We’re off to South America today!…An unexpected surprise from an old friend…

Tom’s old friend Jerry, from his railroad days, stopped by to celebrate our departure, bearing gifts and good humor. Thanks, Jerry! How thoughtful you are!

We’re packed and ready to go. We just returned from breakfast, each eating a little more to hold us until we can eat again. I may not eat again for 24 hours when airplane food never works for me, and there’s too little time between the two flights to stop for a meal.

We have a 1-hour, 9-minute layover in Houston after the four-hour flight from Minneapolis and then another 5-hour flight to Quito, Ecuador, much shorter than most of our flights. We don’t arrive until 11:35 pm, the same time zone as Minnesota. The cruise line has arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport to take us to our hotel, JW Marriott. Hopefully, we’ll handle the altitude relatively easily and get a good night’s sleep.

We’ve already started drinking a lot of water, which is recommended to reduce altitude sickness at Quito’s 9350 ft. We have no idea how we’ll react to this, but time will tell.

Me and Tom are in the hotel lobby celebrating with Jerry.

Yesterday early evening, after the dreadful Minnesota Twins playoff baseball game loss, we ordered takeaway from Pizza Luce since we no longer have a rental car, which we returned on October 9, when the 30-day contract ended. When we were getting ready to pick up the food, our hotel room phone rang, and it was Tom’s old friend from the railroad, Jerry.

Our room was too messy to invite Jerry, so we met him downstairs in the lobby. We were shocked and in awe of everything Jerry had brought for us to celebrate our departure under the guise of our mutual “un-birthdays.” He had hilarious stuffed animals, decorations, a plate of delicious bars, zip drives with books, a cap for Tom, an adorable card, and more.

We couldn’t believe his thoughtfulness and generosity to come all this way to make us both feel so special before departing for South America. We kept the bars, the zip drives, and the cap and suggested Jerry keep the decorations for his next celebration for another recipient.

When it was time for all of us to go, we hugged Jerry goodbye, thanking him repeatedly for thinking of us and being so kind and generous. He’s been a regular reader of our site for years and seems to know everywhere we’ve been and everything we’ve done. It’s always fun to meet with people who’ve been following us for some time.

Jerry’s partner, Dot, made these delicious brownies and caramel bars. Tom said they were delicious. We wrapped up the balance and brought them with us so Tom could snack on the journey to Quito.

So, soon, in about an hour, we’ll take off for the airport. We’ll get the cart to bring our bags down to the lobby and then call Uber to take us to the Airport. Tom always likes to go much earlier than we need to, but I go along to avoid him feeling stressed. Yes, we should arrive two hours earlier for international flights, when we must go through immigration and the lengthy line at US security.

It takes much longer to go through security at US airports than in other countries, but we follow the flow and keep a good attitude. There’s no point in making a fuss about waiting in a queue. Thank goodness I am over 75 years old and no longer have to take my shoes off when going through security. Duh, a small perk for being this old.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We will be back tomorrow, hopefully feeling well and adapting to the altitude in the same manner as we adapt to most travel situations. We shall see.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 11, 2013:

Early in the morning in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, we spotted this mother warthog nudging her babies along. We squealed with delight along with them as they scurried along. Anderson stopped the vehicle so we could watch as we noted a few lions in wait in the direction of the little pigs, hoping they’d be lunch. For the full story, please click here.