Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The art of arrival, or lack there of

Hola a todos!

I arrived safely in La Paz, Bolivia about two and a half weeks ago after a grueling two day ordeal with the airports. As you may remember, I slept in the front foyer of LAX for a few cold and restless hours before I was able to check in to my flight. Once past the gate my adventure had commenced. After an uneventful first leg of the journey, I arrived in Mexico City where I passed through fully Spanish speaking customs and had to check in and wait numerous hours before my flight to Lima. Once on that plane, I sat and waited with all the passengers and watched as minutes became longer and longer and the stuffiness and humidity o the cabin increased. After about an hour or so, the flight was fully cancelled and we all had to leave the plane. This is where a bit of panic for everyone set in. The flight was composed almost exclusively of Spanish speakers except for about 6 people, including myself. While not completely devoid of Spanish study, I had been without for two years and understanding hurried announcements was not within my capability. For the next series of hours I waited nearby in desperation that I could follow the crowds to wherever we were sent for morsels of information. The day crept on and eventually in a stroke of luck I figured out where the group was sent for dinner and information. Of course the stipend for the meal and the cost of the meal differed greatly and I had to spend a few of my treasured US bills on my meal, but at least fed and slightly more hopeful, or rather in the company of other disheartened people, I knew whatever information would come our way would be something I would be privy to as well. And lo and behold, we were being taxied to a hotel to spend the night (the time was now about 10:30 pm and my original flight from Mexico City about 4 pm). Once at the hotel I showered (oh the restorative effects of a hot shower!) and went to bed. We were due to be brought back to the airport early the next day to have tickets sorted.

The next morning was a whole other batch of mess, but after a slowly moving line with way too many people cutting to ask questions (I imagine the line would have slowly paced forward if all those pushy people had been made to wait) I had a ticket in hand moments before my flight and was boarding the plane soon after. And onward to Lima we went.

Once at Lima, I had about a 9 hour wait before my flight to La Paz. Fortunately we were able to wait in a lobby so I started my Spanish reading, consumed far too much starchy snacks and napped on the floor. By 1:50 am my flight to La Paz was ready to depart. And this leg went smoothly. At about 5:30 am I arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, hardly awake and exhausted. Clearing customs was not too difficult, except I learned they are super picky about the condition and series numbers of the bills they accept for their visas so one after another I had to pull out different bills after being told my $100 was the wrong series and my $20 bills with a slight tear unacceptable. Thank goodness I brought more than the bare essential.

Cleared through customs, and $135 lighter in my wallet, I was ready to taxii to my first destination. The taxi driver overcharged me by almost double and had to stop to ask for directions two times, but I did arrive to my place. And after trekking up a long flight of stairs, huffing a bit due to the elevation, I was invited inside, had a cup of tea and passed out on my bed.

This was two and a half weeks ago. I shall update you on more of my journey soon. As I watch the people in my Sucre, Bolivia hostel type and study on their minicomputers I find myself wishing I had brought mine, but alas, there was a day before all this technology (I'm sure I will lament about this numerous times).

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