Once the people from Delta arrived (4:35 AM), our line moved relatively quickly. We had some interesting discussions in the security line with the TSA folks. I was bringing my cake decorating materials (pans, decorating bags, icing tips, etc) to make my nephew's cake in Honduras, and I really didn't want to pack the pans in my checked luggage. If they got damaged or lost, there would be no way to even make a cake, so I wanted to keep them with me. The folks at TSA were rather....... intrigued???..... by the contents of my carry-on luggage! However, once everything was thoroughly scanned and inspected, we finally were able to move on to our gate, and board our plane rather quickly. The first leg of our journey (Baltimore to Atlanta, GA) went smoothly and easily, and we tried to rest on the plane a bit. Thankfully, the plane was only about 2/3 full, so there was a little room to spread out and relax during this flight.
We arrived in Atlanta and figured out which terminal we'd need to make our way towards. We were now a bit more awake, as it was about 8:15 AM, and thus were able to enjoy the sights in the airport. The Atlanta airport has a program in place where they display lots of really neat art work throughout the airport. I wish I'd had more time to photograph some of the interesting items we saw. Even the stores in the airport were rather "artsy". Mackenzie and I paused for a moment to photograph an unusual chandelier we saw in one store:
We grabbed some juice and a cinnamon roll from McDonalds in the airport, and went to find our next departure gate. Within only 10 minutes or so, my mom and dad and my neice Kirstin arrived at the gate as well. They had travelled up from Sarasota, Florida, and we were all taking the same flight to Honduras. It was nice that we could arrange our travel that way; we would all land together in Honduras at the same time!
Again, our flight was quiet and uneventful. The plane was only about 1/2 full, there was plenty of space, and the trip was smooth and easy. Mackenzie enjoyed watching the views out the window and used my cellphone camera to take lots of pictures. We were sitting fairly far forward in the plane, and as she looked out, she could get a good look at the front of the plane wing and the engine. One laughable moment came when she looked out, saw the following images, and just said, "Well, DUH!!! Of course!!"
I suppose it really is NOT a good idea for a person to get too close to the engine intake, don't you??
As we descended over San Pedro Sula, Kenzie was especially captured with the beauty of the mountains and was also fascinated by the wildly-snaking river running outside of the city. I'm still trying to find out the name of the river -- maybe somebody can help me??
Upon arriving at San Pedro Sula, we were met by my brother-in-law Allan and my neice, Bethany, AKA "Boo"! Mackenzie was THRILLED to find that Boo had come to the airport to meet her; they had about two years' worth of catching up to do and talked non-stop for hours.
Getting through Honduras Customs was not difficult at all, but extremely slow. We were finally able to claim our luggage and then -- FREEDOM! Well..... ummmmm....... sort of...... I didn't realize that we also were going to wait for Allan's parents and a family friend to arrive on a separate flight -- so there was a bit more time before we headed out of the airport. This worked out well, though, as it gave us a chance to buy some lunch in the airport (who knew they had a Wendy's in Honduras??), brouse the gift shop, and start learning how the Honduran currency works.
After the other folks arrived, we found we had a small snafu. Allan and the groom-to-be, Russell, were each supposed to meet us at the airport with two LandCruisers, as well as one utility trailer, in order to have room for all of us and the mountain of luggage that we gringos like to bring along. However, Russell got tied up in the city with his bride-to-be, future mother-in-law, and (I think) the maid of honor, doing some last minute wedding shopping in the big city!! A new plan was developed: get EVERYBODY into one LandCruiser, pile the luggage in the trailer, drive into the city to meet Russell, and then put the other set of grandparents into his vehicle. Everybody else (and the luggage) would start the drive towards Gracias, and the second carload would come up later when the shopping was done. I am SO glad we didn't end up in Russell's vehicle, because apparently the shopping took much longer than anticipated. I don't think I would've lasted much longer that night if we hadn't gotten to the hotel!!
I forgot to mention that once we put nearly everybody into the first LandCruiser, we realized we just could NOT accomodate everyone -- so Kirstin rode in the utility trailer until we caught up with Russell. She enjoyed it, but it nearly gave my poor parents heart failure!!
Pictures from the airport and drive:
View of mountains from the airport door
Kirstin riding in the utility trailer!!
The airport in San Pedro Sula -- not very big, is it??
After the other grandparents were safely situated in Russell's vehicle, the rest of us began the long drive to Gracias. My best guess is that it's only about 130 miles; however, because of the bad roads, potholes, boulders in the road, animals in the road, dodging in and out of traffic around slow-moving buses and trucks, it took about 4 hours to get there. These pictures were taking out of a moving, BOUNCING vehicle, so they don't even begin to accurately show the beauty of the land...
Mackenzie watched the scenery for a little while......
..... but after a bit, she and Boo saw almost none of it -- they were still too busy chattering! Eventually, the very long day started to catch up with both of them.....
I actually am not sure what time we finally arrived at our hotel, the Posada de Don Juan in Gracias, Honduras. I don't think I actually noticed much about the hotel the first night -- I was tired, hungry, and wanted to go to bed! Everyone looks pretty exhausted in these photos taken in the hotel restaurant:
After a good meal, we wrapped up our day, which had started at 3 AM and now was ending around 10 PM Honduran time (actually about midnight East Coast time). We quickly fell asleep, worn out but excited to see what new adventures would be ahead of us the next day!
Day #2 coming soon.......