My San Salvador Snack - Fanta and a local pastry!
My adventure to Ecuador actually began quite nicely. An awesome friend took me to the airport and I got there in plenty of time. Security and the bag drop weren’t even too painful this time. My first leg was from Washington-Dulles to San Salvador in El Salvador. This is about a 3.5 hour flight. The plane I was on wasn’t too bad and had the individual entertainment units so I was able to catch a movie I hadn’t seen and I even watched it in Spanish to start my adventure off right. Since I knew I won’t get much sleep that first night I even took a short nap. Boring, I know, but uneventful is good, right?
I landed in El Salvador without too much of a problem even though this flight had taken off about 40 minutes late. I had time to get a snack and use the restroom (the most important things). As I was throwing away the items from my snack I noticed that my flight information had disappeared from my gate board. I thought this was odd since no changes had been announced. I went and explored a little and noticed my flight had completed disappeared from the departure board.
Have you ever had one of those complete moments of panic when traveling where you wonder what the heck just happened and how you get into that situation? Yep that was me!
I went back to the gate and stood around the counter with a few other people who seemed to have come to the same realization I had – that all our flight information had disappeared from all of the boards, without any announcement given. From some of the bits of conversations happening I heard things such as 5 hour delay, no pilots, etc. Not really inspiring any confidence!!!
My Saturday night dinner and bed.
Finally, as I was standing there, they made the announcement that our flight was on a 5 hour delay and would depart around midnight (no reason was given). No offers of alternative flights were given, no vouchers for hotels, nothing. At this point all of the restaurants, stores, everything in the airport were also closing so I was extremely happy I had gotten my little snack when I did.
I tried to connect to the internet to call my contacts in Ecuador to let them know I won’t need to be picked up in a few hours but you couldn’t connect to the internet without a Claro (South American brand) cell phone or Claro internet card. I went to the airline VIP lounge to see about getting a pass but they wanted $25 for 4 hours (no thank you) and said you can’t get an internet card since the people that sell them are not here! Ok so how do I let someone know I am late? They did let me make a call so that was something.
Then I had to spend what turned out to be 6 hours in the very small and humid San Salvador airport without internet for a delay no one could give a reason for. I will say they did finally bring us dinner, which wasn’t so good. I managed to catch a nap in the uncomfortable chairs too.
However, when we finally left we were 6 hours late and instead of getting to sleep in a bed in Quito I slept in the San Salvador airport in my same travel clothes and now had to go directly to my connecting flight to Cuenca, which I just made given we were even later.
View from my room
The flight to Cuenca was really interesting too. Never a dull moment on my trips!! It was an Airbus 319 to a small airport filled with about 20 people, mostly Chinese men. The flight was only about 35 minutes. I did dowse most of the way until we were making our descent and all of a sudden the plane starts ascending and accelerating at the same time. The pilot comes on and says the conditions were not good for landing and they need to try again. Great!! When we are finally ready to try again the pilot comes on and tells the flight attendants, in Spanish, to prepare for a short and fast landing! What does that mean? (This is one of those times where you wish you didn’t know another language!)
Well that means that you come in hard and use the entire small runway! It also means you need to make sure your brakes work really well too because you will need them for this type of landing! At this point I was so tired all I did was close my eyes and pray for the best. There wasn’t anything else I could do from inside the plane!!
This was my welcome to Ecuador!!
From here things have gone much more smoothly (some sleep has helped too) and there has been tons of Spanish use but I am saving that for another blog. As you can see it has definitely been an adventure so far!
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