Jan. 20, 2019 – Atlanta, WI – Hello from our destination, El Salvador, said none of us.
Quite the travel adventure already but we haven’t had to call the cops on each other yet so we’re good on that account.
For the next nine days WashingtonCountyInsider.com will post details on the missionary trip of David and Nancy Slinde of West Bend.
This is the couple’s 30 journey to the small Central American country. Over the years, the Slindes have helped improve education, plumbing, and business development.
Between the two, Nancy is the translator, David is able to execute a plan and they both have great faith.
“It was 2007 when we returned from El Salvador and I just thought there was more we could do,” said David. “That’s when the Lord told me to move to El Salvador. Nancy was on board; the kids thought we were crazy.”
As they became immersed in the culture, the Slindes won the trust of the community. They are now returning with another bag full of donated clothes, crayons and heaps of goodwill.
So far we’ve been the typical travelers you see on TV news stranded at the airport in the midst of a Wisconsin winter storm. (Total honesty, when watching the news in my sweet warm chair at home I tend to laugh at the ridiculous people who think they’re going to get somewhere….)
Our first flight was slightly delayed. Hundreds of passengers made it on time, however, the pilot’s limo ended up in a snow bank. He called an Uber to get him to the Milwaukee airport.
Dawdling around with the plane running prompted a random warning light to pop on, forcing all passengers to deboard and reschedule.
I’ve been through this drill before and was one of the first to exit and get to the Delta Help Desk.
Wouldn’t you know it? The clerk seemed familiar and I’m still betting she was the one who “helped” me on my bike tour to New Zealand. That’s the one where I stood in line for an hour as she was certain I needed a visa for vacation. (I didn’t). That was the same bike tour where my luggage showed up 26 days later—the day before I returned home from New Zealand. (I’m tucking that little nugget in my pocket and will warn my travel mates after a beverage.)
The helpful Delta clerk made alternative arrangements. Rather than Milwaukee to Atlanta to El Salvador, we would travel Milwaukee to Atlanta to Mexico City, carrying on the next day to El Salvador. While it sounded a bit roundabout, we were at least on the move and southbound.
With pilot in place and everyone on board, Delta tested our patience one more time as it forgot to de-ice the plane. Safety first…. another hour and we were in the air.
Thank you, Delta
The Slindes bring their own level of travel savvy to the table. A reroute to Mexico City meant going through customs, twice; once when we arrived and then the next day when we would head to El Salvador. “Who is going to pay for that,” asked David.
Vouchers was a hot-button term—said by every traveler that day.
The Help Desk was also a popular spot.
Sparing you the drudgery and detail, a competent Delta clerk, Brandon, saved us from Mexico City. “You’re going to stay in Atlanta tonight and then go direct to El Salvador on Sunday morning,” said Brandon.
He then spoiled us with travel vouchers for a sweet hotel, SpringHill Suites, in downtown Atlanta, and $15 meal vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanks, Delta!
A bet is on the table
After a late lunch and drinks on Delta we set out to make a game plan for Sunday. We got up at 6:30 a.m., took the SkyTram to the airport, made it through security and awaited our flight to El Salvador that would take off at 9:47 a.m.
Everything is relatively easy because we’d already checked our luggage in Milwaukee.
Between the three of us, we placed a classic Midwest bet; a Friday fish fry to the winner – “I’m betting our luggage will be there in El Salvador,” said Nancy. “I trust Brandon…. I don’t know so much about the baggage handlers though.”
David, too, is betting on luggage waiting of us in El Salvador. (They’re such copycats.)
As for me, I’m betting we have a “Survivor” experience ahead of us and the missionaries will be borrowing clothes from the community as our luggage (with cheese and summer sausage gifts on board, according to David) sits in a warm storage unit in Mexico City. We will get our luggage on Day 9 of our 10-day tour. Call me optimistic.
Updates & Tidbits
-Atlanta, Georgia, is home to Super Bowl LIII, which takes place on February 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There is A LOT of Super Bowl advertising at the airport as Atlanta preps for the big game.
-The departure/arrival screen at the hotel has an interesting graphic for the weather; 61 degrees was marked with an ice cube. Our team from Wisconsin laughed.
-There was a three-year-old nicknamed “Bear” seated in front of me on the plane in Milwaukee. (The second plane.) He chided the pilot. “Let’s go pilot. Let’s go.” Adults in the vicinity egged him on.
-The weather in Atlanta was rainy and 61 degrees. There were colorful yellow and purple flowers in bloom.
– While I could never work in an airport, I do love “people watching.” Especially impressive are the weaves of the African American men and women.
– There seems to be an organized campaign at the airport to heighten the awareness of sex trafficking. Stay tuned as Monday, January 20, there will be a documentary on sex trafficking airing on WashingtonCountyInsider.com
-As we prep to board the plane to San Salvador there is a unique parade of elderly Hispanic women in wheelchairs. David says it’s a cultural thing. “They are well aware the wheelchairs get to board first.” The line numbers about a dozen right now and we have 30 more minutes til boarding.
-Temps in El Salvador are expected to be in the mid-90s with high humidity.