We have arrived in Quitos, Ecuador, after a long but not very eventful journey. We flew Air Crappyda, so this is somewhat surprising. Still, they didn’t disappoint us completely. Once we got to Toronto, we switched planes to fly to Bogota, Columbia. Boarding went as planned and then we sat......and sat.....and sat......It got hotter and hotter and hotter........Eventually, the captain's voice came on, informing us of a very small technical problem. I hate it when they lie like that. Very small technical problems do not require very large sledgehammers down the hold - you could hear all the hammering going on. 30 minutes later, the captain admitted to an overheating problem in the hold that was requiring maintenance to pull up panels to try and find the problem It was at this point that I muttered “Well, at least they could turn the entertainment system on” Two minutes later, a flight attendant announced that they were turning on the entertainment system. Excellent, except our screens did not work. No problem, we could move seats, but no, we couldn’t sit together and no, I couldn’t have a window seats. Crap. More muttering “She could at least ask if anyone will move to allow us to sit together” Lo and behold, she does and we are moved to seats, together, by the window.
We finally take off, 1.5 hours late, which is going to make it very tight for our next connection to Quito, even with tail winds to speed us on our way. As we close in on Quito and as the clock ticks down, we asked a flight attendant about getting our connection. No problem, they will make an announcement when we get nearer. Well, they do make a very vague announcement about someone helping us when we disembark (now, where have I heard that one before?). Since we are sitting right at the back of the plane, I mutter something about letting off connecting passengers first. I know, you are not going to believe this, but two seconds later we get an announcement requesting non-connecting passengers to stay in their seats to allow connecting passengers off first. At this point, I am considering a full body search, since I have obviously been bugged. Since we are landing in Bogotá, I may even get one!
So, we now come to the most amusing part of the flight. You know the bit, just after landing, where they request you to stay in your seats until the plane has come to a full stop and the seat belt lights have been switched off? Well, they made that announcement, and as soon as we touched down, about a dozen people leapt out of their seats and started grabbing their bags, coats etc. A flight attendant came running out and requested, very politely (she is Canadian, after all) that everyone remain in their seats. Everyone ignores her. She then turns into the flight attendant from a give up smoking ad, the one where she comes out and screams at the passengers that “The seat belt light is on!” That ad always cracks me up, since that is what I would be like all the time if I were a flight attendant, which is why I am not. Anyway, the people did finally sit down and until we reached the gate. At this point, everyone leapt out of their seats again. Apparently, everyone has another flight to catch, except for one nice gentleman sitting in front of us. He let us go before him – well, he had just come back from Victoria on Vancouver Island, so some Canadian-ness must have rubbed off on him.
Next, through Columbia security. Mr. DBM and I get split up – him down the Senor aisle, me down the Senora aisle. All is going well until the woman wanding me and patting me down says something to me – in Spanish. My blood runs cold. What did she say? I don’t know! So, here it is, the perfect time for me to use one of the only two Spanish phrases that I know – “no hablo Espanol” or “No entiendo” Perfect opportunity, and what do I do? I just stare at her, like some complete idiot, like the most stupid person in the world. She repeats herself. I stand and stare. Eventually, she gives me a very scornful look and starts on the next person. I grab my bags and run, find Mr. DBM and cling onto him and tell him to never, ever to leave me on my own again. I am off to a fine start, world traveller that I am.
We do make it to our connection, and, after a short flight and the smoothest deplaning, immigration, customs, luggage retrieval and taxi to our hotel ever, we sink into our beds. Mr. DBM falls into a deep and snorey sleep. Me, I am up half the night with a headache, tingling extremities and a couple of bouts of throwing up. In the morning..........
Me: “I threw up a couple of times last night, my head hurts and have tingling toes.”
Mr. DBM: “Well, it could be due to you being tired, the altitude medication that we are on or just the altitude.”
Me: “Did you say it was my attitude?”
Mr. DBM: “There is no room for humour on this trip!”
So starts our 4 month South American Odyssey. Tomorrow we have big plans for doing nothing, interspersed by napping and avoiding all elevation gain or exercise, except the stairs to our room – we can’t avoid those. Next time, I am requesting a ground level room. Still, all this sitting around doing nothing has given us the idea of opening up oxygen bars for all the tourists in cities above 7000ft. “O2 to Go - we fulfill all your oxygen needs.”
PS. It just took 3 hours to post this damn post, since the keyboard has a peculiar layout, I couldn't log on and it kept giving me lots of helpful hints about what I was doing wrong in Spanish. It didn't help that half the symbols on the keyboard have rubbed off. Mierda - thanks English Mum!