Chapter 16 – Aruba to Ecuador 12/16/2018

Up very early, not a creature is stirring – just a mouse and a small teddy bear.  Off to the airport and through immigration and security without any problems.

To the gate – gate two in plenty of time.  Then what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a gate change and flight delay.

“What do you think Nilla, will we make the connection in Bogota?”

“Shouldn’t  be a problem as long as we leave by 11:30 – ‘Avinunca’.”

A little warm cheese sandwich and beverage on a short flight – pleasant.

Bogota’s airport is a large international airport with moving sidewalks and signage indicating how long it will take the average person to walk from one gate to the next.

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On the electronic flight listing in Bogota, we see that our next flight to Quito is already boarding – how can that be?

Rushing to the opposite end of terminal one, a crowd is gathered around the check-in desk.

The flight AV111 is canceled – or as ‘Avinunca’ prefers to explain, delayed, delayed considerably – to 3:30 and the gate is located at the other end of terminal one. Many unhappy passengers.

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“Jackson, we have a coupon for Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and some other fast food joint.” Avianca tries to appease unhappy and potentially hungry passengers.

“I’m not really hungry Nilla. There’s a line at food court anyway.”

Another passenger advises us that there is indeed a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby! And behold, there is no long line.  The cafe con leche is delicious!

Back at the newly designated gate, number 34 – the posting indicates a departure time of 2:30 to Quito – we might make the flight after all!

“Good thing that one of the Ts speaks Spanish, Nilla.”

Information is at a premium and sparse at best.  The departure time is a guesstimate, but as 2:15 PM comes and goes and no boarding, it’s clear that we will not make the connecting flight in Quito – not with having to claim the luggage and go through aduana and imigracion.  The issue also becomes apparent to ‘Aviunca’ and walkie-talkie conversations are volleyed between supervisors and gate staff.

We are assured that we will be issued new tickets for an 6:00 AM flight on Monday, December 17th and arrangements for an overnight hotel stay in Quito will be made.

Calls to Hotel Balandra in Manta to cancel our reservation, call to Dina about the change in taxi service and call to Amarita to advise her that we will be arriving in Crucita much earlier Monday morning.  All are gracious and understanding and even the hotel clears any charge for the late reservation cancellation!

Business class should be soothing – but we still don’t have tickets for tomorrow’s  flight.  The ticket agent comes on board and assures us once again that a representative will meet us in Quito and give us the tickets and hotel voucher.

A tasty little lunch and the flight a little over one hour, a glimpse of a snow-capped mountain as we approach the new Quito airport.  The Andes are impressive, more impressive than the Rockies.  Mariscal Sucre International has all the amenities that an international airport should have.  It is the busiest in South America.  The new airport, built in 2013, is located on the Oyambaro plain near the town of Tabalela, about 11 miles east of Quito.  The new airport is operated by Quiport under a concession agreement until 2040.  The airport handles more than six million passengers annually, one million of them tourists.  Tourism is increasing by about 3% yearly.  The old airport could not accommodate larger planes and became unsafe with one or two flights every year overshooting the short and narrow runway. At the insistence of the president, the new airport retained the name of the old one, and the site of the old airport is now a park.

There is no representative to meet us – we are instructed to go through immigration and baggage claim and then go upstairs to Avianca to inquire about the tickets and hotel voucher.

The line at the ticket counter is short and with only a short delay we are issued tickets for the 6:00 AM flight to Manta, given a dinner coupon, and hotel voucher and escorted to the Wyndham Hotel transfer van for the short five minute ride.

The staff at the Wyndham are friendly and very helpful.  They contact Avianca for dinner voucher approval for the buffet in their restaurant.

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The corner room looks out over the highways serving the airport and allow for watching incoming flights.

 

“Nilla, I’m exhausted!  While the Ts go downstairs for the buffet, lets call it a day!”

“Amen!”

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The Ts also call it ‘done’ after contacting Dina confirming the flight information and Amarita about our arrival time at Las Dunas.

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