Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 12: And I thought I'd have nothing to write about today...

Today I was traveling from Sucre to Santa Cruz.  I woke up this morning, my last morning in Sucre, and opened the curtains of my room for one last look at the morning sunshine falling on the city.  I was overcome by a bit of emotion at the thought of leaving Sucre so soon – it felt like I had just gotten there.

I reeled in my emotions, packed up the last of my things, and headed to breakfast.  I wasn’t very hungry, and I was going to be in Santa Cruz around lunch time, so I had a very light breakfast.  I got some help dragging my suitcase and the giant tub of soil samples down the three flights of stairs, and waited for my cab.

My flight to Sucre was supposed to leave at 11:50am and arrive in Santa Cruz at 12:55pm.  Only once I arrived at the airport did I find out that my flight was delayed until 3:15pm.  The woman at the Aerosur counter told me that they didn’t have a phone number for me in Bolivia, so they sent me an e-mail (which I later checked, and still have not received).  So after my 30 Boliviano cab ride, I checked in with the airline and decided to wait it out in the airport.

I found a place to sit and read for the next four hours.  The time passed so slowly, it truly was painful.  The airport is small, with only two gates, and not much to do.  The bathrooms are also extremely disgusting, but I just kept telling myself the dead llama earlier in the trip was much worse than the bathrooms.

Around 2:45pm, we began to board the plane to Santa Cruz.  We went through security (and I use that term lightly) before waiting in another holding area.  Let me explain the security check in Sucre.  You line up, and they hole punch your ticket if you’ve paid the airport tax (11 Bolivianos), but don’t check you passport or photo ID or anything.  Then you put your carry-on luggage on the scanner belt, walk around the scanner, and pick up your bags.  You don’t take off your shoes, your belt, or your jacket.  You don’t go through any type of body scanner.  And again, you don’t show any form of ID.  When you line up to walk across the runway to get on the plane, the woman at the door rips off the ticket stub, you pick up your complimentary sandwich, and you get on the plane.  There is no ID checking.  I think the U.S. airport security has made me paranoid because I wasn’t feeling very safe on that flight.

I arrived in Santa Cruz shortly after 4:00pm.  I stood waiting for my luggage, keeping an eye out of the taxi driver from Los Tajibos.  I found my suitcase quickly, but had to wait about 20 minutes for the soil to show up.  A very nice gentleman helped me put everything on a cart and informed me that there wasn’t anyone there from Tajibos, but he would help me get a cab.  He expected a tip at the end of that, but I only had 100 Bs bills and one single Boliviano.  So, feeling guilty, I only tipped the man one Boliviano, which he wasn’t happy about at all.  But I wasn’t giving him 100 Bolivianos.

I made it to the hotel, where I was informed that my cab driver had gone to the airport twice – once to pick me up at 12:55pm and once to pick me up at 3:30pm.  Well, obviously I wasn’t there at either of those times – my flight was delayed.  I also had to make some calls because I had missed the soil exporter who was supposed to meet me at the hotel at 3:00pm.  Another guy from the same company came around 5:30pm and (thank goodness) took the giant heavy tub of dirt.

After that I started to relax a bit.  I had a couple of beers in the restaurant of Los Tajibos.  Then I ordered room service to my room (I am so over sandwiches at this point).  I took a shower and repacked all of my stuff for the second time in 24 hours, and now I’m just relaxing watching some TV.  Tomorrow is going to be a long day, as I leave the hotel around 6:15am for the airport, and my first of three flights is at 8:55am.  I’m scheduled to be in Pittsburgh around 11:55pm tomorrow night.  To be honest, I cannot wait to get home.  It’s been a long, tiring journey.

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