Who wants to be in Morocco when you can be stranded at the Madrid airport? Oh wait...just about everyone.
So, leaving Brazil proved a bit more adventurous than planned. Our last day was a comedy of errors, minus the comedy. Rahima's camera broke in Rio when it accidentally jumped out of my hand at a crowded party. So on Monday we began a mission to get it repaied, which led us all over Rio to various shops that either no longer existed, didn't have the necessary part, would need two days, or would cost an arm and a leg. Feeling responsible for the loss of picture taking ability, I decided I could live without my left arm, and we left the camera to be fixed. We attempted to meet our new friend Ana for lunch but somehow spent 45 minutes waiting without finding her...while she did the same without finding us. We then went to take a few last pictures, then hopped on a city bus to save a few cents instead of taking the subway. An hour later we arrived, only to find out that the lense they put in the camera wasn't compatible and therefore wouldn't focus. Translation: Rahima is still sans camera, but I have both arms.
So we rushed back to pack our things and catch the bus to the airport. Even with Daniel's explicit instructions, we caught the wrong bus and kept asking for directions to get to the right bus. Half the people had no idea where to send us and the other half gave such detailed directions that we had only the vaguest idea of what they werwe saying. So wander we did and just as we were about to give up, Rahima saw the bus passing us by. This sent us into a sprint, backpacks and all after the bus. Luckily for us the bus had a red light, so we caught up and got on.
This morning we landed in Madrid at 10am, and looked down to the floor below us to see Rahima's friend who was meeting us for our flight to Morocco. We waved at her, got our bags, and then stood in line to check in for our 12:20 flight. There were only 4 ticket windows open for a huge line, and a few times an Iberia representative would come by, calling out flights that were getting close and pulling people from the line. She didn't call our flight, but probably due to my recent flight history, I decided to ask anyway. She told me not to worry and to stay in line. About 15 minutes later (11:30ish) I noticed a couple who had made it to the ticket counter but were turned away and obviously very agitated. I went to the customer service area and asked what was going on and they said that our flight was now closed! I will try to spare you all the details here because I am still hot about the whole thing and those of you who really know mw know that is not a pretty place. Long story a bit shorter is that I will NEVER fly Iberia again. They could not be less helpful. We were two of at least six people who had been in line at least two hours proir to flight departure, as recommended. The others were pissed off too. I have been told ALL day long that it is not Iberia's fault that we all missed the flight. It is ours. I have argued furiously and then to the point of tears with about 7 people in person and countless more on the phone. There is apparently NO ONE who can rebook, refund, or offer another wauy to get to Morocco (where Rahima's friend now is) short of paying them $1000 US and flying Thursday night. I have filed two official complaints and we bought tickets with another airline for about $225. URGH!!!
Hopefully Alyson can disput the credit card charges and we can eventually recoup some of these ridiculous expenses. I spent over $20 in payphones today and we spent about $15 for 2 burgers and a soda at McDonalds. When people said Europe was going to be expensive I didn't think they meant the airport!
In any case, we are stuck here until 9:30 tomorrow morning. Somehow I think staying up all night in the Madrid airport will not be nearly as fun as in Rio. But maybe at least my delirium will make for good blog entries. :)