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We're here in Grants Pass--Por Fin!!! (finally)


To set the scene for this entry, picture us spending the night in Miami on the second day of a one day flight to Portland, Oregon. Delta put us up at the Miami Airport Sheraton in a pretty fancy room, and they don't do this if you haven't had significant problems already...


Our original plan was to take Delta from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Atlanta, and then catch a direct flight to Portland 2.5 hours later—piece of cake, you say...well, we thought so, too!


Here's what really happened—and don't forget, that we were ticketed straight through with Coquita riding in the cabin with us...


We arrive at Guayaquil AP, after a very nice ride by Jorge, our very careful and safe driver. We check in with Delta, and everything is fine, except they now require a “new” certificate for your dog—one which our vet knew nothing about...


We are about three hours away from take off, so we don't panic too much, as I watch Coquita, and Rox runs-walks about a mile to a dinky office manned by a man with a typewriter. He listens to Roxanne's request for this new doc, and tells her that she might be able to get it in about a month. Of course, she had a very negative reaction to this news and tells him that she needs it right now!!! He has never done one of these before, so he brings up the template on the computer, fills it in, gets it signed and affixed with a fancy holographic, silver seal.. The cost $14.00.. So far, so good...


We take all of our luggage, plus the new doc for Coquita, to Delta check-in...they check our docs, and take our two bags—we had decided to check one of our larger carry on bags, just to give us more hands to take care of Coquita, and, besides, what could go wrong with such a nice flight with Delta in charge of all legs of the trip...(that assumption was our first mistake)...


As our 11:58 pm take off time approaches, we are all informed that the plane will be delayed two hours. Not a big deal...stuff like this happens a lot, so we settle down to wait a little more.


After we have had a cup of coffee, I wander over to the boarding security guy and ask for an update, and he utters only one word cancelado (which is the past tense for “cancel”). It seems that the pilot, who got the plane here on time, is now sick, and there is no other available pilot.


So now, there are about 200 people standing around the Delta desk, asking all sorts of questions, and some making some demands, but most of all just sort of stunned.


I get on over to the young man who was very helpful getting our bags checked and Coquita tagged correctly, and ask what is the plan...


He tells me that there will be another flight in the morning, and if we just leave our bags checked, we will be sure to get a seat on that flight—plus, they will also give us a hotel room. There is scuttle-butt that Delta is sending down a new flight crew to take the plane and us back to Atlanta. We are told that we should be back to the AP at about noon, for a 2:00 flight (approx.)...


We finally get to our room in the Grand Hotel Guayaquil, sleep badly, and eat an OK buffet. We are lounging around our room, when I call Delta in Atlanta about 9:30, just to see what is what. Well, what is what, is that the nice lady at Delta HQ tells us that we are booked on American Airlines for a flight that leaves 10:05 (that's right!  35 minutes from now!).


Ok, so now it is panic city, we run around like crazy, get out junk packed, grab Coquita, and head down to get a shuttle to the AP. Well, the guys running the shuttle don't comprehend the urgency, so we off load from the shuttle, and pay a cab five bucks to get us from downtown out the AP. We arrive at 10:00 straight up, run to the American counter, and are told that there is a 2 hour delay...


Turns out that we need every second of that delay...


One of the supervisors at the American check in counter decides that the nice all leather, soft-side crate that we borrowed from Shell and Marsha (and which has been all over the world), is now too large for their “puny” American airliner. She is hefting the tape measure, and proclaiming that the crate is one half inch too large, and we can not bring Coquita! Rox has a fit and tells the lady that this crate has been on all kinds of planes and fits in just fine—but she wouldn't budge, so Rox comes and gets me, we switch holding Coquita, and I tromp over to do battle. And, of course, I say the same stuff Rox did.


We are saved by a spunky, young lady at the counter, who grabs the empty crate, and runs off to the waiting airplane, and actually slides it under a seat to check, and it fits just fine! So, now we can go, but we have wasted about an hour.


They ask us about our bags, and we tell them that Delta has them. It turns out that a bunch of folks got their bags back the night before, but we didn't, because we were following orders...


So...I start hurrying around to find our bags, which are not on the plane anymore. I go down, around, up and down, and along a long, long hall, to a little Delta office, and find a really nice young lady, who will help me. So, we retrace all the steps and elevator rides that I have just taken to wherever the bags are kept.


She says that she will find our bags, and she takes our claim tickets and goes off to search. About 20 minutes later, I find her, and she tells me that she found the bags, but that some “official” must look them over, as they stayed overnight at the AP, and I guess were out of our control, or something like that.


So...I tell her that I will wait for her at the coffee shop where Rox and Coquita are waiting...


Then... a frantic young lady from American runs up to us to tell us that we have to go right now, or we will miss our plane...and again, we are grabbing all of our stuff, and run-walking about a mile to the correct boarding area.


We also have to go through the Visa/Customs check by Ecuador. There is a really nice customs officer, and the only hold up is that he is pretty slow. He has to check our permanent visas against the computer, stamp the passports, etc.


After we exit the customs, we follow a winding path through the duty free area, all aimed at getting you to buy really expensive stuff... We also note that there is nobody ahead of us!


We finally get to the plane, are cordially greeted by the flight crew, and told to find our seats quickly, 'cause “push-back” is in five minutes. We turn right and are greeted by a sea of faces all looking at us. This is one full airplane! We are separated by several seats, and are thrilled when a man and his little girl, trade some seats, so we can sit near each other.


Now through all of this, Coquita is in her crate, and she hasn't spent that much time in it before, but she was just perfect. She has had a half pill to make her a little woozy, but, it has nowhere near had time to take effect yet. (more on those pills later)


Because the American flight was late, we missed our flight to Minneapolis (and on to Portland). But we figured that getting to Miami was better than another night in Guayaquil. It's a long flight to Miami, and we are tired when we get there. The American flight crew did everything right.


When you off-load at the American area in Miami AP, and then want to walk to the Delta counter, it is easily a mile away. So off we went to see if they would put us up, since there were no more flights going to Portland that night.


We were treated wonderfully by a Delta supervisor at the counter. He looked up our history of missed flights, and said “we have to get these folks some accommodations”. Our room on the top floor of the Miami Sheraton was wonderful. Except, we would have rather been home,  as scheduled, and certainly would have loved to have had our luggage. I guess we set a record by having our luggage lost before we ever started our trip...


We were scheduled out on Delta's 6:00 am flight to Atlanta. The supervisor, from the night before, had also printed us up boarding passes and printed up tickets for Coquita all the way through. It was still early when that 4:00am call came in. Again, the plane was totally full, but we were able to switch seats with a nice young lady.


Delta also let me hold Coquita's crate all the way to Portland. She and we, like it a lot better than having her shoved under the seat in front of us.


The flight, diagonally across the USA, was just beautiful. We saw huge clouds to the North, but it was clear air for us forever. It was a treat to see all of middle-America from 36,000 feet. There are one huge number of farms out there! The Rockies were snow-capped and beautiful!  The flight crew of both of our Delta flights was first rate.  The airplane was a smooth as silk ride, and the cabin crew was really caring and responsive.


Our old friend Guy, was waiting for us as we exited. He gets a gold star for waiting in Portland an extra day, with almost no word, because our phones just didn't connect. We had a wonderful Sunday drive through Oregon to Grants Pass.


On a really positive note: We were treated just wonderfully by every customs person from each country, and the TSA people were first-rate. Everybody liked Coquita and gave her nose a little scratch as she looked through her screen.


After all the docs we got, US customs only wanted to see her current rabies shot record, they looked it over, and said “Welcome Home!”






We are going to do a series of entries about our impressions after being gone for four years. Probably call it something like: “Sticker-shock and Culture Shock”...





Posted on Tue, June 28, 2011 at 08:50AM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

OMG! The start of the adventure is an adventure in itself...I really admire your patience and perseverance and positive attitudes...and Coquita is a great ambassador!
Bien Viaje!

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatty & Michael

You can't make stories like this up! One more round like that and you'll got the beginning script for a novella. Glad all are in Oregon well and I presume from lack of mentiOn that your luggage made it. Have a good trip and a safe (as well as more uneventful) return.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoger & Yazell

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