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By: Clarissa Cisneros, Emergency department coordinator, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center
As promised, the blog chronicling our adventure-filled entry into Guatemala is about to unfold on the screen before you. Sit back, relax, and find that little sweet spot in your chair because this story is drama personified. After Nikki and Franco secured our connection in Dallas and stressed the importance of the items we had in tow, our team boarded American Airlines flight 2442 to Dallas an hour later than anticipated.
Originally set to land at 3:15 p.m. Dallas time, our plane kissed the gate at Dallas International at 4:45 p.m. Our connecting flight was set to leave for Guatemala promptly at 5 p.m. We had fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes to transport 27 people, their luggage, and more than 20 cases of surgical supplies across the airport to our next flight. Have I mentioned we were all seated at the end of the plane? Now we’re 27 people patiently waiting for the front half of the plane to scoot out of their seats, gather their belongings, and leave the plane in order to make a mad dash to the next gate. Cathy Simms, one of our anesthesiologists meeting us in Dallas, also secured our transition as she waited for us at the airport. As we found our seats, the pilot of American Airlines flight 1013 held the plane until each and every supply trunk made it on board. Equal parts team leadership, team work and some divine intervention helped us through this first obstacle.
It’s now well into the evening and we arrive in Guatemala. Rachel, in-country staff for Faith in Practice, greeted us as we claimed our belongings. Individually, we made it through customs swiftly and with ease. Tired and ready for the next leg of the journey we head out of the airport and see our bus: a re-purposed school bus painted black and emblazoned with red flames across its sides. Don’t let the flames fool you. This bus got us from Guatemala City to Antigua in a safe and steady, albeit bumpy, ride. Driving up a steep hill could easily put Splash Mountain to shame.
I bet now you’re thinking, great, you made it to Antigua without any other obstacles? Right?
Not quite. We made it onto the bus, snacked on the sandwiches provided by FIP and realized we were short one translator, one mission coordinator and our supply trunks. Customs had our teammates and our supplies. After some clarifications and the completion of additional forms, Nikki and Sylvia eventually made it back to us. Our medications, however, stayed behind for the night.
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