An early start from Heathrow. We're ready at the KLM desks in Terminal Four just as check-in opens, and we're through to security in no time at all. Richard and Dawn bring up the rear. Richard is carrying a case of tourist radios, that we use once we're in Ecuador. We set up guides up with personal transmitters and headset microphones, and give every guest a small receiver radio and earpiece. The system greatly enhances the quality of commentary on tours, especially in noisier city centres for instance. So, Richard's carrying a case with around 45 of these radions, with lots of wires and batteries. He expects to be stopped by security and he is. On previous occasions, we've shown the paperwork and the security staff have taken a close look, randomly selecting a few radios to test. This time it's a little different! The security man disassembles every single radio, swabs each one for a drug or explosive test, looks at each battery. We absolutely don't mind any amount of security, so Richard waits patiently and Dawn decides to proceed to the flight gate, so at least one member of the Furlongs team can be assured of being on the flight on time! 35 minutes later, Richard appears with all radios intact!
The flight to Amsterdam takes off pretty much on time and we land early. On this occasion, our flight gate connection is also relatively nearby. It still seems quite a walk, but we've had to run before! Boarding the onward flight, onto a much bigger aircraft, is always quite fun to watch. The "corner" boarding gates at Amsterdam are L-shaped so not everyone waiting can hear or see what's happenning "up front". As a result, there is a constant stream of people taking a look to see if boarding has started. Eventually there is a tremendously long L-shaped queue of ticket holders, which goes beyond the nearby toilets. Then you have other airport users joining the queue, thinking it's the queue for the toilets! Finally, you have ticket holders that look at the queue, decide they are not waiting "that long", and discreetly cut into line close to the gate desk! People watching is so much fun!
The flight down to Ecuador is a long one, but the crew are friendly and the service is good, and the hours seem to disappear after a film or two, some reading, and a bit of a snooze. On arrival at Quito Airport, we proceed through immigration and by the time we reach the luggage carousel, Richard has all the luggage duly lined up and ready to claim. The next step is to put all our luggage through the "incoming luggage scanner". Richard is concerned his tourist radios will prompt action again, albeit in Spanish this time. The bags trundle through the conveyor and no one is watching. Richard collects his bag and walks off. Excellent.
Our two local guides, Fernando and Santiago are waiting for us. Our two buses arrive and we load up ready to drive to the city centre. The heavens open and there is a tremendous rain shower. We manage to keep dry. The drive to Quito city centre is around an hour, and on the way the weather brightens up. By the time we arrive at the Patio Andaluz Hotel there is no rain, and there's been no rain. Dry as a bone here.
The hotel team are ready to greet us. A nice welcome drink, room keys are ready, and we're soon off to settle in. We've organised a light meal and encouraged everyone to stay up as long as possible to help acclimatise to local time. We all do well, but by 8pm, our beds are definitely calling!