ECUADOR - Saturday November 14th, 2008

Got up, tossed the rest of my stuff together and we boogied to the airport.

Delta messed with my head for a second. I waved my eticket at the triage person, who sent me to the baggage check counters. There she asked if I had checked my bags, and I said, no, that's why I'm here. She sent me to the kiosk to print up a new boarding pass with baggage checked in on it. It refused to let me do it, and I got a kiosk smurf to help me, and she said it was too late, I'd have to reschedule my flight. I mentioned that to the triage person who sent me to the full-service window. Where international travellers are supposed to go. Smooth sailing, but it made me have to practically run to catch my plane to Atlanta that was boarding the last few passengers as I approached.

Food service was lousy and they kept trying to give me peanuts. I guess that alone is supposed to worth the extra $300 for business class. LOL. The movie was "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and it wss actually good. Should be great on Imax 3D.

In Atlanta I called Verizon 611 and got a runaround about how the International Division was only open M-F 8-6. I finally got someone that knew what they were talking about and got the real International service number and turns out I have to pull the Sim card to activate it. No easy feat in a busy airport. I finally got International GSM service turned on, but instead of the leisurely hour I thought I had to eat etc. I now had about 20 minutes to get to my gate on the other end of the terminal, on the train. Again, I got there just as it boarded, so no food for me.

Well, much like USAIR, who I think has the worst domestic flights ever, but decent international, Delta had great service. They fed us right away, and it was real food. I got to watch some TV shows, some documentaries, and "Wanted" which I wanted to see when it was at the theater.

In Ecuador, immigration and customs was easy, and there was indeed a huge line of people waving signs greeting business persons and loved ones. Just as I got to the door I found one of my guides, and I guess he looked at my faxed passport, and called out "Rick". It was Javier, and he grabbed my bags and took me to a cafe, where he ordered a chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) for me - which was not as sweet a the US counterpart.

We waited for the Continental flight, which was over an hour late (glad I didn't take that one). Two more team members were on that flight. We headed out to Javier's SUV and loaded our bags, and headed to the Hotel. There we were greeted by a team of porters who hauled our bags in. I got to room with Daniel, who tipped the porters, and we headed to sleep. Day one.