Tuesday, April 30, 2013 – Quito, Ecuador
Bruce and I headed to The States today to visit family. I was awake most of the night, worried that we wouldn’t make it to the plane on time. One-eyed Bill can only drive during daylight hours and we were cutting it close. Bill’s a very cautious driver, probably due to that one-eye thing. He picked us up on-time and the first quarter of our trip was smooth sailing, but no sooner had the words “at least we shouldn’t have any real traffic at this time of the morning” come out of his mouth the brake lights in front of us started to glow. It seemed like every chicken truck in Ecuador was ahead of us on the mountainous roads heading to the airport and they just don’t go too fast when loaded down. Then there were the school zones. Hundreds of uniformed children heading off to school. They are a precious sight, even today, but the delays just seemed to mount.
Bill may have only one eye, but he has a double-dose of calm. As I prayed that God’s will be done, Bill’s soothing voice and amusing stories helped keep me relaxed. During the last leg of our journey one of the chicken trucks Bill fought so hard to pass, passed us. Bill sighed. I laughed and blurted out “We just got passed by a chicken truck!” Then Bill and Bruce both joined my laughter.
When we arrived at the new airport in Quito, Bill helped us unload our bags. The new airport is big and gleaming, and well… new. We needed to check two bags. There was no one waiting at the American Airlines ticket counter. The clerk informed us that we were too late to get our boarding passes. We were just over an hour early, but you are supposed to arrive two hours before an international flight. Thank God I had printed our boarding passes the night before. I showed them to her. She was relieved (but I’m sure not as much as I was). She checked our bags and we were on our way.
Passing through security was fast and easy, even though Bruce left his keys in his pocket and set off the metal detector. Once at the gate we found two seats. Bruce was then called to the gate desk. He’d been selected for additional screening. Since he was not in the area when I was called to board I grabbed all four of our carry-ons and got in line. Thinking I would be stopped for sure, I began formulating my explanation in my head – “my husbands been called for additional screening”. How do I say screening in Spanish? I began to feel anxious.
No body stopped me, or even looked at me twice, as I fumbled down the corridor, a bag in each hand and one hanging from each shoulder. I made my way through the plane, my bags hitting many a seated passenger, as I begged to be excused. Finally in my seat I found a home for each of the bags. Then a nice young man from England sat next to me. He was on his way home after his week-long holiday in Ecuador. We chatted.
Several minutes went by before Bruce reappeared. It was good to see him coming down the aisle. He didn’t think I’d make it on the plane with all four bags, and had gone back to the gate area to find me.
Our flight was uneventful until the pilot attempted to land at Miami International Airport (MIA). He was within 500 feet of the runway when he suddenly aborted the landing stating that due to severe weather we were being diverted to Fort Meyers? This was not a big deal for us, but it was huge for the young man sitting next to me. This was just part 1 of his 3-part flight back home. This would surely put a kink in his itinerary. I reassured him, letting him know the airline would try to get him on a flight and if they couldn’t that day, they would give him a room and food vouchers and get him on his way the next day. Then I whispered into Bruce’s ear, asking if we could take him to our hotel if he ends up stranded. Bruce agreed. We could not leave this kid alone with no money, no food, and no where to sleep.
The plane returned to MIA over 3-hours later. We debarked, and headed to customs, losing track of our cabin mate. The area for US citizens and visitors are at extreme ends of the customs area that looked to be the size of two football fields.
Bruce and I made made it through quickly and headed towards baggage claim. I kept looking around, but never did see the kid again. I pray he made it home all right.