Bogota Colombia The Patagonia Travel Travel Insurance

The Last Flight Out

I was in Bogota Columbia and had just ordered my lunch at the Albahaca Restaurante, it was 1 PM Thursday, March 19th. While I was waiting for my food I took out my cell and opened the NY Times app which headlined the US government advised that all US Citizens should return home immediately or be prepared to stay where they were overseas indefinitely. Wow! Next, I called my friend Marc who works in the American consulate in Juarez Mexico and asked him what was happening and his only answer was for me to leave immediately for home.

My original return flight back to New York was on April 7 with American Airlines. When I called AA to re-book the flight I went right into a hold and when I tried their website it was not functioning. Chase Travel who booked a flight for me put me on indefinite hold also and was not much help either.

What am I supposed to do, wait?

Bogota International Airport

It was smart to move that fast and I was very lucky to make it home before everything shut down. From my understanding, the Bogota airport closed Thursday, March 19th at midnight which was three hours after I departed. JFK closed March 20th.

My travel insurance company will not pay for anything, not the new return flight home, not for the Bogota rent that I paid in advance, nor the food I left in the refrigerator in Bogota, nada nothing. American Airlines told me yesterday April 18, 2020, that they will refund me 15 dollars for the canceled return flight from Bogota to Miami to JFK which originally cost over eight hundred dollars.

The point is that for 2 days I had to completely rely on myself with no support or assistance from any of the airlines, travel agents, backup or insurance systems I had in place. I paid through the nose for everything and when push comes to shove the people I engaged and who were supposed to look out or assist me did not answer the phone.

Note, eventually my return ticket on American Airlines was refunded to me.

Bogota Colombia The Patagonia Travel

Bogota, Colombia

I have been in Bogotá now for nearly four weeks. I would have left five days ago, but the national strike and a severe cold persuaded me to put it off for a few more days. I leave tomorrow for Cali. I changed AirBnB a few days ago, and my new hosts, Claudia and Jairo, have been Saints. When I arrived at the new place, all I wanted to do was sleep, and I could not think about my food. I’d be in bed with the covers piled high when the tap would come on the door and invited to a meal. Claudia and Jairo Have been feeding me three meals a day. Of course, I contributed to the cost.

Last Thursday, there were large protests here in Bogota. I did not go out that day, which I attributed more to my cold than to fear, but I did hear marchers and pot banging in the distance. This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the city has been tranquil, most of the shops closed early, and there have been police curfews at night. What is happening here is not like the marches, protests, and riots I have seen on the news occurring in Chile. I am concerned and a bit uncomfortable about my imminent visit to Chile even though my friends in Coyhaique assure me that all is quiet.

The bus trip to Cali should take about 10 hours even though it’s only 200 miles. To go to the airport is such a pain, why not take a bus. By bus, I can see the countryside, travel through the mountains, and meet new people. Why not? I will report back on Tuesday.