Lost with a Boyfriend: Ecuador or Bust!

Air, Couples Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Ecuador, Leaving & Coming Home — By on February 28, 2008 at 9:07 pm

LG’s Law of Travel #483: The better prepared you attempt to be for your journey, the more egregiously your best-laid plans will veer off course.

Jen, Holly and I pretty much relied on dumb luck, and the occasional kindness of embassy officials,to get us from point A to B during our year around the world. But since Jeff and I had never traveled internationally together, I was determined nothing would go wrong and I planned accordingly. Big mistake.

The first domino toppled when the Dial 7 car service I’d pre-ordered to take us from my Lower East Side apartment to the airport at 5:00am never showed (I live on the East River near the Manhattan Bridge where no yellow cab dares to tread). Nearly 30 minutes, several frantic phone calls and absolutely no answers from the company later, Jeff and I tore off down the streets with our suitcases and managed, miraculously, to find another overpriced vehicle to take us to JFK. Racing through the streets of Queens in the predawn, pre-gridlock hours, we congratulated ourselves for making it to the airport in just under 20 minutes. That’s when we walked inside the terminal to find a line at the Avianca desk so long, it looked like an American Idol general casting call.

We walked and walked and walked until we found the end of it, and stood there dumbly for several minutes, noticing that nobody was moving. Not an inch. T-minus 90 minutes til our flight departed. Then one hour. Then 45 minutes. The line refused to snake forward, not even a few feet.

All the while I was torn between my desire to be a lighthearted, cute and fun travel buddy to Jeff (we’ve only been dating 5 months, after all), and the now-thoroughly seasoned, airport-wizened, take-no-bullshit road warrior that I actually am. As the clock ticked down to ½ hour before our flight, I finally broke down, grabbed the lone Spanish-speaking Avianca ticket helper and frantically told him that we were going to miss our flight if we didn’t move up. Amazingly, her responded, moving us up in line. By T-minute 20 minutes til departure, we were standing in front of a ticket agent who peered at us apologetically and said. “Oh yes, I am sorry, but we have overbooked your plane and you cannot go today. Next!”

That’s when I lost it.

“What??! You can’t do this to us! We booked our flight months ago!” I shrieked, making a total scene.

“Yes, I understand, but every airline reserves the right to overbook the flight by 3 percent, and everyone else has checked in. You’ll just have to go tomorrow.”

With that, I erupted into tears, and moved away from the counter, afraid of doing something illegal to ticket agent. Jeff stood there, champ that he was, and tried to talk some sense into the guy. Finally, the man picked up the phone and called a supervisor, who told him that for a pair of $600 vouchers, two volunteers had gotten off the flight and we could indeed get checked on.

Snatching our tickets, we tore off through security and barely made the flight. We later realized that the ticket agent had neglected to print our connecting boarding passes, requiring us to go through immigration in Columbia, exit the terminal and try to explain our situation (in Spanish) to a reservation agent in Bogotá.

Collecting out tickets, we finally checked onto our next flight (delayed by two hours) and made the short flight to Quito. I prayed to the travel gods that this inauspicious start was not the sign of things to come.

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    3 Comments

  • some dreamer. says:

    Wow,

    what a flights.
    I must admit, I like your whole traveling thing, I once had a wanderlust moment, now it’s kind of drifted off or calmed down a bit, but I want to travel around the world too. :D

    Good Luck

  • dan says:

    Just a quick note,it’s Colombia not Columbia. Have fun in Ecuador.

  • Camels & Chocolate says:

    That sounds about how every one of my trips begins! And I still cry every single time =)