Posted by: tim ellis | February 5, 2009

Ecuador – Monday 21 July, 2008

When I arrive for breakfast Doris informs me that the driver is already here, so we make an early start at about 7:45 – I have a minibus all to myself and a driver who speaks no English! We don’t return the same way we came, but the road is much the same – intermittent speed bumps, and ever present pot holes, until we cross into a new province, where the road becomes noticeably better, no doubt due to the funding from the two toll gates we also pass through.

There are no real hold ups and we get to the airport just after 11. I join the queue at the Aerogal desk, and despite the best efforts of various Ecuadorian queue jumpers, make it to the desk and hand over my reservation number and collect my ticket, before being directed to windows 41-45. I find an empty window, but the girl there speaks no English – she calls a colleague, who, on hearing my accent asks “Are you English? Oh my god, I’m from Ireland” – I guess she doesn’t get to see many people from the British Isles working in Ecuador National Departures… She explains my flight has been cancelled (great!) but I have been reallocated to a 2PM flight, (an hour later). Since I think I had about an hour wait in Quito between arriving and checking for the international flight opening, this is not too bad. She returns to her desk, and the original attendant fills in some forms, then looks worried and calls her back. Because it is still only 11:30 and the flight isn’t until 2, the check in is not open yet, and I need to go away until around 1pm.

There are a few shops in the main hall, including a “Souvenirs Artasinas”, so I am able to get a doll in national costume that I wanted for Harriet, but hadn’t managed to get in Guayaquil. There are also two food concessions, a KFC and a China Wok. Looking at the pictures on the China Wok board, I am not confident I can actually recognise any of the dishes, and I don’t think my phrase book expects you to be ordering Chinese food in Spanish, so I settle for KFC as at least I know what I’m getting. (Or do I? as this is Ecuador, maybe it is Kentucky Fried Cuy (Guinea Pig)?)

Once check-ins open at 1, I am able to check in and everything goes smoothly. Diego is waiting at Quito airport – I’m not sure when he found out I was on a later plane, and we proceed directly from national arrivals to international departures while he explains to me how I need to pay the departure tax and take the receipt to check-in. This is because both the “tax desk” and the check in desk are in a separate hall, and Diego leaves me at the door. However everything proceeds smoothly and after yet more last minute souvenir shopping, getting rid of all my loose change, it is time to board the plane.

People on board who are flying from Madrid to Guayaquil are given blue “Transit” cards, and join us in departures, having been made to get off the plane. They are the first to re-board, followed by the rest of us, and before long I am back in Guayaquil again – It is strange that it has taken me all afternoon to get from one end of the Airport to the other. Strangely, given that they emptied the plane at Quito, we all have to get off and take our hand luggage with us. This of course, means going through another security scan. We are given the “Transit” cards this time and so are first back on to the plane. It is suggested that the reason we had to get off because the plane is being refuelled, but it is still being refuelled when we get back on as we are instructed not to fasten our seatbelts. There are a couple a few rows behind me who did not hear, or understand the instruction to take their hand luggage, so when they get back on, they discover their bag is missing. The stewardesses track it down, it was removed and is in the gangway outside, so is soon retrieved for them, but not their copy of the Zweitung German Newspaper.

Arriving in Spain I again have to change terminals. This involves a ride on the underground train and passing through yet another x-ray/security check – the 4th since boarding the original flight in Guayaquil – It’s good to be so safe!

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