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03 March 2010

The Girl Who Works at the Airport

12:25 PM. Albrook Mall, Panamá.

It's too hot here to lose your cool!

I made it to Panamá! The flight arrived a little early, which gave me time to go through immigration (almost as tedious as entering the US - luckily, no line!), filling out customs forms. Yes, it's warm and humid - not totally oppressive but it's close - somewhere between summer in Virginia and in the Philippines.

At the airport I talked to the tourist information lady, who directed me to take the Corredor bus to Albrook station, where I can get a taxi to the canal.

Armed with that information, I walked outside the airport confidently. There I found - a line of taxis, a parking lot, and no bus stops in sight. I wandered through the parking lot (the information lady told me the bus stops were beyond the parking lot), only to find that the lot was gated in and there was no exit there - and still, no bus stops in sight. I wandered back to the terminal, where I asked a couple airport employees for the bus stop. They then tried to haggle me onto a taxi - "11 dollars", "special deal" - but I would have none of it, especially now that I knew that a bus ride costs only 25 cents. (The currency of Panamá is officially the Balboa, but everywhere uses US dollars; the only time I saw balboas were as the quarters i got as change for bus fare.) The airport employees directed me to walk all the way down the roadway out of the airport, telling me the bus stops were outside the airport. So I wandered.

It was then, as I was walking along the median of what looked almost like a highway, that I met Melanie.

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.