It all started at Lake Taupo, New Zealand, Wednesday morning at about seven o clock. We didn´t notice any ominous signs outside in the sky but in hindsight they must have been there somewhere. Kate and I loaded up the hire car for our 4 hour sprint to the airport in Auckland and then our flight to Quito, Ecuador via Santiago de Chile. The drive was fairly uneventful except we were to learn later of one of the largest thermal eruptions in New Zealand was happening as we drove past but that's a different story.
We made it to the airport on time via a small heated discussion with the hire car company, over a small chip in the windscreen which they wanted to charge us for. ( despite a mechanic checking it out and passing it off as no problem). Checked in, and we're on the runway ready to go except that the entertainment system has crashed and we spend a relaxing couple of hours waiting for them to fix it. Finally we left NZ and crossing the dateline we go back in time and find out it's still wednesday morning. After about 12 hours flying we arrive in Santiago de Chile and it's wednesday afternoon. 4 hours wait at the airport for our connection and all is ok except that our eyes are poking out of our faces.
We board the Lan chile flight to Ecuador, laugh at their safety video and make ourselves comfortable as the attendent makes an announcement on the PA system. "La problemas politico Y militario en Ecuador". Having not kept up with Ecuadorian current affairs I thought they were having some kind of joke, especially as half the people on board were laughing. But sadly this was no joke. the airport was closed due to political and military reasons and we were going back to the Terminal. I was starting to feel like Tom Hanks by now.
Airport closed.... So what had happenned to this supposedly safe South American country? Had rebel militia siezed the airport, and begun firing rocket launches at the army? My imagination, spurned by lack of sleep, was having it's own holiday. The truth was no stranger. El presidente had apparrently been sacked and was fleeing for the airport when the army and demonstratotrs tried to stop him from leaving. He managed to get a helicopter from the palace roof to take him to an undisclosed location.( Brazilian embassy) and spontaneous celebrations begun all around Ecuador.
Meanwhile back in Chile, Kate and I were trying to work out what was happenning with our Travel situation. After a couple of hours filling in various forms, having our passports looked confiscated and filling in more of the same forms we ended up in a nice 4 star hotel courtesy of Lan Chile. By now we had met half the plane and we were all bonded in the way that all very tired and delirious people bond.
5 hours sleep and we were up again, bundled back to the airport to board our 5 hour flight to Quito. Big wednesday was finally over, the streets of our strife torn city seem fine and we are now staying in a delightful backpackers in the old town. So the Latin American adventure begins...