It really was an extraordinary experience. As if I have once again stepped onto the magical escalator that shepherds me only toward the next very best experience I could possibly have. Likely too subtle for some, yet so very deeply rich and rewarding for me.
Neil had planned for us to hole up at a hotel for most of the 8 hours of lay over that we were going to need to live through before catching our connecting flight to Guayaquil from Miami aeropuerta. But as is normal for daily life that plan just didn’t come to fruition. Instead, we were told our cc had declined so they had canceled our reservation – and seemingly neglected to inform us. (Our bank changed our cards due to their own scare over hackers and we hadn’t thought to update this reservation that Neil had made eons ago.) So here we are at 9am, Eastern time, 6am our circadian rhythm time, being told if we want to rebook a room (that we will have for 4 hours) it will cost $218. Without the least bit of hesitation Neil emphatically replied “No.”
Did I mention neither of us had ever been to Miami? Now there we were sitting outside in the 5 yards of space between the automatic entrance and the covered drop off spot. The good news was we were outside on a warmish Miami morning and not stranded in an airplane of recirculating air. With a few tense moments of wondering what to do, we settled on taking the Red Roof Inn Plus + shuttle back to the airport. We had splurged on first class tickets – another first for us (an investment toward bringing our cats to Ecuador, I’ll explain later.) With one of the many benefits of having that ticket with First Class or Priority or whatever code they stamp on it to say “this fool paid a lot of money for a seat on the plane” gained us access to the Admiral Club lounge at the Miami airport. So we turned that lemon into lemonade and headed for the club to sit out our 8 hours.
Side note: Folks on our shuttle to the airport remarked that they wished the hotel had given them some lotion as part of their overnight expenditure, like most hotels do with shampoo and such. Completely straight faced they remarked that to get lotion the Red Roof Inn Plus + would have needed to be a Red Roof Inn Plus + Plus. Hysterical!
For those of you who are intrepid airport lizards you are certainly aware of what lounge status means. It means an oasis in the midst of seeming airport, travel, relational chaos, that sweet expensive paper with the special code buys access to people who “care” that you are tired and want refreshment. Glorious, glorious paper!
While awaiting our Red Roof Inn Plus + shuttle I started researching the lounge access we would get with our special paper. There were three American qualified lounges at the Miami Airport. Two similar and one spectacular. What made it spectacular was the promise of a buffet full of a delicious variety of yummy edibles and an open bar with pretty much whatever you might want and as much as you might want of food and drink. We tried to start with spectacular but we were foiled by time. Spectacular didn’t open until 1p. Off we went to the almost spectacular Admiral Club. Honestly, if that was all I knew of lounges I would have felt in heaven. Same concept just not the spaciousness, free food and alcohol.
Neil wasn’t sure if it could really be true. I headed for the Premiere lounge just before it was to open. For whatever reason it took them longer to open it. It was worth the wait. I texted Neil that it was as advertised and he scooted over and ate his big heart out.
I think for a major trip like we were taking – moving us and stuff to another country that it was a fabulous deal. Travel first class and you get extra bags. Basically put the money you would pay for baggage into a first class ticket. Then getting treated royally in first class is very helpful at relieving the stress of moving. Having the lounge to retreat to instead of paying for a taxi to go to a somewhat okay hotel close to the aeropuerta is a huge savings in energy and time expended. The lounges also have showers so they really are prepared for the weary traveler.
We got to Guayaquil late at night and had an amazingly easy transfer through the customs. Basically show our passports and get a Welcome to Ecuador! Our driver Jorge (pronounced George) Lopez, his wife Beverly and Jorge’s sweet little son Justin met us and our 10 pieces of luggage. We had a little anxiousness in trying to figure out who Jorge was as he didn’t have a sign for us and there were a million people in the airport at that moment. Well a lot of people. He was looking for us to have our dos gatos, but we weren’t bringing them until the next trip down. Eventually we connected and Jorge and family took excellent care of us. Stored our bags in the van, drove us to their BnB right near the airport so we weren’t traveling long at all. Parked the van safely with in his garage with our stuff. Then after chatting a briefly to make sure we were comfortably set up in our room for the night, having made a morning plan, and meeting the smallest kitten ever and two golden labs, we happily called it a lonnnnnggggggg travel day.
The next morning Jorge and fam whisked us off for the Breakfast part of their BnB. They aren’t set to serve meals yet and perhaps they won’t set up for it. Instead we were taken to a local eatery run by a friend of Jorge’s. Delicious local cuisine. Family friendly service. The real ecuadorian deal. While we were eating our large plate of rice with scrambled egg on top and side of seasoned, shredded pork, Jorge called Ivan the driver that would take us up to Cuenca. Ivan is licensed to drive to Cuenca. That is very important, because you can be with an unlicensed driver and get stopped in the Caja’s and out you and all your stuff comes from that ride. Doesn’t sound pleasant at all to us.
Ivan came over and we finished up eating. Returned to Jorge’s BnAlmostB Casa, said our Hasta Luegos and headed off with Ivan. Ivan doesn’t speak ingles and we don’t really speak spanish yet, but as we drove along we were able to communicate a good bit. Ivan is a superb, safe driver and fun to ride with on an extremely treacherous road. We were so grateful for his focused driving and willingness to share info along the road.
At last we made it to our new casa that we are sharing with our stellar amiga, Deborah. The wonders of our new cuenca life are just beginning!