What a hellish few days I just had trying to get to Colombia. My flight to Colombia was on the evening of the 14th from Orlando, and I had a flight from New Orleans to Jacksonville on the 13th. I had planned to take the train from Jacksonville to Orlando arriving with plenty of time to spare and get to the airport. What should have been a simple trip turned into a stressed rush to make sure I got to Orlando in time to catch my flight.
Firstly, my flight to Jacksonville was cancelled. This flight was from New Orleans to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to Jacksonville. The Atlanta to Jacksonville flight was cancelled because of the unexpected snowstorms. Now, this was worrying as I did not have the funds to purchase a new flight to get to Orlando in time, and did not look forward to perhaps having to hitchhike or find some other way there.
Before going through security in New Orleans I asked at the delta information desk who advised I should go through security and take the flight to Atlanta, because I would have more options available to me to help me get to Atlanta. So, I went through security, only to end up waiting about 3 hours because that flight was delayed.
Now, this was all fine, but I thought I would make sure what was happening with my flight and see if there was any chance of getting a new connecting flight to Jacksonville or Orlando. Upon inquiring I found out my entire flight had been canceled, even the flight from New Orleans to Atlanta. Wow, thanks for checking that for me Delta employees at the information desk. It also would have been nice if I had received some sort of notification, instead of just letting me print my boarding pass and informing me that only the Jacksonville flight was canceled.
However, waiting as I did actually worked out to my advantage as I ended up being put on another flight to Atlanta and got a connecting flight to Jacksonville. This was a big relief as I didn’t have to worry about getting to Orlando from Atlanta at night…only from Jacksonville, a mere 2-2.5 hours away. To keep with the pattern, after arriving to Atlanta the flight to Jacksonville was delayed for about a further 2 hours because of a flight attendant running late. However this went smoothly and I arrived at Jacksonville without issue.
I was unable to find any suitable accommodation in Jacksonville, and there was no night transport so I decided to just stay at the airport. Free WiFi, warm inside, comfy chairs and no one else around helped 6 hours to go by fairly quickly. In the morning I went to catch a bus to town, and then to the Amtrak station. Due to it being a Sunday the next bus was not until 7:47 A.M. As luck would have it, the driver of that bus was new to her job and was running 10 minutes late, which led to me missing the connecting bus to the Amtrak station.
After verifying there was no bus getting to the Amtrak station before my train was set to depart, I looked for a taxi. After finding a taxi I realized I could not take it, as the driver was unable to accept credit cards. After calling another taxi that could, $10 later I arrived at the Amtrak with about 45 minutes to spare. Only to find out my train had been delayed for just over 3 hours, again apparently because of snow.
This was no good, as getting to Orlando at 5 P.M. would definitely have led to me missing my flight. So, it was back to the bus station on a public bus this time with a new goal of catching a Greyhound bus. After asking various people where they Greyhound station was and getting slightly differing responses each time, I eventually made it. On the way however, I ran through church central. There were almost 10 Baptist Churches all next to each other, and with all the church goers out and about looking to hand out free bibles or some such. Sheesh. At this time I had been awake for just over 30 hours…dealing with religious nuts was the last thing I needed.
After finally arriving at the Greyhound station at about 11 A.M. I promptly purchased a ticket to Orlando, set to arrive just before 4 P.M. Now, I was none too pleased with this since that would not give me much time to find a taxi and get to the airport…leaving just about 30 minutes to get through lines and make sure I could check in on time. I had absolutely no other choice however, so I had to take my chances.
At around 12 P.M. however, a bus pulled up and let about 40 people of. All who were going to be catching the same bus as me, heading towards Orlando. Until this time I had been the only person waiting for a bus…the sudden influx of passengers did not worry me, as I assumed that the bus would still leave on time. Waiting around for the bus to leave was OK, and I even made a potential business contact.
However, when I was still in line at 1 P.M. for a bus that was meant to leave at 12:30…I started to get worried. I still had no other choice…and there was still a chance that I would arrive at the airport with 10 minutes to spare. However, a sudden change of luck resulted in the line being divided, with one bus stopping at all stops along the way, and another bus going direct to Orlando, meaning just a 2-2.5 hour trip.
I ended up arriving just before 4 P.M. and managed to get a taxi straight away which ended up costing about $40, and arrived at the airport at about 4:30 P.M. There was a short line, and I had my boarding pass by about 4:45 P.M., 15 minutes before checkin closed. I went through security without a hassle, and my flight boarded rather quickly…indeed, I was among the first passengers able to board.
I was comfortably sitting in my seat, the worst of it over where I took advantage of relaxing and watching some TV shows before managing to sleep for a few hours. I arrived in Bogota at the expected time, got through customs without a hitch and found my accommodation. After 42 hours without sleep and an extra $100 later, I was now in Colombia, ready to being the next branch of my adventure.