Home for Christmas…Sort of

Plane ticket purchased three months in advance? Check. Bags packed and organized two weeks ahead of time? Check. Christmas gifts safely stored in my suitcase since September? Check. Negative COVID-19 test result for my flight? Oh…

And Everything went downhill from there. 

International flights are already hard enough, even for those of us who are used to splitting “home” between two countries. Add a global pandemic and two hurricanes into the mix, and you end up with the perfect recipe for disaster. For the first time in a couple of years, I was able to afford a flight back home to Honduras for the Christmas break, and while the excitement to breathe my country’s air once again does not easily dampen, I started to lose hope for celebrating Christmas with my parents.

As a self-proclaimed traveling expert, I always make sure to schedule my flights and take care of the nitty-gritty details to avoid any inconveniences. However, there is only so much I can prepare for, and that does not include fixing a public health emergency or controlling the weather.

For experienced travelers, it is not uncommon to deal with canceled or delayed flights. Now, imagine having your flight back home canceled three times in the span of a week, and for different reasons – frustrating is not an adequate enough word to convey what I felt in that moment.

In the week of Nov. 2, 2020, two tropical storms hit Honduras and left devastating effects behind them. When the media reported that the San Pedro Sula National Airport flooded, I immediately changed my flight to avoid any roadblocks. But the worst was yet to come.

To enter Honduras, one must provide a negative COVID-19 test result, one which I took and did not receive on time. After having to move my flight twice, I wondered what else could possibly go wrong. At this point, my perfectionistic self was struggling to come up with plan B’s, and the more I tried to reclaim control of the situation, the more unforeseen events surprised me.

When I finally arrived at my connecting flight in Houston – though a few days later than intended – I began to feel more at ease. As I stored my pink, sturdy hand luggage in the compartment above my seat, I faintly heard the flight attendant mention that weather conditions were not optimal for traveling. A few hours into the flight that would ultimately take me back home, the pilot turned the plane around and returned us to Houston. Just like that.

The icing on the cake, however, was having to constantly lie to my parents about my whereabouts, since I planned to surprise them by showing up unannounced. I quickly realized that there was no more inconvenient time for my flight to get delayed three times in a row and get stranded in an unknown city by myself. My flight back home was, for lack of a better word, not ideal. For someone who plans every second of her life on in a jaded planner, I was humbled by this experience, nonetheless. I learned that Waffle House is a great place to cry at when your COVID test doesn’t arrive on time. I learned that it’s okay to ask strangers at the airport to borrow their phones when you are in the middle of a panic attack. Most importantly, I learned the worth of being home for Christmas, even when it doesn’t go as planned.

Photo by Katelyn Kingcade/The Threefold Advocate