Alexa, Skip 2020

We were up 30,000 mid-flight homeward bound when I realized there’s free onboard WiFi. I was still groggy after minutes from waking up. I was hungry, wishing I’d get another serving of PAL’s tasty beef stroganoff. But I was more eager to check what’s online. It’s been hours since I lost connection after entering the departure area back in LAX.

I wasn’t expecting much when I opened my Facebook and Messenger. To be honest, I was actually checking if more people liked my stunts at Tom Bradley Airport and indeed, notification showed there were more who were amused. I’m building a fan base. Indulge me.

Entertaining myself during the 11-hour layover at LAX.

“Bad news”, however, followed by “Taal erupted” greeted me when I checked on my wife. I thought at first it was a bad joke. There was never any hint in the past days that this could happen but my Facebook timeline soon revealed that this small volcano in the scenic Tagaytay just unleashed its pent up fury. The pictures were scary, horrifying, like right out of a disaster movie. It made me feel helpless. I was stuck on a 777, long way from home. I was thinking about Marcus.

Photo taken by wifey from our backyard showing a large plume of ash and smoke from Taal which is several kilometers away.

Our flight, consequently, was diverted. A friend said news back in the Philippines say we’ll be landing in Clark, Pampanga but an hour later the flight map on my seat TV displayed our destination is no longer Manila–we were heading Cebu.

Diverted to Cebu.

I can’t recall ever feeling so uncertain, so confused. When we landed in Mactan I was calm, I followed orders but can’t wait to get over it and just be home. It was my first time in Cebu but it would’ve been a pleasant experience if it was planned and obviously this one isn’t. That time I didn’t even have any idea how long we’d be at the airport.

Perspective from my own sleeping space on the floor.
Getting my ref magnet to show I was in Cebu.

Two free Jollibee chicken meals later and an hour or so later sleeping on the floor with other stranded passengers, we got the final good news. Manila has cleared its airport for inbound flights. We will be home.

It’s interesting how this decade started. A trip to Kansas was a nice way to welcome the year but I didn’t see this Taal factor coming. Nobody did. Alexa, skip 2020!

***

Never imagined we’d be talking to a speaker.

I got a lovely Christmas present in the form of an Amazon Echo 2nd Generation but we had difficulty making it work since December. We soon learned that this is a known issue if activated outside US. I was so desperate and almost accepted we have an expensive paper weight.

I watched several YouTube videos on how to hack it but none of those fixed the issue. I even thought of bringing the one-kilo plus speaker to Kansas to see if I can set it up there but better judgment stopped me. I always prefer travelling light.

When I returned home from the client’s boot camp, despite fear that anytime we’d vacate our house if Taal worsens, we tried our luck once more to communicate with Alexa. Luckily, my Facebook cry for help resulted to useful replies. One said she also has an Echo and that she was able to make it function. I was encouraged so I searched online once more and one site did the trick. Few minutes after I clicked the first hyperlink on Techie Gadgets’ article, we already started interacting with Alexa. So again, “Alexa, skip 2020?”

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Day 3 since Taal has been lowered to level 3 alert.)

Author: crisn

I'm Cris Nacionales from the Philippines.