Leave it to the uncivilized frontier of central Florida to throw a serious wrench into our travel plans.
We are veterans of air, bus and train travel in some of the world’s edgiest of places, having negotiated the quirky schedules and logistical challenges of the likes of India, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and a good chunk of Europe. We have successfully found our way where we didn’t speak the language and were confused by cultural nuances and dramatically unfamiliar turf. Yet we found ourselves lost and just about out of time and luck only miles from Disney World and Cape Canaveral.
On our way from Orlando to Atlanta and then on to Ecuador, we’d gone to the wrong airport, blithely following signs for Orlando Sanford International airport instead of plain old Orlando International Airport. Why Orlando would require two international airports is beyond me. Why they’d name them so similarly (and fail to point out the difference in roadway signage) is downright baffling. Regardless, there we were, standing in the rental car depot, 35-40 miles from our port of exit to Ecuador, without a car or directions and with only two hours to spare until departure, hearing to the dreaded words that travelers hate to hear the most:
“Honey, you’re at the wrong airport.”
The agent suggested that we hot-foot it back to where we left the car, jump back in and “scoot” over to the right airport, wherever that might be. Hustling around the corner of the depot in the blistering mid-day Florida sun, we got a glimpse of the car drop lane: too late. Our car had already been taken for cleaning for the next renter.
Ignoring the fact that we’d left our rental at the wrong airport, we hailed a cab, tossed our bags in the back and pleaded with the driver to step on it. Hauling his massive 6-foot, 2-inch (both ways) frame into the minivan, he responded by launching into a series of stories about the rude passengers he’d had over his 20-year driving career as he crawled towards the exit. I can rollerblade faster than he was driving, but he changed his tone and dramatically picked up the speed when the subject turned to his college football career.