Friday, July 13, 2007

Bolivia, Dia 1-2

Great news! We made it to Santa Cruz after one insane travel experience. After being delayed in NYC and almost having my flight cancelled Tues. night, I ended up being on the only plane that left LGA for ATL that evening. A small miracle!

I arrived in ATL around 1 a.m., was picked up by a fellow trip member, and slept 3 hours prior to heading right back to the airport at 5 a.m. The rest is trivial travel drama and delays, so I won´t bore you with those details... things didn´t get interesting until we were on the plane in Miami preparing for takeoff.

One of the trip members saw all of our bags, tagged with a special bright orange ribbon, sitting on a truck, NOT getting loaded onto our plane. As we backed away from the terminal, we alerted the flight crew who were more or less indifferent. They checked into it, but assured us those weren´t our bags and they weren´t turning around to figure it out. One flight attendant was rude to us and it turns out, told the pilot that we needed to be taken of the plane for being "irate." Maybe things did get a little out of hand, but no one was threatening violence. We figured half of us would get our bags and half wo├║ldn´t... so we took off and headed south.

We landed in La Paz for a one hour stopover in the world´s highest altitude country capital... and there, I had my first taste of altitude sickness. Only one hour on the ground and I was sitting in a chair with an oxygen tank. Good times. Other members of my team were much sicker than me, I was just really woozy and nauseous. Note to self: don´t ever go back to La Paz.

We took off not a moment too soon and the sickness quickly wore off. Upon landing at VIru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz, our fears were confirmed but to a worse degree. NONE of us received our bags... they were sitting in sunny Miami on the tarmac, just as we´d said. The bags included ALL of our supplies for the mission plus our personal items, toothbrushes, change of clothes, etc. I hadn´t washed my hair since Tuesday, given I had to start traveling a day earlier than everyone else, so I was pretty narsty. Anyhow, we were all in the same boat so we just dealt with it cheerfully... and drove all the way back to the airport this morning to retrieve the bags that arrived overnight. Thank God, everything was there and accounted for.

Now that we´re over the hurdle, showered and smelling a lot better, we´re on to the mission!!! I was welcomed last night at the airport by my Compassion child Issett and wonderful Edwin and the Vacas. Karen (the gal who had heart surgery last year) looks amazing and totally healthy. We were all hugging and squealing and so excited to see each other.

Anyhow, better run... much to do and little time to do it!

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