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03 March 2010

The Beginning of the Trip

Midnight. LAX. Terminal 6.

Why is everyone speaking Chinese?

My flight should be leaving in an hour - and should start boarding at any moment.

I have an inkling that I'm at the wrong gate - everyone around me is Asian and I can't see any signs declaring that it's my flight at the gate. There aren't even that many people around here; the flights from the other gates (red-eyes to Boston and Atlanta) have departed.

My mom and uncle drove me to the airport. They came to my apartment early - I was still getting ready and was trying to finish my movie. But they were okay with waiting. I also took a short power nap to keep myself calm and save my energy.

I always get a fluttering inside me before I embark on a trip, especially if it's by airplane. It may be due to all the security rules and procedures. It's such a hassle. Hearing the letters "LAX" doesn't exactly instill a comforting feeling (or, to put it more succinctly, LAX isn't lax).

It's now 12:10 and no announcements or anything! My boarding pass says that we should've started boarding 20 minutes ago. Someone was paged en Español to come up, so I should be in the right place. I think...

Why is everyone speaking Chinese?

I just started reading The Sun Also Rises, by Hemingway. It's my first Hemingway. 3 chapters down so far (they're short chapters). I'm starting to warm to the idea of reading for pleasure.

Okay! They've started boarding; but odd, they haven't actually announced it or said the flight number. Well, the rest of the terminal is empty, so I'll just assume it's my flight. And I see some Latinos - good. There are a couple retirees sitting next to me here in the waiting area. And I just remembered that there's a big Japanese population in Brazil - maybe there's a lot more Asians in Latin America than I could have possibly anticipated? We'll see. Time to get on the plane.


12:20 AM. LAX.

I just got paged by name to come up to the gate! Holy shit, I thought, I hope I didn't miss my actual flight or end up in trouble or anything.

Turns out, the seat I was assigned to was an aisle seat all the way in the back, and the attendant wanted to give me a better (window) seat at the very front of the plane! All riiiiight. Very nice. I love window seats. Too bad it's not an upgrade to first class...


7:50 AM Panama time / 5:50 AM Pacific time

I was awoken by the sound of the flight attendants' cart as they maneuvered to the front of the plane to serve breakfast. Groggy from 2 and a half hours of shut-eye in the window seat, I didn't have an appetite as I awoke. The male flight attendant pulled up and offered me either an omelette or [something something] french toast. I chose omelette because it's all I could understand. I wasn't expecting much from the food, but the eggs and fruit were noticeably stale. I was thirsty, so I had to pace myself so I wouldn't completely gulp down the surprisingly sweet and nectar-like orange juice.

The window-covers were still down, but I could tell that there's sunshine bathing everything outside already. Rolling up the window shade for a quick peek revealed that we were flying over clouds - don't know if it's ocean or land below.

An hour and a half to our scheduled landing. I don't really know what to expect from Panama; it shouldn't be too overwhelming... I hope. I mean, I've only got 8 hours there - I'll probably spend most of my time riding in taxis.

Lots of legroom up front! The flight attendant bugged me in broken English to put my bag in the overhead compartment.

Okay, I'm gonna brave the line for the bathroom.


9:15 AM Panama time / 6:15 AM Pacific time

Dude - How I Met Your Mother is on the in-flight TVs. They also showed an episode of The Big Bang Theory! I'd totally plug in headphones to watch, but I can't find the headphones they passed out - must've slipped between the seat cushions or something.

I can already tell that the Spanish they speak in Panama is different from what I'm used to hearing in LA.

Today's plan for Panama City (if there is one): Get a bus from the airport to the city center or Panama Viejo and then catch a taxi to the Miraflores locks of the canal. It should be cheaper this way, because the cab drivers charge extra to/from the airport. Hopefully it isn't too expensive.

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