I am a seasoned traveler but even I could hardly believe the series of unfortunate events that befell my latest trip. Just before I stopped taking estrogen (which was making me ‘high’), I decided that I wanted one last really adventurous trip. After checking the State Department’s website, I noted that Quito in Ecuador was now much safer for tourists. Done! Before I could blink a manic eye, the flight was booked and the ‘authentic’ hotel in old town Quito. I excitedly started sharing my forthcoming trip with friends who expressed concern about the dangers and pointed out that I look very fair. As the estrogen started leaving my body, I realized that even though Quito was safer than it had been, I might feel restricted using my camera. Then there was the weather…Quito is cold! It is 9000 feet above sea level which might affect the cyst in my chest.
I was able to cancel the hotel easily and was sad because the owner seemed charming and helpful. Then I paid a change fee for United Airlines to screw me some more and give me a credit. Almost immediately I decided to go to the safest city in Mexico – Mérida. Mérida is in the north of the Yucatán region and very popular with expats with the cost of living, safety and good health care. I booked the hotel through a well-known internet company. It was another hacienda boutique hotel, close to the old part of the city. The day before my departure, I woke up to find an email saying my hotel was not available and would I like to stay in the Ibis? “Hell no!” was my response and for the Americans, Ibis is a cheap motel chain from Europe popular with backpackers visiting the Maya ruins. I phoned and explained that I wanted a boutique hotel. Long story short, I cancelled everything and started with another travel company.
Hurrah! I found another lovely hotel, pictured above, and even phoned the hotel directly to explain that I was arriving on a late flight from Houston (so please don’t give my room away). They were delightful and I was happy…briefly. It was a full flight from Houston and the ground staff delayed our boarding because the AIR CONDITIONING WASN’T WORKING… WTF??? It was almost 100 degrees in Houston but none of us wanted to miss the one flight per day to Mérida. Babies were screaming, we were all severely over-heated but no one said anything because the staff looked as though they were going to expire. Finally we got off the runway and up high enough for the air-conditioning to work. Thank goodness the flight is only 1hr and 40 minutes.
Mérida airport was wonderful! Clean, new and friendly – including the immigration officers. I went straight outside to the very well organized taxi service where you pay a small fee in advance to your destination – mine was about $10. I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove from the airport. Mérida is a beautiful city and women were walking alone on dark streets. We shortly arrived at my hotel that had that beautiful layout of Spanish or Moroccan buildings with an interior atrium. They offered me a gratefully received alcoholic drink and took me to my beautiful bedroom. I was so happy…
I will continue with the series of disastrous events in future posts.