An Unexpected Adventure!
Fingers crossed! 7 novice travels board their flight in Guatemala. The connection is tight, but we think positively that they will be just fine! They land early, perfect! Not so perfect. Facebook and Whatsapp messages began to pour in. “We are still in immigration,” writes Marisol. “Call us, it’s urgent,” reads the message from Chema. As our hopes for a smooth journey from Guatemala to the U.S. faded, problem solving quickly took its place.
Chema, now through immigration, tells me over FB video chat, “Donna, I think we are going to miss our flight. We are all here waiting, but Marisol still hasn’t arrived.” Marisol, the only English-speaking member of our Unlocking Silent Histories and Maya Traditions group traveling to the States was detained in customs. Chema continues, “And we haven’t recovered our suitcases!” I tell Chema that everything will be ok, and “hey, this is just part of the adventure!” Chema isn’t so sure, but we laugh and continue to talk. I “walk” him through the airport, searching for someone to speak with. Chema’s phone scanning the airport, we find a security guard. I speak to her, and she tells us that there is nothing to do but wait. Chema, Carlos, Carmen, and our Maya Traditions partners do just that. One and a half hours later, Marisol emerges… By this time, the flight is definitely gone. Again, using FB video chat, I guide them to the ticket counter so that they can rebook their flights.
Knowing that they are tired, stranded and nervous worries me. All I can think about is that they have no U.S. money and they need to eat and sleep. Team USH kicks into gear. Temis, a USH volunteer traveling with us, navigates two computers and a phone to scan websites and talk to customer service centers. He finally secures a hotel, a shuttle to get them there, and orders breakfast for the next morning. At the same time, I worked through re-booking their flights. I also contacted a super amazing friend in Houston, who graciously fed them and got them off to the airport the next morning. They board safely and we wait. Together, Temis, Korah (SINMAI Cultural Arts Program Specialist), and I leave to greet the group at La Guardia. Harried but happy to be in NYC, our USH and MTF guests arrive safely!