I was scheduled to take a 9:00 am flight from Chicago to Bogota, Colombia. After a long night of packing and making final preparations, I got just two hours of anxiety-filled half-sleep before I had to get up at 5 to leave for the airport.
My boyfriend drove while I cried approximately 3 liters of tears. We hugged a final, unbearable goodbye outside the terminal as the sun began to rise. My heart hurt so badly I thought I might collapse.
Red-eyed, I stumbled into a long line stretching from the Copa Airlines check-in desk and within two minutes an airline employee was walking down the line telling us that our aircraft had been damaged by a bird during landing and the flight was cancelled. We then proceeded to wait for what seemed like forever while a single employee re-booked people on new flights, one by one.
It was more than three hours before I reached the front of the line, and was politely informed that neither Copa nor any of Copa’s partner airlines had any flights available to Bogota any time soon. The next time they could get me there would be in two days.
I began to panic, thinking of the ramifications of missing the first two days of orientation. How much information would I miss? How would I make friends when everyone else would have already gotten to know each other? Also, if I were to go back home, how could I possibly bring myself to say goodbye again?
Desperate, I pulled out my phone and began to search for flights to Bogota leaving that day and to my surprise and consternation there were dozens. I showed them to the lady helping me re-book, but she informed me that they were all overbooked and she couldn’t place me on any of them – though she suggested that I could buy one of them and receive a refund for my ticket on the cancelled flight.
To make a long story short, I ended up buying a new ticket on my phone in the airport (which thank goodness was only a little more expensive than my original ticket) then rushing to the American Airlines terminal to catch my new flight. It turned out that both the flights I took on American Airlines, supposedly a Copa airlines “partner” were half empty (damn you, Copa!)
I was very lucky to get to Bogota that same day, despite the rocky start. I landed at Bogota’s El Dorado airport at 1:30 in the morning, and dazedly made my way to the line of waiting taxis. Before I knew it I was zipping through the streets of Bogota on my to the hotel.
When I arrived, a very kind man checked me in and carried my bags to my room. It has a living room/kitchen area with a bedroom on either side, each with two twin beds. Three of the beds were occupied, so I crept into the room with the empty bed praying that I wouldn’t wake up and terrify my new roommate. Luckily she stayed asleep, and I, too, was asleep within minutes.
It wasn’t an easy day, but I am grateful to be here, more or less on time, and ready to start an adventure!