Welcome to South America.
What can I say except stress with a capital S. It all started well enough. My flight from Christchurch to Auckland was due to leave at 12.30pm so thought that if I got to the airport by 10am I’d have no problems breaking down the bike , bagging it and getting it on the domestic flight to Auckland to connect to Santiago. Wrong, Wrong , Wrong.
I got to the check in 20mins before the flight left and said ‘no chance Niel the Wheel’. I missed my flight. I just had time to buy the last ticket on another flight to Auckland and after the bike being overweight and drama with me juggling and dumping gear I and the bike was on it.
This flight of course left late so I got to the Auckland international terminal and they’d closed boarding to Santiago. My ticket to get there had cost $400 NZD! I pleaded with them to let me on and they rushed me through. Not before warning me however that my Mercian, my only companion at the moment, would probably not have time to get on. I had to get on or cancel the whole trip then and there. So I got on and worried during the whole trip how I would get my bike back. A true cyclist is never more than a km or two from his or her bike so the thought of being 6000kms from the Mercian was pretty painful. Doubly so knowing that it was my full transport. How would I get to my lodgings at the other end? Ten hrs. on the plane I agonised over it. But it wasn’t quite the only thing I agonised over.
In the rush to catch the flight I left all my e tickets and flight schedule in Auckland!
So when I arrived in Santiago I had to explain to the ground crew at the airport that I thought my baggage had gone astray and had no idea what flight I was booked on to Lima , what time it was or what airline!!!!
But I kiss the Chileans. My bike was found and had made the flight and they knew what flight I was on to Lima. Not only that I had time to sit down and thank my lucky stars. Here I am in Santiago waiting to travel to Lima and my bike has been put on the plane.
Now if I could just find a bit of free Wi-Fi I can tell my Adi and friends that I’m still doing it because my cell phone is certainly not working here. Maybe in Lima?