The run up to leaving presented some challenges. Mainly these revolved around the fact that our outgoing flights had been cancelled. We had hoped to travel over-night after work on a Friday night and arrive shattered in South America the next day, this plan had been hatched with the help of the LAN website which had suggested just such flights. We were to find out that 'booking' and 'paying' is by no means an assurance that 'flying' and 'ontime' would follow. The route out was via Madrid and it was the rather crucial Madrid->Quito link that had been binned and we had been placed on a flight at the same time the following day. Some searching online suggested that there was a better flight earlier in the day being offered by LAN so a phone call to enquire why this had not been offered started a rather strange conversation about the nature of code shares between airlines and finished with 'but are you sure sir, that is operated by Iberian?'. A phrase that was to come back to haunt us.

The last day at work seemed to pass by in a fluster of quarterly reviews, a large breakfast and a lot of sitting around chatting - demob happy! We still managed a bit of last minute shopping on the way to the airport (rubber ends for Eleanor's walking poles - we must have been gilding the Lilly at this point!). It felt odd only flying as far as Madrid and then checking into a hotel but the airline had put us up for the night in the airport Hilton - much posher than sleeping on the floor. The hotel was lovely but there was a sense of frustration that it wasn't on the other side of the Ocean but we twiddled our thumbs before attempting to put some sleep in the bank.