Sunday, June 01, 2008

Port of Spain May 2008: Thank You

As you know, this blog is about the journey, not about the destination. However, when necessary, I make an exception. Well, this is such a time.

While in Trinidad and Tobago, we were shown a good time by Alexis, his brother Daryl, Vivik and his family, Ricardo, Terrence, Jason and the ATC guys on duty. It was phenomenal to say the least. I’d been to Trinidad several times and Tobago once and the hospitality is always superb.

So I thank everyone for making the birthday weekend pleasurable and memorable.

Port of Spain May 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down to an almost non-bounce landing at 12:44p on the Lee Road runway. We taxied in to the nearby E2 by 12:48p, then after a few minutes of waiting, I disembarked and headed for Immigration. The agent who met the flight announced the baggage claim belt as well as advising that it was necessary to place all the liquids acquired at Duty Free in the checked luggage if Houston was not your final destination.

The flight attendant had welcomed us to Houston advising that we could use our cell phones, but to ensure that they along with two-way pagers were off when we got to Immigration. Do people still carry two-pagers? I wondered. She also advised that Duty Free liquids must be re-packed in your checked luggage if you had onward air journey from Houston.

The Immigration line was not too bad and I was out of there in no time. I made my way down to Baggage Claim, where I was asked if my backpack was all the luggage I had. I answered in the affirmative and moved forward. I am glad that the agents do ask this as if you are unsuspecting and was not listening onboard your flights, you could leave your baggage on the carousel if Houston is not your final destination.

I had called on the plane so I knew that the next bus I could catch to downtown was leaving its first stop at 1:25p, so I had ample time.

I made my way over to Terminal C using the slow underground train. When I got there, I saw a bus at the stop, but I think it was the one that had just arrived from Downtown Houston. It left before I could go outside anyways, so I plugged in for a bit and checked e-mail before heading out to board the bus. As it turns out, it was the inbound as I saw many airport employees entering the air conditioned Baggage Claim/Passenger Arrivals area.

In a few minutes I made my way outside, the bus came, I boarded it and headed for downtown Houston.

Port of Spain May 2008: Arriving at Piarco on my way to Houston Intercontinental

Piarco International, Trincity Trinidad and Tobago (POS)

As we arrived at the terminal, we noticed that there were three Caribbean Airlines (BW) Boeing 737-800 with winglets aircraft sitting at the gates. The vibrant colors and the white fuselage made for a beautiful sight.

As we pulled into the designated drop off area which was under construction, our driver was yelling at a lady who was oddly parked, which made it difficult for us to do the same. It was a slightly heated interaction with name calling, but it soon died down after the egos were cooled. It was really our driver and the passenger being dropped, a guy, who were arguing.

In offering the driver the fare for the trip, he said that they don’t have cash on them so he did not have any change for the 50 USD bill I had, so off I went to find some for him. A few minutes later, I had located an ATM that gave me cash in USD and was heading back to him and my travel companion. There was also an ATM that gave out $TT, the local currency.

Once that was over with, I re-entered the terminal, commenting to Lee that the airport was a zoo this morning. He made his way to Delta’s (DL) counter and I to Continental Airlines's (CO).

I muddled my way to the end of the line mixed with passengers going to Newark, NJ (EWR) and also to Houston, TX (IAH). It was all a bit chaotic as there is not much space for the lines to be formed as the check-in area is really tight. Bizarre, as this is a relatively new airport terminal; it is just too narrow is the issue.

An agent came by and split the lines into two based on your destination, so that helped a bit for those customers who were on the line. But of course at airports customers like to join lines wen they arrive at an airport, so eventually there were customers who were going to Newark who were on our line. Lee actualyl paseed by and said he was all done; I told him I would meet him later

Later the security agent came by and put people in the right lines.

I finally made it to the counter and got checked in. and had to remind the agent that I had to pay the 100 TTD departure tax. It was now 6:47a, so at the request of the agent, I immediately made my way to the departure gate.

I showed my passport and boarding pass end entered the Duty Free area. I searched for and found Lee shopping, then we walked upstairs where I paid my departure tax with 15 CAD I had. the equivalent was 17 USD, go figure.

Next stop was the security checkpoint. We stopped to check out the final Duty Free area, as we did the line continued to build. At security they actually have two lines; one for females and the other for males. This crazy idea facilitates the women security personnel frisking the women only if there is an issue.

As we waited online, these two guys came up and wanted to join the female line. the airport personnel who was in charge of keeping the lines separated, ushered them to the back of the long line.

As I as about to clear the line, I saw them again saying that their flight ad called for final call. I thought they were lying as I had not heard anything. They cleared just behind me.

I went to the agent and asked if he needed to see our boarding passes, he said no and that he would clear the list soon.

Later, I saw them in the Duty Free shop hanging around as they were on my flight, which had not called final call at all. As a matter of fact, it had not even started boarding. I hate people who lie!

Soon, an announcement was made that boarding passes were available for standbys. I went and got mine and I lucked out with a window on the left side.

Boarding started soon, so I bade goodbye to Lee and headed onboard.

Port of Spain May 2008: Leaving downtown Port of Spain

Downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

It was 4:57a, when the phone rang; it was the front desk with our wake up call. After replacing the phone in its cradle, I looked at my mobile and realized that it was not yet 5:00a. I then turned over and placed the sheet over my head and went back to sleep. Of course three minutes later, the alarm on my phone went off; aargh!

I got up and went to the shower and then woke up my traveling companion in about 10 minutes.

By 5:44a, were downstairs, settling our bill and boarding the 35 USD car service to the airport. It was a slightly bleakly morning, but that changed as the sun came up over the mountain ranges. It was brilliant.