keep-calm-we-have-a-change-of-plans

Yeah so… slight change of plans.

You know how things just don’t always go the way you want? Well that happened.

This is pretty embarrassing as a fairly avid traveler, but it happened so may as well own it. I got to the airport today all nice and ready to go – packed, a little rested, all that good stuff. Dropped the car off at Park’n’fly, arrived at Terminal 1 and visited the Air Canada kiosk to check in.

You know that sinking feeling you get when you know you really screwed up? Well that happened to me about 30 seconds into the checkin process. It asked me to scan my visa for Brazil. Panic. Panic. Panic! Yeah, that’s right – I didn’t get a visa. I’ve only ever been to two countries you couldn’t get an entry visa upon arrival or in advance with a quick online thing – India and China. I never imagined that Brazil would need one, and apparently I didn’t check. I could have sworn I went on the Canadian Government website to take a quick look before booking but if I did, I was clearly falling asleep and missed the part where it said tourists need visas!

So for the first of many times this evening, I ran over to someone and started with “I really messed up”.

Everyone was lovely really. Very sympathetic, and despite dealing with a whole lot of angry Americans who had just missed their flight they were all very willing to help. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t much to be done. At the end of the day, you need a visa. And you can’t just get one online. You have to go to the consulate, hand over your passport and then wait 10 days to get one back. I don’t have 10 days.

So after my initial panic I went over to the ticketing counter to see what could be done. This is where I met the mob of angry Americans. I found a friendly Air Canada rep frantically looking after the Americans and got her attention – she told me I had to go through Expedia since they were the ones that booked it, so I hopped on the phone with them. They couldn’t do anything because I had already checked in online, so the ticket was locked – luckily I found a really nice manager who was able to hop behind a random counter for me, pull up my ticket and yank me from the flight.

And that, of course, was the moment I knew for sure I wasn’t going anywhere tonight.

Got back on the phone with Expedia and eventually got a hold of a nice supervisor there. It took quite some time but we were able to get my flight fully canceled and refunded minus $150, which is better than I was expecting since it was a “non-refundable” flight. The hotel is still up in the air – when they tried to contact the hotel it was 1am local time and no one was in their reservations department, so we’ll see in the morning if I can get any of that money back or if that winds up being a terribly expensive lesson.

Immediately I started to think of what to do now… I had little desire to remain in the country, so I hopped online. I’m not sure why but my very first thought was Hawaii… which turned out to have a fantastic price for a seat on the 31st. I looked at a few other places just to see (Cape Town, Sydney, Laos, Singapore) but nowhere else came close in price, and I figured I’ve already spent enough, so I quickly got on the phone with Air Canada (since the ticketing counter was still full of angry Americans) and a very nice lady there was able to get the credit sorted out, price out the new trip and find a way to credit me back some money in taxes which roughly equalled the $150 that I had to pay for the difference in flight.

So it’s not what was originally planned, I don’t get to cross South America off my continent check list, but I will be on a beach for New Years! I fly out today (31st) around 3pm and get in to Honolulu around 9pm. I was in Honolulu before at the very start of my trip around the world (the blog entry is probably still here somewhere) and I had an amazing time – such a beautiful place, so I’m really looking forward to going back and I think it’s going to be a super relaxing time.

I’m trying to find somewhere to stay for two nights and by then I figure Expedia will have a solid yes/no on the credit for the hotel. If I get the credit then I’ll book somewhere else with Expedia for the rest of the stay, if not… I’ll take what I can get and find somewhere cheap! I found an airbnb that is half way reasonable, though I have no idea if I’ll get it or not so I’m starting there.

So yeah… it didn’t work out. But I think by keeping my cool, not losing it on anyone or anything, it’s worked out fairly well. I can’t say I’m thrilled but I’m feeling relaxed with it. Shit happens. I know I screwed up, I’m just really appreciative that I’m not losing it all from this, and I still get to go somewhere warm and lovely for a nice, relaxing vacation.

Rio will have to be another time, but I’m confident I’ll make it there eventually.

With that… I really need some sleep.