I had purchased my Copa Airlines tickets after realizing that American Airlines was leaving the gate about 20 minutes before any flight I could find arrived. My mistake. I was excited about planning my trip and I pulled the trigger way too fast on a cheap fare...a fare that now will sit in the AA vault somewhere.
After consoling myself with an El Presidente Diplomat sipping rum, I went back at google.com/flights to figure out a new way to get out of the USA and down to Ecuador on a one way fare. I don't have to come back until my daughter's graduation on the weekend of the 12th-14th of June.
So, I knew I was going to be gone for at least 3 months. And, at the time, all I knew was that I was going to go to Ecuador...which I had researched and googled the hell out of.
Flying into Guayaquil versus Quito saves a ton of dinero.
Figuring that out, I then started planning an itinerary for the month of March 2021.
An itinerary that, due to Covid, has changed 3 times. I finally nailed down my Copa tickets and started making reservations for hotels. I'm a big believer that the earlier you reserve a place, the better the deal and the more assured you are of getting a popular (i.e.: cheap but good) hotel.
Finally, after 3 months of planning and anticipation and more effort than I care to admit, it was time to Uber to the Sacramento "International" airport (another topic).
As I mentioned in the previous post, Delta was amazing. But there wasn't a damn food vendor in all of SMF. Only those shitty two week ago prepared $14 "sandwiches" and $7 sodas available. Not to mention the $12 square of TCHO. I passed on the first two, but the TCHO is a religious experience not to be missed or be condemned to eternity in hell.
When I got to LAX, there was no terminal...none. We had to take a 15 minute bus ride to the International "Tom Brady" terminal (another in a long line of LA schmuck mayors who destroyed anything good about LA). The flight was 4 hours delayed and that was a positive prognostication. And sitting in another stale industrialized terminal holds no joy for anyone. Everywhere you looked you could see gray and black bodies folded in inhuman ways trying to get comfortable and REM sleep.
Our flight was finally called. I was looking forward to business class (which is a must for ALL international travel because otherwise it's 10-12 hours with a snoring or farting row buddy). And COPA has seats to become doctor's examining tables without the stirrups.
Hoping to get on the plane and pass out, first, like behooves one who pays an extra $500 each way, the shock of waiting for the entire plane of tired and pissed off cattle to board was very painful. It meant another 30 minutes of waiting for amateurs who have no clue how to get into their row FIRST before unloaded all their gear for the flight and THEN putting up their bags (usually too big an too many -- despite the rules) into the too small and fragile bins above their heads.
When it was finally time for row numero uno to board, I don't know how I hoisted my 60 pound behemoth of a backpack into the creaking bin. But, I managed. As I took my window seat (which meant getting up every two hours to piss off my row-mate) I tried to recline...but too soon for the rule mongers....and waited for the plane to level off. immediately, I downed an RX medication to bring on the ZZZ's and fell asleep.
Instead of waking up, as old men do, needing to pee every two hours, the flight steward wakes everyone up to remind them to put on their seat belt as turbulence is coming.
I had mine on already because she had warned me three times to do so!
Nodding back off, 30 minutes later was a "Are you hungry prod". Followed an hour later by a "you're snooring" can you tone it down! (WTF? Who doesn't snore in a tube full of recycled air!).
Thankfully, they woke us up 2 hours before the plane landed because....why? I still don't know. These people are really torturers.
Upon getting to PTY, we had another 2 hour wait before the 2 hour flight to GYE.
PTY is the worst. Just the dirtiest and lowest place in the airport jungle. Aweful food choices, sleepy guards and even more tired airline personnel. It's obvious that no one wants to be there! No one. So of course, you're joyous to finally leave the airport.
The flight to GYE was gorgeous. The jungles of Colombia are like no other on the western side of the Panama canal divide. Just brown rivers snaking through greenery.
When we finally arrived near GYE, the clouds split open to show beautiful farmland or artisanal coffee and cocao plantations or fincas. As we got closer to GYE, the farms got bigger and bigger and more and more were filled with water indicating that they were Rice Fields. Gliding into GYE, I noticed how it resembled Cartagena or the coastal approaches of Barranquilla...lots of tin homes and cardboard houses right on the river.
You don't know poor until you have a muddy street view (if you can call them streets) of how these people endure their lives in homes that can't keep out the cold, the heat, the rain, the rising water, the rats, the tragedy of being poor in this world.
So, that's how I began my arrival for what would be my first afternoon as a digital nomad employee.