The best planned trips can hit a snag sometimes that creates a major headache for the traveler. That’s happened to me on several international trips. Sometimes it’s been my fault–like that time in India I could not locate my passport and had to unpack my entire suitcase at the ticket counter to find it–and other times I’ve been able to put the blame elsewhere.
After nearly three weeks of smooth travel, our flight to Johannesburg, South Africa was late and we missed our connecting flight to Cape Town. The airline’s next flight out would be 12 hours later, and we only had one day to spend in Cape Town to begin with. We missed checking in for the connecting flight by two minutes, and though the jet was still at the gate, there was no way to get our suitcases onboard. Still, it seemed an arbitrary decision by the airline, and I was angry and stressed.
The situation was further complicated because we had booked this portion of the trip ourselves as separate legs with several different airlines. Now, standing at the ticket counter, we had only minutes to decide what to do before the airline’s agent left for the night, and none of our options looked good.
So we paid the required fees for a change of flight plans, but left to find another airline’s ticket counter and hope for an earlier flight. The first agent we spoke to looked completely disinterested and told us no, but another had mercy on these two ragged travelers and we were allowed to purchase tickets on South African Airways. It was not in our budget, but we did it anyway, forfeiting the flight change fees we had just paid at the other airline.
In the end, it all worked out. The flight on South African Airways was excellent in terms of comfort and service. We enjoyed a great day in Cape Town, and it was well worth the extra trouble and cost it took to get there.
A brief overnight stop in Brazil didn’t end so well. After a long 15 hour flight day and arriving in Sao Paulo, the Immigration Service there would not allow us to have our luggage or clean clothes without a visa for $150 each. Our flight arrangements for Peru had gotten a bit fouled up, too. There was a lost-then-found-six-hours-later bag. There was that one sketchy hotel with no elevator and a 3rd floor room.
But I’m writing this now in Aguas Caliente, Peru, our basecamp for tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu. And I have luggage. I’m jet-lagged and feeling the effects of high altitude, a little tired and grumpy, yet otherwise happy and healthy. There may be an extra white hair on my head when I return home, but all in all, I have a sense of blessing greater than before my trip began. I mean, who wouldn’t feel blessed riding a train through the Andes mountains, eating freshly caught trout from a local stream, and preparing to see one of the great historical wonders of the world? That’s been my day today.
PS: I have photos to share of these past two days in Peru, but WiFi is hardly working in my hotel tonight. Sigh. Photos later!