Before we get to what's going on now in preparation for our move I want to first recap our exploratory trip to Cuenca last summer. Day 1 was special because it didn't happen. Well, of course it did happen, but what happened isn't what was supposed to happen. But we're glad it happened anyway. Let me explain.
I spent a great deal of time on several search engines putting our flights together. I guess I have a Baby Bear (from Goldilocks and the-----) fetish about layovers---I don't like them too long, of course they can't be too short, so I want them "just right."
After exhaustive effort I patched together, with 3 different airlines, what appeared to be the perfect schedule. My daughter, a much more seasoned traveler than me, warned that I was playing with fire not booking through a single site or, most preferably, a single airline. "Don't worry about it, " I said with confidence. "This is going to work out great!"
Well, guess what. For a change I was right--sort of. But the beginning of our trip went totally haywire anyway.
We first flew to LAX to board an Avianca airlines flight to Quito, Ecuador. No problemo (see, I've been working on my Spanish). Except that flight ended up leaving 3 1/2 hours late, creating the start of a very unusual day.
When I booked this flight it showed a somewhat mysterious "technical stop" at an undisclosed location. I assumed this meant a quick refueling stop, maybe in Panama, where we stay on the plane, some folks would get off, some other folks would get on, and we'd be on our way to Quito. I was sure I'd scheduled plenty of time in spite of our late departure to catch our connecting flight to Cuenca. Silly me.
You know how we find it amusing when people who speak a different language than ours kind of mess up the translation? Well, it turns out our "technical stop" was a full-fledged layover in Bogata, Columbia, which would have still been fine except the flight to Quito had already left. The next flight didn't leave until 4-something in the afternoon. Before anyone could whine and complain the airline immediately shuttled us and some other travelers to a nice nearby hotel for the day. Wow! We got to shower, eat, and relax a bit before returning to the airport.
Security is a little different in Columbia than we're used to. Instead of folks with white shirts and dark pants we had to negotiate a phalanx of soldiers with scary-looking rifles. Yikes! Guys in one line, ladies in the other. FULL patdown. But, hey, we did get to keep our shoes on.
Guess what--the next flight was late leaving too and it was the last one to Cuenca (sigh). I somehow managed to persuade the Avianca people to take care of us and not leave us stranded given the circumstances (quite a feat considering their limited English and my nonexistent Spanish). They put us up for the night at a really nice Hilton, and we were given free meals and transportation back and forth. Plus the young woman who assisted us was SO helpful; she was sick as a dog but insisted on standing with us outside the airport on a chilly night until our ride arrived.
After a good night's sleep we caught an AM flight (also late---geez, welcome to Latin America, huh?) and finally made it to our planned hotel by noon. We lost a day, but we gained so much by managing to stay calm and centered throughout the experience (in earlier times I would have totally Hulked ). In this "is what it is" frame of mind we were open to receiving the kindness of so many total strangers who made a somewhat harrowing journey unexpectedly enjoyable. It felt like the universe was truly supporting our direction.