So, we wanted to keep this blog real - highlighting the good and not so good. Well, here might be our first post (and hopefully the first of very few posts) that shares a lower moment.
We had our flight to Rio booked - an hour flight to Lima with a 4 hour layover, followed by a 5 hour flight to Rio where we would land at 6 am in the morning. This would make it an overnight flight but hey - we were using compensation money from Avianca airlines when we were bumped from our flight to Peru in the first place, so it was well worth it to have an over night flight.
Our hotel in Cusco had a check-out time of 9 am (yikes that's early!!!) so we were up and at 'em that morning. As a family we decided to store our luggage at the hotel and wander the Plaza de Armas for a bit, then head to the airport by about 1 and hang out until our flight at 5 pm. Airports are fun right? We could play a few games, mosey around in the shops, grab snacks, etc. Remember, we were tired and just wanted to move on to something new so we were excited for Rio. For most parents, entertaining your children at the airport for 4 hours may seem like the worst decision possible, but truly, the girls are incredible travellers so this was not a major concern for us.
As mentioned in the last blog post, some of us were getting tired of South American food. The Plaza de Armas is the centre of Old Town, caters to travellers and offers opportunities to enjoy comforts from home (ie. McDonalds, KFC, Subway). We gave in after 6 weeks and had our first Starbucks. Yes - it tasted just like at home and yes, we thoroughly enjoyed it (although it would have been better if it was Tim's but beggars can't be choosers).
It began to rain so we headed back and went to the airport. When we first arrived in Cusco, we swept through the airport as Avery really wasn't feeling well and we were anxious to get to the hotel. As a result, we really didn't take in the full atmosphere of the place. So, returning for our outbound flight we realized there were only 6 boarding gates, 2 snack shacks and 2 stores beyond security - our idea of moseying around for an hour and grabbing a bite, wasn't really an option for biding our time. Again, the girls were great. We played games, wandered, sent them for snacks, read. All while Dave connected to wifi and made plans for the next part of our trip.
It was about at the 4 hour mark though when we began to realize something was amiss. After watching the departures board, we realized our flight hadn't been announced and probably should have been. The girls were starting to get antsy (and rightfully so). We began to gather our things and head to the gate. After all, the announcement would be made shortly, wouldn't it?
That's when we were approached by 2 other couples who told us that when they checked in, they were informed our flight was delayed by at least 2 hours. As we arrived SO early to check our luggage and get our boarding tickets, the airline wasn't even aware of the delay at that point. Argh! So, we all sat back down. Luckily, the girls were given activity packs and we all got snacks to tide us over.
We also realized that with this delay, we would miss our connecting flight from Lima to Rio. We were told that upon landing in Lima we would either go to Rio on a connecting flight by another airline (arranged by Avianca), or have a night in a hotel and then a flight later the next day. We were all hoping for the latter so we would have another night in a beautiful hotel bed.
It's funny what happens during times like this at an airport. Immediately, people begin talking with each other, building a sense of camaraderie. We met a lovely couple from Scotland who were treating themselves to a milestone anniversary gift by travelling the world in 7 weeks. They were doing a similar route to us only in the opposite direction. Being retired with grandkids, they immediately offered iPads and word searches to the girls. A lovely thought on their part, but exactly what we had already. The girls loved seeing pictures of their recent trip to Africa though.
About 2 hours later we boarded our flight to Lima - a grand total of 8 hours after arriving at the airport (as Meghan so helpfully pointed out). Oops! Clearly our poor parental decision, which we will absolutely take the blame for.
We arrived in Lima, having dreamed of a lovely night's sleep in a comfy hotel bed. Quickly that dream died when we were greeted by airline personnel to let us know that we would be boarding a flight immediately to Sao Paulo, Brazil and then catching another flight, on a different airline to Rio. A total of 3 flights (2 over night) in less than 7 hours!!! Oh well, at least we would get there although very unrested. Plus, we were escorted through security and the airport as our next flight was boarding.
The airline told us our bags would be automatically transferred to the new airline in Sao Paulo. This seemed suspect to Dave and I; however, when our bags didn't show up at the carousel this was again confirmed by the airline agent at the baggage claim. So off we went to check ourselves into the last of our 3 flights. First question: where are your bags? What?! After about 15 minutes, and with the help of an interpreter, we figured out our bags probably didn't transfer and we boarded our plane to Rio knowing we would be arriving without any of our luggage.
We were right. To the airline's credit though, they provided us each with a toiletries bag that had what we needed for the day and said our bags would arrive the following day (even though Sao Paulo is only an hour away). I know what you're thinking, everyone has been through this before. So have we, but this was the first time it had been all of our stuff, and when this is all your worldly possessions, it really stank. Oh, and so did we. We now had been wearing the same clothes for 3 days and if you know me - that's about my limit. Of course everything was compounded by a lack of sleep (about 2 hours if that) and the fact that Rio was 40 degrees, our hotel room wasn't ready and Carnaval had started so everything except a corner store and McDonald's was closed.
So, as we waited for our room to be ready we took the kids to the Aquarium. It was great! We also took in some Carnaval prep by watching floats proceed to the Sambadrome - a fantastic way for us to get excited about going later in our visit! We wandered back to the hotel in hopes of a shower and nap.
When we got there, there was a line up out the door. Dave had gone to help the bell boy find the girls' carry on back packs we had stored while I waited. When we finally got our key, we were told we had to wait until someone checked our room to see if it was ready. Keep in mind this was 2 hours after we were told to come back. It was ready. Up we went only to discover a room with no beds made (no big deal, we can make beds) but the bathroom was disgusting!!! Suffice it to say the bathroom looked like it had been involved in Carnaval shenanigans too - although at the very end of the night. With no sleep, no luggage and no shower for the last 3 days in 40 degree heat, the line had been crossed. I spoke up. Sternly. Oh yeah, and for those of you who know me well, you'll be pleased to know I didn't say sorry either. ;)
I felt like I was in a not-so-funny episode of Fawlty Towers. Dave thinks the hotel was under new management, which is probably the most likely answer. We only had the room for one night as we had decided to go to Rio a day earlier than originally planned and would be moving to our Home Away flat the next morning. The room got disinfected and we got a nap. For one night, it was fine.
What a way to start our time in Rio (insert eye roll here)! We were looking forward to something fresh and new. Maybe that's what we got though - a new perspective. After all, we got to where we needed to go, had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies (mmmm...McDonalds), an overnight bag to tide us through and a story to last a lifetime.
Oh and as for that fresh and new perspective, just wait...
Rio was just what we were looking for.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).