Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Colombia Update: I'm Alive

And in the Hotel Casa Dann Carlton on Calle 94. Got in at around midnight last night - had to deplane after boarding in Houston because of faulty brakes - one of those times you're happy to get the f off and walk across the airport to a new gate. Seriously, the announcement went something like this 15 minutes after boarding: "Hi, this is the captain speaking, we're currently experiencing an issue with our brakes, they're not completely working, and we have a team below the aircraft working on the issue. I'll get back to you with details once I know if we'll be on our way or have to get a different plane." And even more seriously, when he announced 8 minutes later that we'd be deboarding and going to another gate to a plane without problems, everyone within shouting distance from me was complaining, huffing and puffing and really pissed. Sure, it sucks, but what's crazy was that they didn't seem nearly as (visibly) upset when the first announcement was made. If the captain got on and said, "Great news. These brakes should hold up at least til we land in 4 and a half hours. So let's leave 15 minutes late rather than 50!", would there have been cheers? This may be a good time to recap my travel issues over the last 3 weeks, not that you care, but because you may be surprised that I've remained so calm throughout (or you won't, but I am and I want to brag, and yes, you just have to take my word for it)...
Brazil: Arrive at Caesar Business 2 hours late (9AM) only to be told that there is no room for me yet. They think it should open in an hour or so. Can I use your business center? Sure, internet cards are "x" reias. You're kidding. Give me one for the hassle. No, okay, I'll go take a walk in my jeans and sweater and carry my laptop because I don't trust you.
Chile: Arrive at Hotel Intercontinental at 11PM. Sorry, we don't have your reservation. Why, it was made with these people from Nestle. We have theirs, just not yours... and we're completely booked. It was made with this person by the same person. Call your manager. Okay, we can get you a room tonight, but not yet. Go to the bar and wait. 1AM, your room is ready, but you have to check out tomorrow, we are full. Check into other hotel mid-afternoon the next day.
Argentina: Can I have a late checkout my flight's not til 10PM? Sure, it will be $100. You're not full, can I just stay til 4 or 5 or so. Yes, for $100. But a night is only $150... okay, just hold my bags while I walk around the city sweating and getting blisters (my sneaks are packed) for 6 hours and then overcharge me for the cab to the airport. Thanks.
Mexico: Minneapolis to Houston - sorry running a little late because there's a problem with the pressure on the plane. Actually, new plane, new gate, but not too late. No big deal... yet. I only have 1 hour to get off the plane in Houston and get on the plane to Mexico though. 45 minutes from land time, 35 from deplane, told I won't make it, sprint across airport, on tram, sprint more, make it just in time. Way back, Mexico gate changed 3 times. Had a full row to myself though, until a dude not only sat in the aisle seat, but put his large carry-on under the middle seat in front of us. Thanks Dick. (Dick was not his name, but that's what I'm calling him - capital D.)
Colombia: Minneapolis to Houston - no problem!!! Houston, you know the drill. Got into Bogota at 11PM, supposed to have a car. Not there. Phone - not working. Took a taxi, which was fine, but was a little nervous since I was told that our Citibank team never rolls around without security and in an armored car.
So anyway, now I’m here. After a day of 3 groups, starting at 8AM and ending at 9PM. Hopefully will have a chance to see the city tomorrow. Then get on a 9AM plane Thursday morning, supposed to get back to MN at 5PM. I’ll take the over on that bet. Looking like a promising or even "cant-miss"miss in Houston with only 1 hour to get across the airport and through customs. Either way, as I said, it’s all good… I’m chill. Though that word makes me a little annoyed. Relax.

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