Anyone who travels as much as I’ve been doing has some bad days. Even some really bad days. Seems to me those days often involve flights. When people ask me why my trips are so long, I usually reply that I find flying such a pain these days I need to get in a lot of travel per flight. I hope the next eight weeks will make up for the twenty-seven hours it took to get from my house to my hotel.
Things started out well. I don’t remember now why I signed up for an eight hour layover in Miami, but I imagine the alternatives were either worse or noticeably more expensive. Having done so, I decided to spend some of the savings on a day pass for the Admirals Club, and I waited for my RDU-MIA flight in lonely state. That flight, although packed, was only slightly late, and I was in no hurry. Terminal D at MIA has two Admirals Clubs and I visited both. I can advise future travelers to go for the one at gate D30 – it’s bigger and roomier, and therefore quieter, than the one at gate D15.
Although I took full advantage of the Admirals Club’s comfortable chairs, so-so food and wine, and free wi-fi (I could have listened to the Presidential debate but I chose a podcast on South America instead), I was more than ready to board my 11:20 flight when I went down to the gate. Only there was no plane.
We finally boarded maybe an hour late. Then we sat at the gate waiting for the service log to be delivered and for a mechanic to fix a problem with an overhead compartment (he got a round of applause when he handled the problem in less than a minute). As we approached the take-off point it looked like we would leave “just” two hours late. No such luck.
The captain announced that he had an indicator light on. We would have to return to the gate and call in another mechanic. Now I wasn’t happy about the further delay, but I was flabbergasted by the behavior of some of my fellow passengers. A whole group retrieved their (large) carryons and headed for the front of the plane. I’m not sure how they expected to disembark without a jetway, but they were stopped by an announcement that they might have to wait days for another flight, and there would be no hotel vouchers. I was indebted to my seat mate for that information, as the announcement was only in Portuguese (this made more sense later, at Brazilian immigration, when almost the entire flight turned out to be citizens).
We eventually took off three hours and fifteen minutes late, at 2:35 Miami time. We ate dinner at 3:30 am. I surprised myself by getting some actual sleep, although in fits and starts, and we made up some of the time, landing just a couple of hours late. I suppose that any time I arrive in the correct city, on the correct day, along with my checked bag, I should be pleased, but I was too tired.
Then, before locating the bus to town, I had to go on a treasure hunt. One would think that in an international airport, the ATMs would be on the arrivals level. Perhaps the bureaux de change had something to say about that. There was no one at the Tourist Information desk, and no ATMs. There were none on the departure level, although there was a helpful person at a T.I. desk. I finally found a line of ATMs belonging to three different banks next to the food court on the top level. The HSBC one didn’t work. The Santander one didn’t work. Happily, the third one I tried did work, with both my Capital One and Credit Union cards, and disgorged enough cash to pay my hotel bill. Persistence pays.
Although I’ve been writing “my hotel”, the Edificio Jucati is really an apartment building. Although my apartment is spartan almost to the point of bleak, it includes a fridge, a stove, a TV, a telephone, AC, and free wifi, plus the first shower I’ve encountered with a remote control! It’s also rather more of a trek from Av. Atlantica than I had thought from the maps. Maybe I’ll spring for a taxi on Sunday when I go back to the airport.
After I finally checked in at 2:30 local time, the first thing I did was shower. Then I had to wait around, twice, for someone to come fix my safe. By the time I headed out in search of lunch and the beach, eating was urgent and my mood could have been better.