I don’t recommend this. I left Punta Gorda at 1.35pm (CST – same time zone as Chicago) yesterday, I got to Panama City at 11.30pm (EST – same as New York). I will get to São Paulo at 8.30pm (err, East Edge of Brazil Time? Whatever it is called, it’s two hours ahead of here; three hours behind GMT). I decided against going into the city to get a hotel room for the night. By the time I’d got through immigration and customs, via a shouty argument with a Taca Airlines employee regarding my bloody backpack’s buckles all being open and a bunch of pills and my cell phone missing (the pills were found, the phone not). She asked me to calm down, it wasn’t her fault, they take no liability for lost/stolen electrical items, etc. My point, made with a smattering of swear words, was that all these stupid security regulations mean that, at some point, it was bound to happen that I would remember to take my Swiss Army knife out of my carry-on bag, I’d remember to not pack too much scary dangerous liquid, but I would forget to do something else. This time, sadly, it was taking my nice LG Chocolate phone out of my backpack. Whichever cunt has it now – and I assume you’re a baggage handler – I hope you like the photo of Billy on the screen, you fucking thieving twat. It did all remind me of the episode of “15 Stories High” (a superb Brit comedy if you’ve not seen it) where the main character is told there’s no need for swearing at a check-in desk, and his reply was along the lines of “this is the exact perfect time for the need for swearing.” I concur. Still, I apologised to the lady for my foul language, and acknowledged that it wasn’t her fault, and went about my business. Which, depressingly, was trying to find somewhere in Tacomen airport to bed down for the night.
It wasn’t as horrible as I’d imagined it might be. The airport was very quiet, not many staff or passengers around, and I found an upstairsy bit which had no signs indicating that there were lots of seats or toilets up there, so there were very few people coming or going. Backpack and rucksack on the floor. Rucksack used as pillow (mmm, the comfortable headrest of laptop cables and duty free cigs!), backpack as surrogate girlfriend – something to hug on to.
Brendan had told me he’d slept a night at Charles de Gaulle airport, and that he didn’t recommend it. I met him and his girlfriend who I think was called Melanie at San Salvador airport. I was just about to ask in a bar there if there was anywhere to smoke, when I heard him asking a question including the word “fumar” and being instructed to go somewhere else. I skipped along behind him and asked if he’d asked what I thought he’d asked. He had asked what I thought he’d asked. They were Canadians, doing a year long stint of travelling, but taking a two week break to go home for a friend’s wedding. They’d just come from Belize, too, so we chatted about how we enjoyed it; Brendan admired my t-shirt (bought in Mexico City, it has the Star Wars logo in Spanish on it – Estar Guars); and I shared my freshly bought Marlboro Lights with them: all of us agreeing that the local Belize cigarettes were horrible. I left them a pack from my duty free haul, and Brendan bought me a beer to go with our lovely fags. A fine trade. We also traded URLs, ’cause we’re hipster travellers. Here’s theirs.
First attempt, I managed about 40 minutes of sleep. I listened to “Music For Airports” which was very nice. Far nicer than when I listened to it in Schönefeld airport. Got up, had a brief exchange with a guy sat nearby. It was one of those “huh, this sucks, eh?” exchanges. A bit of freshening up, then back to my floor-tile crib. A bit better this time: just over an hour. A bit of tossing, turning, and clock-watching later and I fell asleep again for about 90 minutes. It would’ve been longer had those pesky kids not been craving Snickers bars from the vending machine. The mechanical whirr of the coily thing, then thud! Three times. It woke me, but their chewy jabbering kept me awake. The parents of the little bastards seemed to not give a shit that someone was trying to sleep a few feet away, and despite their being a whole bank of empty seats forty-odd feet away, decided to sit where they could annoy the gringo. Thanks, fuckers.
A cat wash, brushed teeth, a change of shirt, a few last smokes, a bit of a pain where the toe bit of my flip flops has been rubbing against my toes, and a boarding pass later, and I’m heading through security. This is my second time through this piece-of-shit airport, and the second time my lighter has been taken off me. Berlin, Heathrow, Mexico City, Miami, Belize City, San Salvador: all of them have no problem with a Bic lighter, but this place seems to think it is special. The security guy seemed to speak perfectly fine English when he was asking me to remove my lighter, but when I asked exactly what it was that made my lighter so much more dangerous in Panama City than in Miami, he converted himself to an “I no speak Ingles”-guy. (If you want, you can imagine an extra paragraph of ranting about the absurdities of not supplying an area for smokers in departure lounges here.)
Still, there’s free Wi-Fi, which is more than a lot of airports give you, so I half take back calling this place a piece-of-shit, although there seems to be one cafe and three Lacoste stores which seems the wrong way around to me. Maybe I’m hallucinating. Anyway, I’m grumpy, so I will ask you one question: what exactly did Melinda Gates do to get her name at the top of the letterheads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? I wonder if she actually does stuff, or is she Linda McCartney in Wings? Does blowing a really rich guy get you places? Oh, err, yes, it probably does.
Anyway, time to go and sit next to gate 22a and get on my flight. As i type, there’s a left-handed brother on the seat opposite me. But he’s one of those lefties that writes like he’s got a lobster claw instead of a hand, so I will give him a withering look for letting the side down.
Apologies for any typos, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, ich bin sehr müde and a little bit cranky.