Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Airplanes From Hell

Monday, ready or not, today is the day. I'm going to start my biggest adventure in many many years. Some might argue since at least high school but I'm not gonna think about it. 10 days in Ecuador, no work, no hockey just an adventure ahead. Lugage is packed, it took several tries to get it right, I even had to send Maria Cecilia's gift via DHL since my lugage was full... turns out, it was also over weight but not too bad. Kjell is a the kennel (really don't like abandonin g him but ....) Got's my reading material Eric Idle's The Road To Mars. 

Inspite of the web stuff I've read I'm taking a large complement of my photo gear, and I got myself a decent point and shoot for walking around. One full suitecase, one carry on of camera gear, and a backpack with an integrated waterbag and waterproof camera compartment. I'm set. Also have my usual fanny pack with a cd player and a couple of disks and all the stuff that makes metal detectors go beep in it.

Got a lift to the airport from my mate Andreas. The weather was foggy since ice crystals were floating in the air, Andreas wanted to play with his Tom Tom navigation system, so we had it show us the fastest route from my flat to the airport. Turns out that going through the back route (through Devon is fastest.)

It's about 22h30, I've got my boarding passes, am about to clear security and ZOT Random security check. Guess the guy was bored. It wasn't a strip search, but was an aggravation since I had several hidden belts on. When I looked like a crazed biker, not a big deal, but geeze mang, I almost look respectable now (DAMN, I still can't say that with a straight face). I finally got through security, now it's waiting for my 00h30 boarding call.

Edmonton Intl Airport

We board the plane on time, was a full red eye to TO, hmmm remind myself need business class if I'm on these cattle cars. The pilot queues us up for a good de-icing, starts powerin' everything up and then stops. Pilot tries again, and it sounds like someone winching the luggage compartments closed. Nope. Third times the charm...... HAHAHAHAHA.... plane has lost hydraulic pressure (should be 3000 psi, only have 700 according to the captain). We sit on the runway waiting for a maintanace crew.... tick tock, tick tock (you can play the final jeopardy theme here). No can do, the repair crew needs parts. We get to deplane. Time is ticking and my connection to Miami is looking in jeopardy (there's a song by Greg Kihn or Weird Al who's music could be played for this one.)

Yeah! New plane, and it's a larger capacity so the cattle car factor isn't as bad. It's ~ 02h30 and we are finally on our way, luggage was successfully transfered. People were bagged, guy next to me was sawin' logs somethin' fierce. Our inflight flick was Flushed Away.

TO - Pearson Intl Airport

I've lucked out. I'm gonna make my connection because they changed my plane from a 767 to an A321-200. This also means they've changed my gate and delayed the flights departure 3/4 of an hour, Whew. A little tired but nothin' that I haven't dealt with before, just grab some Timmies' and I'm golden.

Off to Miami

Got on the plane a little cramped but aisle seats are my friend (I can spill over into the aisle and no one complains :D). I was sitting by this nice old couple, they've been married 67 years.... WOW 67 years.... They were heading to Miami for a cruise. She was 87, he was older, I didn't catch his age. Spent time chatting with her about baking pies, how to make something less sweet and vegan friendly. She'd be talking about stuff, then suddenly, she'd doze off for a couple minutes, wake up and keep on going. The movie was Flicka, so I tried catching a couple zzzs but not many.

Arrived at Miami, need to get from Section F to Section D (American Airlines International Flights). Miami Internation is a dungeon, and I thought Pearson Terminal 1 was old and ugly.... bzzzt for me I have a new winner ... Miami.

Found customs, transfered my checked lugage, clear customs and security screening. What a pain us airports have become. Grabbed myself some sugar and a bevy then made my way to my departure gate.

For the first time in a long time I was a minority in looks and language. Was an interesting sensation.... Shades of "One of these things in not like the other" started playing through my mind. Most of the people at the gate area of course were latin american, and speaking spanish. If you have noticed, even after tanning the only dark thing about me is my soul..... even height, while I'm average height in my world, there I was like a freakin' giant. Was interesting.

Off to Quito

The plane was a 757 and was in super-cattle-car mode, and the plane was packed... hey it's Carnival in Ecuador and people are heading home. There was the odd seat but nothing worth trying to move to, mostly the odd centre seat. The flight was very different from the from what I'm accustomed to. People were yacking up a storm, lots more jawin' and socializin' than on a canuck or yank flight. I reminded me of the plane trips with the jazz choir back in high school... ( oooh thoose poor stews.... what a blast those trips were.) Food was great, a nice braised beef with mashed potatoes and a corn relish, damn wish I could have seconds.

Didn't recognize the movie, it was in español (go figure....) There were a handful of gringos on the plane, mostly clients of Eco Adventure. I was sitting by a tween who was going to school in the US and heading home to visit. The other guy, a yank from South Carolina, was heading to Ecuador to visit is daughter. Didn't catch the yanks occupation, but he has lived all over the world doing whatever it was he did.

Arrived in Quito. Lots of turbulence on the flight but nothing too scary. Cleared Ecuadoran Customs, met Maria Cecilia for the first time in person... We've chatted via IM and the phone but now we meet.... She brought a nice bouquet of flowers TKX. Caught a cab, and checked into the hotel. The Eugenia Hotel in quito is quite nice. I'm bagged I've been up since 10:00 Monday.

Had a quick shower and found a nice little taquería. Had a margarita, a michelada (beer,an ecuadorian pilsner, with aji salsa...)and a couple of crisp corn tacos, bif y pollo. The pollo was great, lotsa flavour the bif not so much. Need to watch my fluids at altitude, dehydration could be a problem. so far so good no need for the altitude meds.

I'm ready to crash...

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