Friday, 20 June 2014

Our unexpected 15h-trip to the Caribbean

Wenn einer eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzählen. (M. Claudius, 1786)

(Translated from German: When someone goes on a journey, then he will surely have something to talk about afterwards.) How true is this traditional German poem that my grandmother immediately cited after we told her about our crazy transatlantic trip.

It was a very ordinary start into our trip to Germany. After our 12h coach night drive on Aguia Branca to Salvador, we had a large breakfast at the Salvador rodoviaria (central coach station) and then took one of the airport transfer coaches straight to the airport. Strolling around the shops, we then did the usual lunch, check in at the (hugest Condor) waiting line (of all times) et cetera until getting to the gate where we sat down to wait for boarding time. We would be waiting quite some time though. Although we were already used to waiting 30-45 min more for boarding, we all got a little bit antsy when no information got through to us about reasons for the delay. Discussions started, rumours about some technical errors went around and some people almost started a fight at the entrance asking for food and water, especially people with little children and babies probably did not have the most brilliant of times.

Till then, still pretty normal, given that the local police strike had just caused major chaos in the city a few days before, so we were not really alarmed yet.

Then, after about 2,5-3 hours, we were asked to get on board. Happy to finally get our long awaited dinner (thank god we had had huge lunch meals as well as snacks before), we boarded the plane, got our stuff in order and sat down. Then the pilot talked to us, he wanted to explain a few details so we thought, oh that s nice, he ll finally tell us what went wrong. I won t bore you with details about some false technical software error message of the left wing of the plane and communication-translation failures between the computing-tech team of the Condor but in the end, the captain had some more important information to get through....

"Please open page xy, you'll be able to see a world map there." (WTH?) OK, from that moment on, I and probably most (German speaking) passengers knew that we would not be flying to Germany that night. Poor English and Portuguese speaking people who had to wait the WHOLE explaining time in between as the pilot first spoke about the circumstances in German, then English and then one of the stewards translated the story into Portuguese. Long story short: Due to law, a plane even though experiencing a false technical error message, when being delayed more than 4 (or 5?) hours is not allowed to be away from an emergency landing possibility than 100km (or so). Meaning the more than 9000km journey across the atlantic was not possible anymore. Our emergency diversion lead us to: