Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…I hummed that song for three hours on my flight from Ometepe Island to Managua, which was supposed to be a 20 minute flight.
I was a little concerned when I booked my flight online with La Costéna because it is usually $50 plus taxes for a one-way flight. This time it was $83. Why the increase in the cost? The flight schedule said the plane left at 2:45 and arrived in Managua at 3:05.
Since we live very close to the airport, I started to worry because for the past two months, I’ve only seen one plane land on Thursday and Sunday, instead of the usual two planes. Plus, I’ve heard reports from two people who live on the island that this flight doesn’t exist anymore.
So, I walked to the airport at 10 am to confirm that my flight left at 2:45 pm that same day. You see, our little airport doesn’t have a land line or internet, and there was no way to contact them to confirm my flight.
“I am here to confirm that my flight leaves at 2:45 today,” I said to Mariana.
Mariana responded matter-of-factually, “No. There is only one plane and it leaves at 12:30 pm.”
“But, my ticket says 2:45 pm,” I whined as I showed her a copy of my ticket.
“No. You need to walk home now and get your bags for the flight at 12:30 pm,” she said without any explanation about why I booked a flight that apparently didn’t exist.
“Where am I going?” I asked her.
She looked at me like that was a silly question, and pointed to my ticket which said Managua.
We were off…I wasn’t sure to where, but it was an exciting trip. We landed in San Carlos and picked up a few more passengers. It reminded me of a ruckus chicken bus ride with wings.
“Are we going to Managua now?” I asked the pilot.
“You don’t know where you are going?” he asked.
“Not really,” I said.”I thought we were going to Managua on a 20 minute flight from Ometepe Island.”
We waited for the assistant pilot, while he took selfies standing beside the plane, with a pretty female passenger, and in the plane. Was this his first flight?
And we were off again…to where I still wasn’t sure.
The weather started getting rough
Our tiny plane was tossed
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
Our plane was surely lost
Our plane was surely lost
Enveloped in heavy, dark rain clouds, our plane wobbled from side to side. The pilot turned on the radar because we couldn’t see a thing, while rain drops the size of quarters pelted the plane. Oh, look a rainbow. That reassured me, as I gnawed my fingernails…or what was left of them.
I could see the ocean. We must be landing at the mouth of the Rio San Juan where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, I thought to myself. The little town called San Juan del Norte, or Greytown was our next destination.
The assistant pilot took a few more selfies and we were off again. The Caribbean coastline was spectacular.
I didn’t ask where we were going anymore, because I was too busy snapping photos of the amazing cloud formations.
I was directed to the office of Bismark, one of the bosses of La Costéna airlines. I tried my best to keep a straight face when saying his name, and I think it helped me control my anger. Most Nicaraguans I know don’t like confrontations and they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Bismark was no exception.
“Bismark, habla Ingles?” I asked. I was hoping he would say ‘yes’ because it would be challenging to explain my dissatisfaction in Spanish. Bismark responded in perfect English, “No. I do not speak English.” Alrighty then…and I proceeded to explain the problem with my flight and my three-hour tour in Spanish with lots of hand movements and some mime.
When I asked Bismark a question in Spanish, he replied in English. I think he was playing with me and I wasn’t a happy flier. He told me how expensive it is to run the usual route when there is only one passenger. I told him, I understand that, but all he needed to do was to change the time on the website for when the plane left.
I explained that I lived close to the airport and I could easily walk to the airport to check on the time the plane left. However, what about the poor tourists? If they book a flight online, they expect it to leave when it is stated on the ticket. This was bad for tourism. Malo, malo, malo. Plus, what was with the increase in the cost? He said, “The fuel is very expensive for a three-hour trip.”
Bismark copied my ticket and told me that the time for the flight would be changed on the website. Of course, I have learned not to hold my breath. I checked the website today, and the time is still the same. Sigh!
My three-hour tour wasn’t all bad. I met many new people, took some gorgeous photos, and saw Ometepe Island from every angle. But, next time…I think I’ll take a taxi to Managua. It will be cheaper and take less time.
Have you ever booked a flight where the time of departure was wrong? Did you miss your flight because of it? I don’t expect many people to respond that this has happened to them. Oh, Nicaragua! Sometimes living in the land of the not quite right is baffling.
We’re leaving the island again next week for a trip to Guatemala. We are traveling by taxi to Managua…that’s for sure. 🙂