Night at the “International” Airport

At the Airport

Since our flight to Costa Rica departed at dawn, we opted to spend the night in the Guatemala City airport. Apparently, although it is an international airport, people simply do not stay overnight. We arrived close to 8 p.m.-all the airline counters were dark and deserted. In the food court restaurants above, the “late night” shifts were wiping counters and storing food. Even Pollo Campero would not let us order any pollo. Fortunately, trusty old McDonalds was still serving the last of its fast fried goodness, which served as our last meal in Guatemala.

We found a row of leather seats and settled in for a long night. There was not a passenger in sight and the only people we saw were the occasional guard, janitor, or flight attendant heading home after a full day’s work. I fell into an uncomfortable and restless sleep, each set of footsteps convincing me that we were seconds away from being kicked out to spend the night outside on the streets. When I had finally fallen into a sound sleep, I awoke to an airport security officer asking for our passports. He asked us a series of usual questions (Where were we going? For how long? Where did we come from? What time was our flight?), and then asked us to follow him. Anxious and groggy, we followed him to the entrance of the airport where he conferred at length with the woman guard at the door, trying to make sense of what to do with these stupid foreigners who apparently were camping out after hours at the airport. Fortunately for us, they allowed us to stay, albeit in significantly less comfortable plastic chairs attached together by metal armrests, making lying down impossible. Jeff courageously asked (in Spanish, no less) if we could possibly move back to our leather seating area, to which the guard replied, “Solamente aqui” (“Only here”). So there we remained for the rest of the night, staring at the shiny floors, empty kiosks, the vast empty silent space of the concourse, and the darkened food court above. When the doors to the airport opened at 4 a.m., employees appeared behind their now illuminated stations and a slow but steady stream of passengers began filing in. We grabbed our bags, headed to the ticket counter, checked in, and then proceeded to our gate as we watched the duty free shops and cafes open their gates to serve the early bird travelers and to wait for another two hours to board our plane.

Posted: April 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Guatemala | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Night at the “International” Airport”

  1. 1 Penny said at 10:50 pm on April 27th, 2009:

    I read and remembered our night at the Santiago, Chile airport. Someone could make a good horror movie set in these places…dark, deserted and creepy. Happy travels!

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