After all the trauma of changing flights, Tuesday turned into a better travel experience than expected.
Our first flight out of Medellin did not leave until 10:30am as opposed to the original 7:30am. With an hour-long ride to the airport, we were able to get a night’s sleep rather than get ready before dawn was thinking about breaking.
At the airport, we could not find where we were to check in for our LAN Airline flight. I showed the itinerary to an Avianca representative and she showed me their counter. After standing in line for 25 minutes, the agent informed us we were at the wrong counter. We needed to go to LAN. But, but, but your representative said…
LAN is in the next building out of view from the Avianca counters, but once there, we were first in line. We were only able to get boarding passed as far as Bogotá. This meant having to get our luggage in Bogotá before returning to the check-in desks once again for the next segment of the flight on Avianca. The LAN agent suggested we return to Avianca’s counters to see if they could provide our boarding passes from Bogotá to Quito. Then in Bogotá, we could immediately go to the Luggage Drop off.
When we returned to Avianca’s counter, the agent who previously sent us away, called us over allowing us to skip the line. She did not speak English, so she had to get a colleague to explain they can only provide boarding passes for flights leaving from Medellin, not beyond.
Once in Bogotá, we patiently waited for our luggage, and then went to Avianca for our next boarding passes. It was less painless than expected. Avianca is efficient so we did have time to spare before needing to wander to the gate.
Our favorite places in airports around the world are the Diner’s Club lounges. This one was immediately accessible. Partnered with Avianca, this lounge is magnificent. There is one huge room for families with children’s toys, play areas, and televisions to entertain the little ones without disturbing business travelers elsewhere. Another room has a grandiose sized television with business news. To the side of that is a business center with computer, all free to use. The main area covers more territory than most people’s homes; filled with comfortable seating along with side tables, it is perfect space to work or eat.
Then there is the food. Grilled chicken, boiled slice ham, cheese cubes were set out to garnish the green salad. Varieties of sandwiches were a great hit and kept disappearing as fast as they trays of them reappeared. Choice of drinks ran the gamut, pleasing anyone’s palate. It was with difficulty that we pulled ourselves out of there to get to our flight.
Avianca gets two thumbs up each time we have had the opportunity to fly with them. The leg room is generous, they have seat back entertainment even for short flights, and the crew is always gracious. The flight was just over an hour and we were in Quito.
Déjà vu, we waited for the luggage, went through Passport Control, Immigration, and then once again out of the airport secure zone to entered once again to check in for the next flight.
We have been in the Diner’s Club lounge in Quito’s international terminal, but never the domestic one. We were not sure what to expect. It was a shocker. Covering the walls were huge extraordinary contemporary weaving. Food offerings were so extensive; it was like a buffet restaurant. We had pigged out in Bogotá leaving no room for more. I did indulge in the iced coffee.
LAN Ecuador for our next flight to Cuenca is quick, easy and friendly. Flight time is about 55 minutes and the airport is small, so we barely waited any time at all for our luggage.
One side note: I could not help but notice that every female employee at all the South American airports (Airline and security) and flight crews we experienced this trip all had their hair pulled back in buns. Not a single woman employee had short hair and not one of them let their hair hang down to their shoulders. Tempted as I was to ask a flight attendant about this, I thought it might seem intrusive.
Among the crowd of greeters as we emerged from the luggage area, we discovered Craig Arrowsmith holding a sign with our names. His personable greeting gave us the feeling we had known each other for years already. We rented an apartment in he and his wife’s newly remodeled home.
As we entered the courtyard, we knew we hit the jackpot. There is an entrance from the courtyard to our favorite coffee shop from our last visit. Thankfully, it moved from its former location. Now it is at our doorstep. Charming is an understatement. What was an even greater surprise was that Ileana and Craig has a $10 gift certificate for the coffee shop so we could get our first breakfast.
Ileana is a charmer. She and Craig have created a beautiful space. We were overwhelmed with the little touches we have not found anywhere else. In each previous place, we have bought salt, pepper, sugar, coffee filters, trash bags, cleaning products, laundry detergent, dish washing soap, bathroom soap and the list goes on. Here, we did not need to worry about any of these items. They are all present and accounted for, but also, there is a gorgeous bouquet of roses and each room has diverse and pleasing artwork.
Once we settled in, Ileana and Craig invited us upstairs to their apartment for wine. Scott and Curt, guys we enjoyed company with last time were there to play games. Though we interrupted it for some time, we did convince them to start the game. They love games and cards, Craig and Ileana love games and cards; we may never leave.
Look, the study come with a secretary already installed. How great is that.
If you have not yet shouted “Hallelujah!” let me say it for you. HALLELUJAH!