Where were we?
Put off on the pier in Cartagena, stressful.
No tickets today, no bueno.
Luxury resort, but not for our intrepid explorer.
Up again and off..lost cash, AHHHHHHH!
Found cash, never really lost. Duh.
Back to the airport, on the plane. Business class.
And back to the action after this completely unrelated tangent.
Have you ever traveled with someone who is so annoying that you would rather stuff them in their luggage and ride next to a large pile of their soiled clothing? Me neither.
So, back to the plane. We get Mr. Patient up the stairs, under his own power mind you, and tucked into his seat, swaddled in blankets and pillows. He seems like a nice guy who is more than a little embarrassed by this whole escapade. Mrs. Patient sits down next to him and I am in front of him. I strike up a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me who happens to be from Freeport, TX and in Colombia on business. Nice guy. He compliments me on my Spanish as he heard me talking to the stewardess and gate agent. It is certainly getting better. Since this guy lived in Mexico for 11 years, I am pretty happy.
When we land in Panama, we wait for everyone else to get off and then find a wheelchair waiting at the jetway. Luckily it wasn't another rolling staircase. We wheel up and get a guided trip through the airport to the gate for our next flight. Of course, we have to go through security, but the AA agent gets us to the head of the line and we are the first through. Mrs. Patient is becoming agitated that no one speaks English and she is demanding a bottle of water for her husband. He just flew business class with a nice lunch and beverages, I think he can wait for a moment. Well, she doesn't seem to like my lack of activity on their behalf. So, she ducks under the roped off area and goes into the nearby luxury travelers club. They don't give her anything as she is not a luxury travel club member. So she reappears, cuts through the line of people waiting to go through security, ducks back under the ropes and rejoins us to begin pleading with me to get him some water. Mr. Patient has not asked for water.
Of course the gate agent watched her do all of this. Of course she comes storming over and starts asking me in rapid fire Spanish just what the hell is going on. I am starting to see a small problem developing. I try to explain to Mrs. Patient what the agent is saying. Mrs Patient takes it upon herself to start defending her actions by loudly stating in English that she had already been through security once and she doesn't need to go again. The agent looked at me to translate. I caved. "No habla." The agent storms off and I try to explain to Mrs. Patient what the breach was and the gate agent returns with a large security guard. To my relief, she has only brought him over to translate. Eventually, to avoid a confrontation, he allows us to stay under the agreement that we won't be doing that again.
At this point another gate agent appears with the boarding passes for Mr. and Mrs. Patient. Of course, there isn't one for me. I am starting to mentally figure out what I am going to do when I have to stay the night in Panama. Of course my phone doesn't work. Luckily, it was only a small delay. I got my pass and we were quickly led onto the plane. Again, business class. By this point Mrs.Patient is livid. There were actually too many transgressions to name here. Buy me a drink some time and I will try to list them.
The flight to Miami was uneventful. About halfway, I asked the attendant if they could call ahead and arrange for an ambulance to meet us as I was told to do. He said they could and would.
When we arrive, there is no ambulance. There is no wheelchair. We have to wait. Apparently Panama people didn't call ahead to get a wheelchair arranged. Apoplexy is too mild a word for Mrs. Patient's response. Eventually, a poor harried man arrives with a wheelchair, for another person who was on the same flight. He has to return for Mr.Patient. When we eventually get up the jetway, we find the wheelchair man has a full cart of people and will have to come back to take us to Customs. So we wait. Meanwhile, the Patients are busily working the phone and telling everyone who they can find that they can not, will not, won't not stay in Miami and insist they be allowed to fly home to Boston. I tell her that it isn't my call. I am just to get them to the ambulance here in Miami. Much discontent ensues.
Eventually, the cart guy comes back and the Patients get on, resigned to their hospital visit in Miami. We get to the customs area and are wheeled to the head of the line again. Thanks to a few very nice customs agents, we are through the line and off. The Customs and gate agents all recommend that I put them in a large taxi to get them to a hospital as the response time to the airport can be quite long and they likely won't take them to the Ft.Lauderdale hospital. Ft. Lauderdale, Mrs. Patient exclaims, why are we in Miami when we are supposed to be at a hospital in Ft.Lauderdale. Good question, I assume that it was the best that could be done on short notice and tell her so. She isn't buying it. So, we collect their luggage and proceed to the taxi area where I get them on a large taxi to the hospital.
Then I take the wheelchair from the ship that we picked up in baggage claim and trundle it back to the check in counter to get my ticket back to Costa Rica. The ticket agent takes a look at my passport, my itinerary and asks me what countries I have been in over the past 6 days. I list off, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Panama. He asks me if I have my yellow fever vaccination card. I state that I don't and he tells me that I am not going to Costa Rica as that a yellow fever vaccination card is required for anyone who has been in Colombia within ten days prior to entry.
Well, then. I call the travel assistance company from my now working cell phone and they get to work. So I went out by the curb, sat in my wheelchair and waited. Eventually I found that I would be in Florida until the ship returns. Which is where I remain as I type this. I have switched hotels, but that is another story.
I would like to state, for the record, that I think my company did well by me and by the patients. Considering what needed to be done and the time frame involved, I think they did fine. Now, there are a few other things I have problems with, but I'll tell you about them when you buy me that drink.