It looks like the kernel has a problem with your laptop's card reader. Maybe the BIOS allows you to disable it ?
You are absolutely right! I checked the boot time by eliminating all my external drives one by one. I have an external hard drive, a CF drive, an SD drive and a flash drive typically connected. When I disengaged the CF drive, the delay in booting was gone and it booted fast. This CF drive is not seen by the system, whether I boot with it or not. This is remarkable as some other distros (Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS) that I have, do see the CF drive. PCLinuxOS does not see the SD drive, on the other hand.
I consider this problem solved, as I really do not need the CF drive. Thanks.