Damn but it took a long, long time to get from here to there. The flight was four hours, but didn't seem unduly long - I had a Perry Mason and a nap. We arrived at the appointed time, thinking: get the bags, find the shuttle, the usual bumpy ride into the jungle, and it all begins!
Because I am devoted this time to granular documentary to give you the full experience, here's a sped-up version of arrival.
Passport control was easy enough - a long line that moved at a good clip, a bored officer stamping our documents, then off to the baggage area. It took a long time to get the bags. A very long time. Several flights were using this carousel, so you had an absolute mass of refugees thronging the belt in increasing stages of irritation. This not being my first time at the rodeo, knowing there is naught you can do but recalibrate your expectations downward, I just waited with patience like a good seasoned traveller, until I snapped. Well, I made inquiries. Five minutes, coming next. It was 15 minutes.
Outside into the throng: all the guys with cards and signs trying to hoover up some taxi business, the various transportation companies looking for their customers, the absolute chaos of it all. Found our company, produced the documents, and was told to wait: the van was on the way. Traffic around the airport is a mess, due to an ongoing road construction project, a reminder of what you face on the other end - but who thinks of that now? I waited with patience, until I had to ask: so . . . it’s coming, no?
Ten minutes later - an hour and twenty minutes since we landed - we were inside the van and heading into the city at a creeping pace. The view was familiar and it wasn’t.
Or, to be more specific, this. (Up for two days, after which I'm taking it down lest someone complain about the music, which is taken from a game soundtrack.) NOTE: Full Screen, if you want it.
And then . . . ahhh.
Wintry Minnesota is already a wispy memory, dissolving in the warm evening breeze.
Different building, this time - we’re at the absolute end of the property it seems. Into the Village for dinner at the Indian restaurant, which was fantastic. Our experience with food has gone from risible to hit-and-miss to excellent; hope that holds.
Then to Aqua, the bar on the canal. When the cabaret was over lots of people showed up and there was a silent rave. Headphones, three color-coded channels. No one was dancing, so we went out and jump-started the party with some steps, and then it seemed to catch fire. Interesting to see all the people in the Aqua bar with headphones, having conversations; don’t know how that was possible.
An interesting form of contagion: everyone would be mostly green, but then some would change channels to red, and everyone else would shift to red to see what was on that channel. The entire party was held in silence.
Then to bed, with the rigors of the next day awaiting.
By "rigors" I mean the hangry wait in the omelette line.
Tomorrow: the absolute predictable nature of everything.