaned and rushed to the next gate to see about our flight home; it was cancelled.
The ticketing area was just like this but bigger with more lines and mobbed with unhappy people and their luggage.
There were only the 11 of us from our dive group that were on it and so they just cancelled it. Just like that. Gone. No more. I remember standing there thinking, well shit. We are so shit out of luck. What now? Then a representative from the airline steps up and says loudly, “All of those people, who were expecting to be on flight xxx that was just cancelled, follow me.”
So we followed him. He led us straight to the huge ticketing area for the airline that was just plain mobbed and left us there to fend for ourselves. We were abandoned with the masses of people. Nothing special was planned for us. Again, we were SOL. But, we had 11 people, so we each split up and got on separate lines to get to the front more quickly. Eventually, one of us got to the front of a line and then all of us went to that line to find out about flights going to where we wanted for all of us.
Unfortunately, one guy was at the end of his rope and began freaking out. He threw a total shit fit and went off at the ticket agent. Completely useless, in my opinion, what had she to do with the mess we were in? In any event, they were able to accommodate all of us accept for him on a flight leaving sooner than the flight we were originally booked on but on a different airline. Strange isn’t it how they couldn’t accommodate him until much later (yet they were able to accommodate his wife who uttered not a peep)? But then, we had to rush around to clear customs.
If we thought there was a mob at the ticket counter, it was because we hadn’t seen the zoo in the customs area. The customs area was at least 100,000 square feet (two football fields side-by-side) and wall-to-wall people. There were faux lines. In other words, ropes were being used, but only some people were paying attention to them. Many people didn’t know what the lines they were in were for. But they stood in them doggedly like sheep, for hours at a time as if they had nothing better to do with their lives. Not us. We were in a hurry. We had to hustle. But, there were now 10 of us looking for a quick way through the lines. We had to go through customs; clear the agriculture check and then go through customs again. The agriculture check guy was just sitting there with a stamp and asked if you bought any fruit or vegetables and then stamped your tags. Total bullshit. We pushed and shoved, and pushed and shoved our way across the whole building three times to get it done, probably pissing off lots of people, and we did it trailing all of our luggage behind us. We were all in a full sweat when we were done.
Next, we needed to clear security again to get to the gate. So we took off at a run to get there. All 10 of us stood there panting stopped at the first checkpoint. We all got selected for the special security check. Oh joy! We all had to take our shoes off, they opened all of our bags, looked at all of the dive equipment, cameras… It was going to take forever! We would never make our flight! Worse than that, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing and all acted as if they were in training! They couldn’t put Sean’s camera back together and he had to help them. Sigh. So finally, we are back together and running to make our flight, and there is another security checkpoint. Disaster! They stop us and check us again!!!! We protest that we have already been checked thoroughly, but they insist we take off our shoes. All 10 of us take off our shoes! AGAIN!!! They look at them and one-by-one as we are cleared we sprint to our flight, promising that we will hold the plane when we get there.
I get to the plane early on and tell the flight crew that more are coming and are held up at security. Their response, “We will depart on time. If they make it that’s great.”
“You mean you would leave without passengers that are here, just down the hall?”
“Yes to be on time.”
I just shook my head and got on the plane. I could see Sean coming right behind me. At least he had made it. I found my seat and sat down. Sean and I counted and all 10 us got on the flight. We all high-fived when a new member of our dive group boarded. We all made it and we were on our way home. What a way to end an adventure. I am never flying through San Juan again. Not if I can help it. That is for sure. What a fucking circus that place is.
By the way, the one passenger that lost his temper got home the next day.
Anyhow, as we bid a fond farewell to Curacao, here are some photos that didn’t fit into any posts: