Day One – Departure
Friday, November 19th, 1999

It’s mid afternoon and we are packed and ready to go—at least we think we are, but there is always the chance we’ve forgotten to pack some key item.  Every time we go on a trip I’m reminded that we really –must- create a checklist for use on the next adventure.

Judy’s brother, Rick, is going to take us to SFO tonight.  The flight leaves at 11:55pm, but we need to get there two hours early.  The airport is reporting weather delays of 1 to 6 hours and there is no manned number for our airline, TACA, for us to call.  Finally I call TACA Cargo, they transfer me to the gate, and I find that our flight is scheduled to depart on time.

We get to the airport and unload the bags.  If it were not for the diving equipment we could get by with one bag each—as it is, we have four, plus carry-ons.  TACA check-in is kind of strange; the queue in front of the ticket counter is mostly empty because TACA has set up a ticket checking station at the place you enter the queue.  As a result, we have an empty formal queue and a long line of passengers backing up into the concourse area. Our arrival at the airport was perfectly timed. In just a few minutes we had our bags checked and our seat assignments made.  When we turned around, a flood of people had arrived and the line was now significantly longer.

We made our way to International departures and I was nonplused to find that the flight was now scheduled to depart an hour earlier than printed on my ticket.  There was no one at the counter to ask. That time came and went before they finally corrected the display.

We didn’t know what to expect from TACA, which is a consortium of South and Central American airlines.  What we got was a new Airbus A319 with decent seat pitch and a friendly crew.  If it wasn’t the middle of the night, it would have been perfect, or as perfect as coach class air travel can get these days.  We were fed at 1:00am and then tried to get some sleep.  I did a bit better then Judy since TACA serves free wine with dinner and I was willing to use that to get to sleep.

We caught a connecting flight in San Salvador, El Salvador and spent an hour hanging out in the terminal building.  Can we now add El Salvador to the list of countries we’ve visited?  Perhaps not…