Saturday, May 5, 2018

Saturday May 5, 2018 Voyages

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Saturday May 5, 2018
Firstly, I need to pass along condolences to Warren Light on the loss of his wife Linda today.  Deaths are always a shock, especially when you just saw the person, apparently healthy, just weeks before.  Warren and Linda have been regular fixtures at Joes' for years.
Last night Gustavo picked me up at 6:30 and we got into the VIP and old folk's line-up at the TAME counter at the airport.  TAME does not use machines for pre-boarding, etc, and their people seem so darn clueless half the time that the lines take forever to clear.  I am not a fan of TAME as a result but they are the only ones with reasonable flights to Cali from Cuenca.
Now I had been to their main office at the airport many times and I made sure to confirm how many bags that I could take on the flight(s) to Cali, because their website is definitely confusing.  I thought that I could have 1 bag free, and then 2 more at 23 kgs each but they were quite emphatic that I could only have 1 extra at a charge of $20.  I asked about bringing extra weight and they said that up to 32 kgs was another $20.
So, here I am with one bag at 22 kgs and the second monster at 31kgs.  I am handed the boarding pass and sent on my way, with a very puzzled look on my face.  They had made it sound like they were only going to charge me $20 but they never gave me anything like the last time.  So I clear security and am in the waiting lounge when I think I hear them paging my name with very bad pronunciation.  I finally am taken back to the ticket counter, given a slip to go pay $20 at the main office, and then I return to the ticket counter with the receipt, and a copy for me.  Then of course I have to clear security again...  It is a good thing that I have the clothing and carry-ons down to a science already.
We leave Cuenca after 9pm and land in rainy Quito (they had severe hail and floods the day before).  I need to pick up the bags and rent a cart for $3 because dragging that monster bag that has suddenly lost a wheel is definitely no fun.
They won't let me check the bags so I am stuck there with all this baggage, and I am not alone, because Quito has the worst, stupid flight connections on the planet.  Naturally I get zero sleep.  And the Cinnabon counter was closed for the night so I wasn't pleased about that.
I am the second person in line at the counter because I was told they would open at 4am, but this is Ecuador, so make that 4:30am.  Now the Quito ticket agent is giving me grief because they want to interpret the rules differently than Cuenca and they are checking with people all over.  I get mad and show them the printout of their baggage policy and show where I had written down the 32 kg limit for the overweight bag, and I show them the receipt for the $20.  I told them that I was willing to pay the extra $20 for the overweight luggage.  After this guy runs around for 20 minutes, leaving only one other agent for the long line-up, (and I wasn't the only passenger getting grief), he asks if he can keep my copy of the $20 receipt as proof, I say sure, and  he finally lets me go.
Then the flight that was to leave at 7:30 at Gate D2 was changed to 8am at Gate D5.  I contacted Cristina to tell her that I would be delayed and to come meet me in Cali at 11am instead of 10am, because I expected further delay at the Esmeraldas stop as per usual.  I try to get a few winks unsuccessfully.  
We get away around 8:15 with very few passengers and I am the first person to get to the immigration desk in Esmereldas.  I was passed to the young guy who was just a trainee the last time in March, and he was so quick that I was just stunned, ...and the turnaround to get back to the plane was quick, although we were held up because of one passenger who took her sweet time to get on the aircraft.
We reach Cali around 10:20 and I get another "by the book" Immigration agent who saw my Canadian passport and insisted on charging me the reciprocal fee of $201,000 pesos ($73.11 USD) because the Canadian government charges Colombians a fee to go to Canada...  Grrrr.  I had a nice agent in March who waived it after I gave him my story.  My Canadian debit card would not work but my Banco Pichincha card did.  So there I am, holding up the lineups again.  Then more security x-ray screening and I am out and waiting for Cristina at 10:40.  I call her and she says she stopped for a coffee at the bus station but would leave right away.  So, there I am again, with all these bags sitting in the sun, and she just misses one bus so she doesn't get there until 11:45.  
Then we take a bus back to the Cali bus station to catch a different bus to Tulua.  Instead of the expected arrival at noon, it was now 2pm and I had already been up for 32 hours.
I am greeted by the 5 dogs left in the house with great enthusiasm as they are so happy to see Dad who will take them for the occasional walk.  Yes, from 18 dogs, Cristina is back down to just 5, Turi, Mariposa, Buddy, Princesa and Negrita.  Oh, actually it is 6, because she is also nursing a baby pup that was run over accidentally by 2 motorbikes and it is as yet unable to walk.  It was almost dead when she nursed it back and now it it is eating well but is still not showing any signs of mobility, the poor thing.  And she has also turned back the 3 baby herons into the wild after nursing them too.  I am so proud of the good heart of this wonderful woman who I am proud to have as my wife.
Unpacking was interesting because I had forgotten a lot of the things that I had packed away starting Wednesday.  As far as I can tell, everything except the bags themselves came through all the rough handling.  Cristina was very happy to see some of the things I managed to bring.

So, after a shower and a snuggle nap we are somewhat back to normal.
I apologize that I was not in a picture-taking mood today although I did have the Lumix with me.  And I am kicking myself somewhat because the morning fog at the Quito airport was mesmerizing in its beauty, sorry.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.  That was the day’s excitement.
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I caught Princesa with the new Canon

Turi, Princesa and Buddy are keeping me company

Oh, how I  have missed my calm beautiful Turi...