The day was almost perfect.
The 16-hour flight was taxing, though since I enjoyed the airplane food, in-flight movies (Because I Said So! *swoon* at Gregory Macht), and the entire Ateneo college basketball team (grabe, ba't parang di ganun kagu-gwapo mga players in my time?), it was bearable. I have to admit though, that during the course of the flight, I was worried about my baggage because 1) I wasn't given any baggage claim ticket -- I think Jake has mine stapled with his own ticket -- and 2) I was pondering whether or not to declare Judy's $25 toothpaste in Customs once I arrived. That is of course 3) I'll reach Customs after I passed Immigration.
We had a stop over in Vancouver, and it was... green. Well, at least the [ice-capped] mountains and trees that are in sight from the tarmac. We were held in this waiting room as passengers in transit. I was a glassy room that separates us from Canadian soil. It has been said that you try crossing that door with just one foot and you could already be detained. I bought a $2 bottle of water. It tasted the same.
In contrast, Las Vegas is very brown. Or was that Arizona? During the last 15 minutes of the flight all I could see was rock formations and rocky mountains (which made me wonder if it was the Rocky Mountains). We arrived around 6pm and lucky for me, all my fears about my luggage and Customs and Immigration were unfounded.
Of course, once we stepped off that airport, things got interesting.
First, a well-suited black/Asian (Indian) guy approached us offering his transport service (he has a big black car... now that I thought about it, it was also tinted). Jake and I were about to hop in (for $42) when I guess the a parking official stopped the guy and ticketed him or something. I guess he's like an illegal transporter or whatever. He sped of like mad. Kinda a shaky experience -- I don't want to end up CSI after all. Hehe. The parking guy directed us to the correct taxi bay and e ended up just paying $15 for the "legit" ride (including tip).
The Excalibur Hotel is starting to annoy me. Judy was right -- it was just a so-so hotel. The room is not fabulous at all (no bathtub! paid Internet access! no complementary breakfast!) for an average of $300+ a night. I guess its the upcoming holiday and the conference itself that drove a lot of people here, prompting the hotels to jack their prices up. Whatever. Plus, the thing that bummed me most is that I had to shell my entire pocket money (including the company-sponsored per diem) to make a deposit worth my entire stay here. That's 1,000 fucking dollars. The front desk said that only the first night was paid by the company (so far), so I have to call home and check. Was it because I paid in cash cos both my credit cards were denied (helloooo, if they are charging $1,000, that's way beyond my combined credit limit). Jake's card went through the first time, and when he tried to cover for my deposit, it was denied too. I wonder how much was his card charged... same as my cash deposit?
So that left me broke, with only $188 on my name (thanks to Jake, who generously lent me $200 for the deposit, otherwise, I would be kicking myself in the head now for buying that $2 water), PHP1,000, and a recently upgraded credit limit (courtesy of mother, whom I called to relate the brouhaha). For a while I was ready to take the next plane back to Manila.
At least the day didn't end that bad: Jake's great-uncle came to pick us up to have dinner at their house a couple of miles (naks, American sounding! LOL! As if I know how many kilometers are there in a mile... 3?) off The Strip. I ate barbecue and pansit. And watched a Heroes rerun. :) Milo Ventimiglia has a way of calming my nerves. LOL.
I wonder what'll happen the next couple of days?