Although I was, on the whole, very satisfied with this trip, it wasn’t without its slight hiccups, starting with arriving at the airport around 9:30 at night and having NO driver waiting to pick us up. Also, culture shock: stepping out of the airport and being enveloped by second-hand smoke. It was unavoidable, with still smoldering cigarettes in ash trays every several feet. I’ve taken for granted CA’s smoking laws. And me being pregnant. But aside from that, my colleague got on her phone and found our driver who arrived about 20 minutes later while the airport kept thinning out more and more, leaving us the last poor schleps waiting to be picked up. At least the temperature was fine.
When our driver arrived and opened the back of the van, I rolled my suitcase up and hefted it into the trunk, not seeing him make an immediate move to do so. Then my co-author rolled hers up to his feet and stepped back to let him take care of it. I was like, “Oh, I guess that’s what experienced travelers do–let the driver do the heavy lifting. I’m a total newbie.” I was hoping there’d be a man with a cap and uniform of some sort waiting in the terminal holding a sign with my last name on it–How cool would that be?! I would’ve totally gotten a picture with him, but no. Maybe next time. 🙂
We were driven to our guest house, which had several rooms, each posted with a reserved sign as to what esteemed guests would be staying there and when. I, of course, went around and read them all. One of the names was the host of my very first radio show when my first book came out in 2013. I would’ve liked to have met her, but she was arriving the day after we were leaving. Also, I’m not so casual about all this as to think it wasn’t amazing to see my name on a reserved room sign.
One of my greatest concerns about this trip was that I would get zero sleep. My D.C. experience taught me that I don’t sleep well when I travel, especially when something big is coming the next day. Before my talk at that conference, I got three hours of sleep, so that’s what I was praying for here. I managed to get more like four! I was so pleased. The potential lack of sleep would also mean major eye bags–no bueno for television! But since I woke at 4:40 and didn’t have to be on set until 9, the bags had plenty of time to stow themselves. What a relief!
Another worry was getting coffee without being scolded in the cafeteria for drinking it while pregnant. My husband gave me a ready-made answer for that. “Just say, ‘It’s either this or I fall asleep on set. Which do you think would be better?'” Love that man, but as it turned out, there was coffee in the guest house. I could drink my watered-down contraband caffeine in private with no scoffers. I say watered-down because I don’t drink coffee often and make it far less, so I was truly winging it. Regardless, it got the job done. Either that small boost, or the adrenaline, got me through it all without crashing.
The cafeteria was a darling little room run by a short, older African-American woman with crayon red hair, several missing front teeth, and a no-nonsense attitude. I was immediately in love. Also, she, of all people, was the most on top of things when it came to guest services at this place. SHE was the one who knew our schedule backwards and forwards and was able to tell us precisely when and where we’d be picked up to be driven back to the airport. This information wasn’t otherwise provided to us, until we thought to ask her! Gotta love the lunch lady!
Stay tuned for Part 2!