5. Lost Ticket, Quito Ecuador 1978
Updated: Jul 28, 2018
Shhhhhh, don't tell my parents.
It's 1978, our family has been living in Quito Ecuador for 6 months after 5 years of living in Brazil. It is decided that my little sister, age 14, and I, age 16, are going to travel to Mexico City and Dallas TX to visit family for two weeks on our own. It should be an easy trip as our family has been traveling together for 16 years.
Our parents had taught us how to manage our own passports during all those trips, keep our bags by our sides and even allowed us to check in at the airport counters every time we flew. So this was nothing new. The only thing new this time was that we did not have the safety net of our parents by our side once we got on the plane. Back in the 1970's it was customary and normal to have all family and friends at the departure gate waving you goodbye as you walked down the jet way to the plane. Our parents did so on the first leg of our trip knowing that once we were on the flight, our family members in Mexico City would be there at that end of the jet way once we exited the plane. Sure enough, that is what happened. A short 4 hour flight and we were in the comfort of our Aunt and Uncle who were thrilled to have us visit with them for a week in Mexico City.
The wonders of eating tacos, pastries from the local bakery down the street, wonderful beans and rice awaited us along with all our family members.
My favorite pastries from MexicoCity, are the Churros and Orejas. I just love the long crispy fried dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar. Warm and fresh are the best. The Mexican puff pastry baked to create a crispy crunchy airy pastry is dream with my coffee in the morning. My Aunt and Uncle know this so we first visit the nearby pastry shop for our favorite treats. Visiting family as young teenagers in our family is just that. You arrive, stay, eat, visit then you leave. It was a magical week well enjoyed.
The week went by quickly. On our departure day, we proceeded to the airport with our bags packed ready to take our flight from Mexico City to Dallas, Texas where we would visit with our paternal grandmother. Check in was easy. Go to the ticket counter, be issued boarding pass and head to gate. Off to the gate my sister and I went with our Aunt and Uncle. We boarded our flight and sat ready to take off.
Moments later, we are told that the flight will be delayed a few hours and all passengers are to get off the flight. My sister and I gather our few belongings and exit the plane. There my Aunt and Uncle are waiting as they too have received the news of our delayed flight. With a few hours to kill, and nearing dinner time, we head over to one of our favorite Taco street cart. We each order our favorite open faced 4 inch tacos and stand on the road side savoring each morsel. To pay, you take your papers that your tacos were once sitting on. The cashier counts them up and tells you the price you owe. In general, we each have two tacos.
With some time wasted eating in the street, we head back to the airport. No security, just head straight to the gate. We say our goodbyes and board the aircraft.
It is a short two and half hour flight but with the delay and already a full day visiting family, we are both tired. We dozed off slightly during the flight but were fully awake upon arriving into the DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) airport. It is late in the evening. We get a taxi and arrive at my grandmothers house late into the night. She is glad to see us but we are all tired. Off to bed we go.
The next morning, we cook breakfast, enjoy many hours of story telling and even make a rung to the corner supermarket for some groceries. Smart woman my grandmother. Instead of stocking up on food she thinks we would like, she allows us to choose our own food. This is a crazy adventure as the supermarkets in the states are a bit of a shock to us. Extremely large and way too many choices. It takes us at least an hour to walk around and decide on what we would like to have. We can't be too excited with all that is around us as we have to carry the grocery bags back to the apartment with us.
After lunch, the normal routine begins with confirming our return tickets over the phone with the airlines. I go to my suitcase and cannot find the tickets there. I ask my sister to look for the tickets and she too cannot locate them. I look in my purse. Nothing. Now I panic a bit. What is my next step. At 16 years of age, I have never had this experience. We always had our tickets. I call the airline and explain to them my situation. They tell me that the fee for replacing our tickets will be $50. To make a really long story short, we went to the bank via taxi, got a cashiers check for that amount. We then went to the airline office, paid the fee and voila, new tickets to Miami Florida were issued to us. I still had to figure out how to get back to Quito, Ecuador, but that would be later. For now, I was happy with just getting to Florida.
After a wonderful few days with my grandmother, who was still in the dark about our lost tickets, my sister and I left and caught our flight to Miami, Florida. There we headed over to the airline counter to check in for our flight.
"Tickets please," asks the ticket agent.
"We lost them. Could you please tell me how it will be to replace them?" I ask.
"You are under 18 years of age. You will need an adult to help you with that," says the ticket agent.
You have got to be kidding. Now I am going to have to get my father involved. We head over to the information counter and ask if they could make a collect call to my fathers office. I give them the number, and the phone starts to ring. After telling my father all that happened, he says not to worry. He will take care of getting us replacement tickets for our flight home. However, because so much time has gone by, we will now have to wait until the next day to catch the flight back home to Quito, Ecuador.
Knowing we had a day left before we could leave, my sister and I checked into the on site airport hotel. This was an amazing experience. There were plush bath robes, two large beds, a TV, a device we had grown up without, and then there was the room service. We did not know how to contain our excitement. For two young sisters, this was paradise. We watched all kinds of crazy American shows we had never heard of and ate all sorts of wonders from the room service menu.
Tired and full, we slept for hours that night. Up the next morning, we gathered our belongings, headed to the ticket counter where our new replacement tickets were awaiting us and boarded the flight to Quito, Ecuador.
Upon arriving in Quito, we greeted our parents answering all kinds of questions about the family and how they were doing. Out of the blue my mother has a question.
"Why did you come home a day late?" she asked, obviously not knowing what happened.
The look on my fathers face said it all.
"Our grandmother in Dallas needed some help with the bank and it took a bit longer than expected," I replied, looking at my dad who had a smirk on his face.
It took years before the real reason for our extra day was ever revealed to our mother. Never the less, the trip opened my eyes to all that could go wrong and when it does, to not panic. Just handle one obstacle at a time, be patient and flexible. To this day, these lessons still get used in my every day travel adventures.