We headed into Panama City the night before our trip to make things a little easier on the long day of travel. With two large suitcases accompanied by two carry-on bags, plus personal items, we quickly stood out as gringo's that needed help. Promptly, a Panamanian man brought us a cart for our luggage which he pushed to the ticket counter and stood by while we checked in for the flight. After he passed our luggage through to be checked in Clyde handed him $1.00, which seemed adequate for his five minutes of work. The man rejected the dollar and said his services would cost $4.00 which Clyde paid since he had no choice. The ticket agent chuckled and said in English that it should have cost no more than $2.00, and even she said that we'd just been "gringoed."
With airport security heightened we went through the first security check point as usual and then thought it was safe to buy a bottle of water, after stopping for breakfast. But lo and behold there was a second security search right before we boarded the plane. A woman nicely told us that we could step out of the line and drink our bottles of water, or throw them away. Despite the fact that we'd just paid $2.00 per bottle, we chugged down as much as possible before throwing them away and getting back in line. Did she really think I'd be drinking from the bottle if it contained explosives, poison or some other deadly substance? Another feeling up from a TSA officer of the same sex and we were allowed to board the packed plane. Little did she know that this travel rebel smuggled small bottles of hand sanitizer and lotion in my purse that I neglected to pull out with my liquids bag.
The first leg of our trip took us to Houston, TX where we would have to collect our luggage that had been checked in, and go through the process to re-check it for the next flight. Apparently this is a standard procedure on International flights, although I don't remember having to do this last year. Clyde was complaining all day about having a three and a half hour layover in Houston before boarding the plane to Kansas City. But as it turned out, the flight was delayed 90-minutes due to bad weather somewhere which made the wait even longer. Since Clyde's sister Donna was picking us up at the airport which was nearly a two hour drive from her house, we needed to contact her as soon as possible to alert her of the delay. Clyde tried to find free WIFI in the airport, or even some he could pay for, but there didn't seem to be any such thing. He walked around for a long time looking for a pay phone but those seem to be a thing of the past. Our cheap, pre-paid cell phones from Panama didn't work in the US and it was frustrating to have no way to contact her. Finally Clyde asked a man sitting nearby if he would let us use his cell phone, briefly explaining our situation. The man agreed and we were able to catch Donna and Dean before they left their house for the airport. Our hour an a half delay turned into two hours before they let all passengers board, making us even later on the other end.
But eventually we made our way to Kansas City and spent the next few days reuniting with family and reminiscing about old times. They showed us around the area including the Tall Grass Prairie, one of the last displays of tall grass in the nation that sits near the Flint Hills Region of Kansas. As it's name suggests, the tall grasses range from five to ten feet in height and some have roots that burrow just as deep. Parts of the prairie's are among the top ten eco-regions and home to an array of reptiles, birds, butterflies and various tree species. Herds of bison roam freely on the prairie's and provided an impressive back drop for our eyes to behold.
|Clyde's Family in Kansas|
Sister Donna, Niece Denise and Brother in Law Dean
|Dean and Donna with Clyde and Terry in Kansas|
And since Donna works for Weight Watchers, she was always conscious of points in the foods she was serving us. I have to admit that despite the many diets I'd been on throughout my life, that was never one of them because it required asking for help. But looking back maybe it would have been easier than the drastic road I ended up taking nine years ago when I had gastric bypass surgery and lost 150 pounds. Funny how our lives can change at any moment just from the little decisions we make, or fail to make along the way.
And just maybe from now on whenever we hear the words to that song we'll remember what a great time we had in Kansas City, just another detour.....along the gringo trail.