Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back To South America With a Fiery Start; LITERALLY

After a great 3 weeks at home - in "The OC" - to visit family and friends for the Christmas holidays, I got on a plane to head back to South America.  I was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with one layover in Atlanta, Georgia, and then another in Lima, Peru.  Hahaha, little did I know that this is not what my itinerary was going to be.

Everything started out normal.  I got on my first plane in LA, which departed only 30 minutes late - pretty good for the Los Angeles Airport - and landed in Atlanta just as planned.  I had a 1-hour layover and my second plane departed as scheduled.  Things where looking pretty good so far.

However, I think my "unconscious-self" decided that I had to start my trip out with good story because this is the point when things started to take an interesting turn.  I say "unconscious-self" because I think those crazy people who think they can control their own destiny may be on to something.  There are tons of self-help books about using "positive thinking" or "feelings" or whatever - you get the point - to attain all the things people want in life; which can probably be summed up for 95% of the American population as money, love and health.  For some reason, Americans rarely seem to include or encourage travel or adventure in the category of "things that will lead to happiness."  (Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, lol... of course you are the exceptions to this generalization!)  Anyway, back to the point at hand: "positive thinking, feeling, or whatever" books to attain what you want in life.  I think I've come to the conclusion that maybe these crazy people are on to something because, every time my travels seem like they are going in a calm and collected manner, something comes up to make everything just a little more interesting.

For instance, about 30-minutes after my plane got into the air from Atlanta, I started to notice a faint smell of smoke.  Hmm, smoke on an airplane - I could be wrong, but that probably isn't a good sign.  Soon afterward I smelled the smoke, the pilot came on the intercom and very calmly informed the passengers that we would be emergency landing at the Orlando airport in Florida because of some "mechanical issues."  Surprisingly, given the fact that you could smell smoke while on an airplane, all crew members and passengers acted as if everything was completely normal.

As soon as we landed in Orlando, about 3 fire engines came screaming up to the plane.  Interesting: I smell smoke, we just emergency landed, and fire engines are racing to the plane.  I wonder what in the world could be happening... Yes, my plane was ON FIRE!  Obviously, since I am writing this blog to tell the story, everything turned out to be fine.

Eventually, everyone got off the plane and we were told that we would be boarding a new plane in 4 hours.  I know what you're thinking - 4 more hours waiting in an airport.  But, it wasn't that bad because the airline gave everyone meal vouchures that were good for anywhere we wanted to eat in the airport.  SWEET, free food!  

And on to the next disaster...

After 4 hours in the airport - and an uncomfortably full belly from a gigantic dinner at Outback Steakhouse - I boarded my 3rd plane of the day.  (Haha, yes I'm still a vegetarian, and no, I did not eat a steak at Outback if that's what you are thinking).  So, it was looking as though I was going to land in Peru around 7:00am and still have about 5 hours before my connecting to Bolivia.  Unfortunately, an hour later, the plane was still sitting at the gate in Orlando.  The pilot finally came on the intercom and informed everyone that there was a leak on the plane that maintenance was not able to fix and that we would be getting off of the plane and getting on a new plane the next day.  We were also informed that everyone was going to be issued hotel vouchers.  However, it took the airline personnel 3.5 hours to do all the paperwork and give everyone the vouchers, so I wasn't able to check into my hotel room until almost 4:00am.

And on to day-2 of "trying to get to South America"...

At 12:00pm the next day I got on another plane bound for Lima, Peru.  The plane took off and stayed in the air.  There were no mechanical issues and I finally landed in Lima around 9:00pm - YAY!!!  I finally made it to South America.  However, since my flight to Lima arrived about 1.5 days late, I missed my connection to Bolivia.

Haha, the "Getting to Bolivia" story is to be continued...

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