Yesterday we biked down Cotopaxi. Despite a bit of rain – including some sleet while we were at the top of our ride, just shy of 15,000 feet, it was a lot of fun with extraordinary scenery and would have made an outstanding end to our trip.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. We arrived back in Quito and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare…around 4:00, a good 3 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. It was raining, which had never really occurred to me as a problem and I enjoyed watching the planes take off streaming water behind.
When our plane arrived, there was immediately something off. Several vehicles with flashing lights came out, and I saw some grab something that looked like an air tank – I later figured out it was an acetylene tank for welding…they were making some kind of adjustment to the front landing gear. Whatever it was, it didn’t work. We sat and sat, and waited. The word was that we couldn’t take off because the runway was too wet, despite the other planes doing precisely that.
At one point, the airport did close entirely, for about 30 or 40 minutes. As far as I can tell, though, ours was the only flight that didn’t leave at all. Finally at 10pm, they collected passengers connecting to Toronto, and attempted to make alternate arrangements. Although Air Canada can book Avianca flights they are not formally partners, and Avianca was entirely clueless about what to do. They did speak to Air Canada in Bogota, but all they did was refer everyone to an 800 number that was only open during the day. Eventually, the Avianca employee who was “helping” us wandered off, never to be seen again.
Us and the two other Canadians with the same connection headed back to a hotel…getting ripped off by cab drivers in the process – us for $10, the other couple for $20. But at that time of night, there’s not much to be done…there weren’t many cabs around.
I spent most of the morning on the phone with Air Canada, and they’ve rebooked us (charging for the process, because it was an Avianca problem, but Avianca was basically unable or unwilling to help us…we will be seeking a refund for that when we return.) So now we’ll be arriving back in Edmonton on Wednesday night, after some long layovers – 12 hours in Bogota (I asked for that because I did not want a similar situation to crop up again), and 13 hours in Toronto…which I didn’t ask for, and am a bit of a loss how there can be no earlier flights we could be on.
So we’ll be home late Wednesday. Not what we’d planned, and unfortunately not enough time to leave Quito, which we’re pretty sick of. Normally, I don’t look forward to a trip ending, but this time, I’m definately ready to go home.