December 18, 2009
Toronto - Quito
We left home at 05:00h under cold, blustery conditions having scraped the ice from the windshield. As our departure date approached we had been assiduously trying to clear the fridge of any food remaining, so we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a coffee and bagel which we ate in the car en route to Pearson International Airport. We made good time and were ferried to the airport from Skyway Park and were at the gate by 06:50h for an 08:50h scheduled departure on American Airlines, which was slightly delayed, but we were in the air by about 09:10h.
There was considerable turbulence en route and as we neared our destination the captain advised that due to severe weather conditions in Miami and the fact that his radar equipment was malfunctioning, he didn’t wish to fly into Miami "blind" so we were redirected to Tampa for refuelling and repairs to the radar equipment. We touched down there at 12:25h. I went to the rear of the aircraft to see whether I could purchase anything to eat, since we had no idea how long we would be stranded in Tampa. The only two items left were a small bag of nuts and a single chocolate chip cookie. These we shared with a student who was seated next to us.
Fortunately, our stay in Tampa was brief and we were en route to Miami by 13:05h. We arrived at 14:00h and had just a short walk to our gate for the flight to Quito, scheduled to leave at 15:20h. Initially the flight was delayed until 16:10h and subsequently rescheduled to 17:05h. The earlier weather system was now south of Miami so we had to fly north to get around the system and gain altitude before veering southwards towards Ecuador. Severe turbulence delayed the serving of dinner. We chose chicken prepared in a tomato sauce with green beans and mashed potatoes. Suffice to say, we should have chosen lasagna!
We enjoyed a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with our dinner.
The flight attendants on both legs of this trip seemed to be a motley assortment of malcontents thrown together for these flights. None of them was pleasant or courteous, one complained of her aching legs, but the star of the show was a young attendant whose favourable opinion of herself seemed boundless. Her special talent was to chew gum at all times whatever the task she was performing. It was a tour de force with open-mouthed mastication, sharp lip-smacking and a clear vision of her pink tongue and glosso-laryngeal appendages. Doubtless special training is required to perfect this skill.
One can readily see what a drudgery this job must be. Any semblance of glamour formerly associated with flight attendants has long been replaced with the dreary function of a waiter/waitress in the sky, without the tips unfortunately.
We landed in Quito at 21:00h and had cleared customs, immigration and retrieved our bags by 21:50h, all the while dealing with people who made us feel welcome and expressed sincere wishes that we would enjoy our stay in their country. As soon as we exited the arrivals lounge we were greeted by Juan, a representative of Neblina Forest, who whisked us off to the Sebastian Hotel, where we were escorted to a lovely room and looked forward to a hot shower and a good night’s sleep.
The efficiency, politeness and promptness displayed by Juan would be a constant feature of our stay in Ecuador. Neblina Forest had the tour organized with precision and every transfer and tour took place seamlessly and without a hitch.
Accommodation: Sebastian Hotel, Quito.
Rating: Four stars.