Saturday, February 24, 2007

Homeward Bound - NOT!

Got to the airport 2 hours before my flight and there is a pretty long line up. I say my farewells to Maria Cecilia and get into the queue. Started chatting with a couple yanks, one an older lady in her mid-fifties, the other a tween that just finished his student exchange program. 9/11 and iraq are still topics of discusion. Get to the counter, check my bags and have to make my to emmagration. First I have to pass through and pay an airport tax, which added an extra 15 minute delay before getting into the emmagration queue.

I have an hour before boarding I'm still in the emmagration queue, and time is ticking. Damn French!!! There was a large group of French nationals a head of me in the various queues, and I got stuck behind a group that didn't do spanish, and their attempts at english were worse then my attempts at spanish. To top it off, the customs agent in my queue was going under going training. Neither her or her supervisor spoke or understood a lick of french. (In Baños, there was a French couple, they at least spoke english, who were fighting with the hotel owner over rates. They were complaining that one of the hotels up the street had a better rate... by the third morning I was ready to snap and shout, "If you could have stayed up the street why the hell didn't you, now shut the hell up some of us are still trying to sleep".... something about every room in town is book...) The french group cleared, then a mother and child ahead of me. The child didn't have the proper identity card or some crap... SIGH.... 15 minutes till boarding and ticking.... *censored* come on people time is ticking.... Now I hear them paging me, and of course the people need to re-check my carry ons.... 2 security people are running with me down toward the gate ... while they are holding the plane for me.

Made it, plane is full, but again the aisle seat gives me the extra couple inches I need, I took a couple of immodium as a precaution and even if it causes a regression in my GI treatment I'll be home soon and can get re-treated. Desayuno on the plane was a nicely seasoned omelette with a reasonably flavoured salsa, mom and dad probably couldn't eat it, but by no means as picante (spicy) as I would like. But, given my GI condition may be a little less picante is ok. Spanish movie on the flight so I just crash until I make it to Miami.

It took about an hour to clear US Immigration, now I gotta get my checked luggage and clear US customs and get it back into checked luggage. They post the carousel that the luggage is supposed to come on, then they change to a different carrousel. Mass stampede towards the new carrousel. 10 minutes later the post it going back to the original carrousel, and everyone stampedes again. Get my stuff, and get it rechecked. Now to get to my gate, next stop chicago. I get to A and then I see they've change my flight to D... sigh ... I run to D, I hate Miami International Airport... and nope back to A.... half way to A I see every turning around back to D. I'm running with my stuff, and chatting with part of the flight crew. who is also annoyed at the gate changes. Then we see more people that would fight on a 767 or an A321-200. Flight to Chicago has been delayed, and most of the people waiting at the gate are travelling stand-by.

It begins, flight is delayed 1 hour. People are starting to get antsy. Several other Chicago flights are now delayed or cancelled, and the bigger line ups at the gate. Poor gal at the counter is getting bombarded with questions, for which she doesn't have the answers. My flight has been cancelled but they rebook me on the the next flight. More people are getting pissed and angry, we didn't have any info as to what's going on, and almost all of us had connections to make in chicago. I texted Maria Cecilia, that I was at the Miami "Zoo". She texted me back saying take pictures, I then had to explain, in gringo, a zoo is when gringos understress behave like latinos in everyday life. In Ecuador when 50 people are shouting at each other and the ticket agent things magically would happen and get resolved, no ill will, and a minimum of bad blood. Yanks in an airport fraught with delays..... 10 people shouting and you'd think the world was ending. Finally additional ticket agents came to the gate area and started collecting boarding passes and trying to rejig who was going where, and notified us, no one will be making any connections. There is a big storm in chicago so TFB.

I was able to get a seat, on the last flight that would be permitted to land in Chicago that day, with no flights leaving O'Hare. Managed to grab a couple bags of things before the flight and somemore water, took the last of my meds, but my lower GI is none to happy. The inflight movie was The Queen. Didn't mind it. Landed at O'Hare and the airport is very quiet.

My luggage is checked to YEG so I didn't have to worry about it. I now get into the next queues to figure out my flight options for my last leg. All my previous flights were either on Air Canada, or American Airlines, the last leg was on United. After 2 hours in the queue I start speaking with a ticking agent, the d00d was still in not bad spirits all things considered. Chicago to Edmonton, soonest possible route in any direction, Via Toronto, nope; Via Denver, nope; San Francisco, nope; Vancouver, nope. Can you land me in Calgary and I can bus it to Edmonton.... Can't do that either. So I'm not comming home Sunday, Monday perhaps? Kewl, I'm comming home monday, via denver and I get a bump to first class, because those were the only seats left on Monday. Kewl, they also gave me a voucher for a discounted hotel room. So I call the room reservation number, and of course with O'Hare being shutdown, most everything is full. I told the guy I don't care about a shuttle, where is the "closest" hotel with a room. Got my info and made my way to the taxis.

Get out the taxis stands and OMG the line ups.... sigh ... well I need to figure out where I'm going. Chicago has fixed rates from the airport to various burbs. I was standing infront of the rate chart, and the gruff old greek cabbie asked me where I was going and gave me a price. Was $10 over chart but *censored* I'll take it, I jumped the line and got myself a cab. The driver started to pull and and the airport staff waived him on. He tried to park again and the airport staff shewed him off. He pulled out then pulled back in, and shouted his destination, and his price. He was basically going to capitalize on the weather. Another guy, going to the same hotel, and another couple going further said done. No we weren't splitting fares, each person was gonna pay the rate. We jumped a five hour wait, I wasn't gonna mess around with the driver. The couple tried to re-negotiate the rate, and this got the driver going. He started cursing and said "if you don't like it I can drop you off at the side of the road, and see how long you wait." They finally shut the hell up and I got to the hotel.

A hilton, with full convention facilities. kewl but it's around 1 AM and everything in the hotel is mostly closed. I get checked in and ask the hostess what my food options were a couple of pizza places that have menus with the hotel. Something I've never heard of and Giordano's. Score!!!! Giordano's is one of the original Chicago Deep Dish stuffed crust pizzas. One of the season's of the amazing race made teams eat a small cheese stuffed crust deepdish. I ordered myself a chicken parm sandwich, and a medium, Tropic Delight stuffed crust deepdish..... Had the sandwich with the trimmings for supper, the pizza would be for all day tomorrow.

A hot shower, damn was it nice to have "hot" water again. At altitude water boils at lower and lower temperatures, good ol' Boyles or was it Charles' Law... hmmm I'll have to go look that up later.... anyway in quito and baños, by my comfort level, no hot water. I don't need it to scald me like in my apartment or peel my skin off like my parents, but steam should be involved. Hot shower, was nice. Took the last of my meds from ecuador, and then my food was here.... OMG the sauce on the chicken parmesan, some flavour some kick, I didn't chance the bannana pepper, but I wanted too.

Time to crash.....

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