Friday, August 26

Journal: Wednesday August 17, 5:25 PM

Greetings. Its about 5:25 PM Guatemala time, and I'm in the air on the way to Guatemala City.

The airport stuff, check-in, security, etc, all went fine. One funny thing that happened when going through the baggage check area. The man asked me about various items being sneaked in my bags without my knowledge, and any weapons I might have stored, and then he asked me if I had any film, cameras or disposable cameras in my bags. I paused, looked at my older brother who came with me, and then said, "Uh, no. I don't carry any of those things with me." I smiled and the baggage guy said, "Well, you never can tell." As we were walking away, he called after us, "I've been surprised before."

Everything else went fine. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy going through security was. My brother and I walked down to another security check point that was farther from the initial entrance and ticketing area, but which ended up having a lot less people in line. My brother said that if we had stayed at the first one, we might have waited easily an hour before going through. In the second one, we only waited about 10 minutes or so. Anyway, usually when I go through security, for whatever reason, I set off the metal detector and they end up having to hand scan me. This didn't happen this time though, much to my relief. We found my gate easily, though it had one of the higher gate numbers so we walked for quite awhile. Everything else went smoothly.

About a half hour before boarding, I got a skycap to assist me to a nearby Subway mini-restaurant and got my dinner for the flight. I had been told some conflicting things about getting even drinks on board, so I went ahead and got a meal and a drink. However, as it turned out, I might not have needed to. They offered, for a fee of course, a couple of food options, like a snack box and sandwich and other things, and the usual sodas and other beverages. I thought this was good, and was much relieved by it frankly.

There was about a half hour delay before takeoff. There had been some thunderstorms south of the airport, and though they were over, the runways were slowly being opened back up. They said we could use our cell phones though, so I called my mother and told her of the delay, which she appreciated hearing about.
Other than those minor events, things are going good so far. I'll write more later about arriving, going through customs and meeting up with my parents. One other thing that I was pleasantly surprised with: the head flight attendant was very nice, and didn't seem to be thrown by assisting me in filling out the immigration cards and in getting assistance in going through customs and such. I don't mean to imply that I expected him to have reservations in these things, but in my experience in about 12 years of flying, often, flight attendants can get nervous when you say that you'll need assistance. I'm not on the ground yet, so perhaps I shouldn't get too complementary of him, :) Anyway, some of them, when you say you need help, start asking rapid fire questions and assuming you'll need a wheelchair and such. That brings up a whole other issue: basically, since I can walk, I don't need a wheelchair. Blindness is a sensory disability, not a mobile one, as it seems many people mistake it for.

I did, as it is my custom, offer the flight attendant some educational material about blindness (a National Federation of the Blind Kernel book, which contains firsthand accounts by blind people about their daily lives), to have him read and pass along to the crew. He said that he would and was very appreciative of it. This may not make a big impact, but each attitude you can change goes a long way to helping blind people as individuals and as a group. I always have these little books with me when I travel, to offer to airline people, skycaps, cab drivers, or anyone whom I think might need a little enlightening. And, possibly, even to the wheelchair promoting and slightly pushy people, :) Anyway, that's about all I have to say for now.

Until later, this is the Guatemala bound Wayne signing off.

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