The here I am again, heading to South America, 2 years since I last blogged, 3 years since I started my year of adventures and 4 years since the travel bug got me. What’s changed? Well still single (not for the want of trying, more for the problem of falling for those already married and/or who have me firmly on the ‘friend zone’!!), but I have a new job which I enjoy half of the week (when I’m not stuck in Dartford tunnel traffic or being called a miserable trout by hormonal teenagers) and new weird lodgers smelling out my house but paying for my adventures. Other than that not much.
But here we are about to embark on another trip of a lifetime before I hit the dreaded age of 40! Eek!!
I’m heading back to see the lovely orphans for a week, and have again brought extra luggage to include lots of items to donate. Only 47 kg to carry across London this time, but as with 3 years ago, I don’t like to do things the easy way and rather than pack slowly, Reston and checking all details are sorted I had a day of cricket before rushing to get the tube across the capital for an evening flight.
First stop Bolvia, well via a rather ridiculous 16 hour wait for my connecting flight in Bogota.
I’m not a Pokemon go player but did find it highly amusing when a man in the security line was chasing a Pokemon, but he did have a laugh with those of us who had noticed! And due to me keeping my metal belt on I managed to get more hands on action than I’ve had in years with a full body scan and pat down at security, not going to complain!! Travelling on a Colombian airline and so not sure why I was surprised to be sat next to a rather odd (although maybe just the different culture) columbian dude. Dread lock pony tail starting from the neck only, nose pierced like a bull and rather on the large side so he did encroach into my space at times! He also liked to have a good hand rave when certain songs came on to his playlist, and unfortunately for me did also have a strong odour!
We take off over an hour late, and the air con isn’t working for that hour. It’s 24 degrees in the UK at this point and I’m dressed for South American winter!!
My biggest annoyance other than Mr Raver was there was no English tea. I mean they have just left Heathrow so I’d expect them to have it? Nope, I got a lovely fruit tea instead. How disappointing and clearly a sign of things to come!! I am such a Brit when it comes to tea. Love a good old cuppa! Then for breakfast (I didn’t bother with the fruit tea) choice of eggs or cereal. Well again duped into English traditions, the cereal is not with milk but yoghurt! Kellogg’s cornflakes with strawberry yoghurt is nice but not what I expected!!
So Bogota and the what became a very familiar El Dorado airport at 4am. Straight off the plane and through security and they take your bloody drinks off you. Me and this other British couple did laugh at the fact we have come off a plane, where on earth do they think we’ve been to get dangerous items?
Quite a nice airport to be honest, half reclined chairs to relax in and look over the runway and distant mountains. A variety of shops and food outlets. I mean when you have 16 hours to kill you may as well explore so I did. It takes all of about 10 mins! Food outlets range from Burger King and dunkin donuts to cafes and bistros. My lack of Spanish once again comes back to bite me as I have no idea what I’m ordering but lucky I enjoy trialling different foods! More cereal with bloody yoghurt? And a vanilla Chai (now that is something I loved in Nepal so I did know what I was ordering to a point) I understood vanilla so I got it!!
I’d forgotten how short the South Americans are. At least I can see over the queues and do get some inquisitive glares as I look like I may be an Olympian with my Guinness World Record hockey jumper and athletic demeanour in the week before the Olympics start!! One can dream!
Slightly concerned that seeing as in the UK both columbian and Bolivian money wasn’t available I hoped the airport would be the saviour? But alas no, I couldn’t get any Bolivian money at the money exchange so a 3am arrival when I need to get a taxi to the B and B may be quite interesting?
After 14 hours of slight worry that maybe my flight didn’t actually exist! It popped up on the departures board, hooray. So trying out my Spanish again I ordered a chai to take to the gate but got my hot and cold mixed up so ended up with what is essentially a cold sweet tea! Never mind! Tried to have a last half hour sleep but bizarrely awoken by barking dogs, hoping it was a drugs heist I sat up to find no it’s actually that cats on leads are roaming around and pet dogs? How very unique and made me wonder how tired and hallucinated I may actually be!!
I’m in an emergency exit seat, extra leg room what a result. Although the fact I can’t speak Spanish worries the cabin lady. Hey ho! We are late for take off again, a baggage issue? My mind races as I think my luggage that’s been sat around for nearly a day may be the issue. What drugs have been smuggled in to it?? Anyhow a good flight, 2 Americans sat with me this time so no smelly, raving columbian to deal with and we get to Bolivia at a lovely 3am local time! 2 forms to fill out for immigration, I have to declare my vitamins and clothes just in case, get my first stamp into the new passport! Easily pleased me!! I’d be excited by European stamps again if it happened after Brexit! And through customs….yes you guessed it, I bloody get stopped and my bag searched! Fortunately nothing like that TV programme border force from Australia where they pull the bag apart, and just a quick check and I’m through. Now the real fun! I get some cash changed and head to he taxi rank. In my tiredness I accept the first offer and wander off with him, suitcases in the cab when 3 Bolivians come and start shouting at him for not being official? They may well have saved me or cost me more money as I try and haggle to the fare I researched in the UK but at 4am he kind of has the upper hand and I lose! Off we head, I’ve suddenly remembered South American driving! It has no real rules accept expect the unexpected!! 36 hours after leaving home, I’m here! Hooray