Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trapped in Quito.

Although we arrived at the airport 2.5 hours prior to our flight, the airport gods have worked against us. Due to some technical problems we were not able to get onto our flight.

We found this out after waiting a significant time in a line that was not moving. A LAN employee stood near us and made a proclamation. With all my amazing Spanish skills I was able to pick out one word. "Cancelar" Or something like that.

We were given 2 options, as far as I could understand it anyway. We could fly instead to Lima, then Punta Cana, then Miami (arriving at 10pm). This option was not desirable to me, as I only have enough Ativan for 3 flights. The second option was a $500 voucher for LAN, a hotel, and meals until the next flight tomorrow. We obviously picked option B. This seemed like it would be simple. It was not.

Stage 1 - Get moved from giant queue to smaller queue (because we volunteered to fly tomorrow)

Stage 2 - Wait 15ish minutes to speak to an agent who tells us we can´t fly today. Thanks agent. Even though I actually really ended up liking the agent. She re-schedules our flight for tomorrow. Perfect. Now about my $500 dollars

Stage 3 - Walk to a different office/counter where we wait 30-40 minutes for our vouchers. Its no ordinary line up. It is filled with angry Spanish speakers and crying children. People keep butting in line, and we have no idea what is going on, because my idea of speaking Spanish involves adding the "o" sound to the end of English words. It was a bit frustrating, but eventually we got it sorted out. We have to sign something, which I am semi-convinced is a slavery contract. Now about my hotel. And transportation to the hotel. And what will I eat all day. Etc.

Stage 4 - We are instructed to "step aside" and wait for the magical LAN employee who bears the booklet full of vouchers for hotel stays. This takes lord knows how much longer. She writes an illegible hotel name on a voucher, ticks off a few meals, writes that we are both eligible for a 3 minute phone call and then instructs us that to arrange transport we should.... Go to the main check in counter. Again. I am skeptical.

Stage 5 - Waiting for the transportation. We do this completely out of principle because a taxi ride practically anywhere is only 3 to 6 dollars, depending on your haggling skills. But we wait anyway. We go back to the counter, where madness is ensuing. There is actually people shouting at the staff. This always seems completely retarded to me, because yelling is really going to help you out. Anyway we ask someone about the transportation and they ask us to wait. Which we do for an hour. I then employ my new tactic, which is "stand in the middle of everything and be completely in the way." Then we are actually addressed, and asked to wait in a different spot. I entertain myself by weighing myself on the luggage scale (68 KG with backpack) and commiserating with those around me. We wait and wait.

Stage 6 - The previous agent who I have come to love takes us outside to where hotel transportation should come get us. She looks like she could cry at any minute and is obviously prolonging going back into the hell that is the LAN check-in. The bus arrives! She tells us we will have to wait 30 minutes for it to leave, because we are the only ones outside and there are a bajillion people who need to get moved to this hotel. Which I am not sure exists, and think it may actually be the LAN cargo hold.

Stage 7 - The bus refuses to wait! Yay us! We travel the short distance to a VERY VERY nice hotel, which we are all awkward and weird in, wearing our dirty and torn travel clothes.

Total time for this to take place. 3 Hours.

What follows is free breakfast, a massage (that I pay for), a steam room, a sauna, a nap, a free lunch (somewhat awkward, what with my awesome Spanish) and a completely relaxing day in Quito. In a hotel in Quito anyway.

(please note: what you see is a bouquet of live roses)

Home tomorrow. Hopefully.

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