Day 35: Welcome to Guayaquil!

Mon. 17th September 2012

High speed ferry to Isla Mujeres - In RyanAir colours!We didn’t want to go to Guayaquil , we hadn’t booked to go to Guayaquil, we weren’t expecting to go to Guayaquil. It just happened. It was one of those days.

We have taken advantage of good Internet access and Skype to talk with both Chris & Stephen over the last few days. It was great to talk with them and to hear a bit of their news. However, today, Skype really saved our bacon – or so we thought!

Today was transfer day to Quito (Ecuador), and we had a fairly simple plan – lazy morning wandering around Isla Mujeres, lunchtime ferry and bus to the airport and then flight to Quito via Miami in the afternoon and evening.

Then, late yesterday (Sunday) evening we got an email from American Airlines advising of a delay in the flight to Miami. This would mean that we would probably miss our connection to Quito, although they did not say so. Whilst the Miami to Quito flight was also with American Airlines and was a ‘guaranteed connection’, we still didn’t really want to spend a night in Miami even if it was at AA’s expense.

In the morning we (well, Janet) had the brainwave of “why don’t we see if there is an earlier flight to Miami”. This is where Skype really helped. Once we had found a cafe that had both coffee and WiFi (our hotel definitely failed on the latter and only with a big stretch of the imagination could you say that they provided the former), I put in a Skype call to American Airlines (actually the UK reservation line – for the giddy sum of 7p per minute) . Yes there was an earlier flight (11:20am rather than 2pm) and yes we could change to it.

Then it was full on rush – back to the hotel; pack bags and check out; hail taxi; return to hotel room to get hat that I had left there; back to taxi and on to ferry back to the mainland; and finally taxi to the airport. In the end it was all simple and we even had time for a vanilla cappuccino at the Starbucks outlet at the airport (just as well there was a Starbucks as AA did not have a lounge at Cancun).

It did mean that we got to Miami very early and had about 6 hours to wait before our Quito flight. We were glad to have access to the AA lounge for food, drink, and Internet access – otherwise there is precious little to do at Miami airport. The airport is absolutely vast. We were in Terminal D which could well be 2 miles end to end (we never got close to finding out). Despite its size, there are no shops of any interest/use there – I tried in vain to get some new button batteries for my Kindle reading light – and precious little to do.

Still we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, as we tracked the flight we were originally booked on from Cancun it got later and later and we got more pleased with ourselves when our Quito flight boarded on time. We were looking forward to landing at about 11pm, so should be tucked up in bed by midnight. We should have known better…

  • Firstly, there was a fault with the plane that they didn’t know how to fix, so we had an hour and a half sitting on the plane going nowhere.
  • Then, on approach to Quito, the pilot decided to abort ‘due to poor visibility’ and go round again.
  • Halfway through that manoeuvre, the pilot then announced that we were too low on fuel and so would have to divert to Guayaquil – which was about 3omins away.

All of this meant that it was 3:30am by the time that we finally landed in Quito. We were very relieved that not only had we booked to be met at the airport but that our guide was still there to meet us. Apparently, with Quito being at 2,800m altitude and surrounded by hills (volcanoes) it is quite a tricky landing approach and it is not uncommon for this to happen.

Entrance to Casa Aliso - Our hotel in QuitoAfter a short transfer (the current Quito airport is in the middle of the city, the new airport when it eventually opens will be an hours drive away) we made it to our hotel and to bed. Exhausted but happy that we had made it to Quito. Tomorrow is a 9:30am start and a tour of the city – at least we were in the same time zone as we had been in in Cancun and so did not have any jet lag to contend with.

 

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