The January 7th trip did not have single availability, but the January 21st trip did. So, I asked my travel agent to have Alexander + Roberts take that.
We should get a confirmation in a day or two, then book flights. At a quick glance, getting to Manaus is kind of a hassle--seems like all flights arrive very late night or early AM. Seems like DEN -> MIA -> MAO on the way down, GIG (Rio) -> IAH (Houston) -> DEN on the way back.
The tour is something like 4 days on a boat puttering around the Amazon, two days around Iguazu Falls, then two days in Rio. Internal air, transfers, and hotel included ofc. So something like Jan 21st -> 30th.
I feel I must preface this by saying I've always been pretty organized, and don't understand when others aren't. When I was working, I'd always set an expectation, and if something came up, would be in communication instead of going dark.
I'm getting better at understanding, but still get frustrated.
On the 5th, Gina forwarded me an email from Alexander+Roberts showing the price for the trip broken down by each piece. She mentioned that if they can't confirm any hotel, they'll be in touch with alternatives, and that they would be closed for Columbus Day (the following Monday).
As a layman, I'm thinking: ok, Tuesday call Brazil, make hotel reservations, probably hear from them Tuesday or Wednesday.
By Thursday night, still hadn't heard. Called them up to see if I they could at least set my expectation. Nope.
Gina assures me she's worked with them for 25 years, and they're a well-run organization. Not impressed so far.
I imagine it will be fine, but not seeing why it takes > 1 week to finalize a trip. Sigh.
Things starting to come together. Made an appointment with a travel-immunization company in downtown Denver for mid-December to get my recommended Yellow Fever shot and malaria pills.
Now, I think everything that needs to be scheduled, is. Messed up a little bit with the overnight in Miami.
I'll get there ~ 8PM on the 19th, leaving for Manaus 5PM on the 20th. Booked a rental car with Hertz, and took the pre-pay, lower-cost but no refund option.
A few days after that, talked with some friends who'd just been to the Caribbean, and overnighted in Miami both ways. They stayed in a Hilton right by the airport and said it was nice. A bit upscale for my usual style, but that's ok once in a while.
Anyway, turns out the Hilton has a shuttle to/from the airport. Plus, they charge for parking.
Figure I'll still want a car for the several hours between waking and flying out to get out a little. Tried Hertz' 800 number, intending to ask whether it would be ok to leave the reservation as is, but I'll just happen to pick it up the next morning.
Not only is there no option to get to a CSR, pressing zero to do so (like a normal system) results in an "invalid option. Goodbye." message and a hang-up. Terrible, terrible, customer service.
Found a form online where I could send a message off. They said they'd answer in 3-5 business days. That was Monday, so we'll see. Worst case, I guess I stop by their desk upon arrival the night of the 19th and ask if I can just delay pick-up for ~10 hours. If they say no, I eat the parking fee. Not the end of the world.
Got a note from my travel agent today that the tour company needed to change the hotel I'm booked into in Manaus, ,because the original is having some "special event." This after they took 13 days to confirm all the bookings.
The new place looks quite nice, gets good reviews, and is only a couple blocks from the original. So, it should be a similar experience. Gina assures me I'm booked in, they are aware I'm arriving very late on the night before the official tour, and will be at the airport and have a late-night check-in ready. I'm sure it will be fine.
You're right. Travel is about having experiences and gathering stories.
Sometimes, those stories are things like "...and then the lion walked down the road, not 6 feet from the truck...", and sometimes they're "...well, ****, Lufthansa went on strike the day I was due to return..."
Brazil's re-commencing visa requirements for citizens of USA#n (and some others) as of January 10. I arrive on the 20th. I haven't been able to find anything on how to acquire a visa.
I did, however, find the website for the consulate in Houston (which services CO). This had an email link, so I wrote to them asking if they could point me in the right direction to get the process started.
They wrote a quite detailed reply. Cliffs are that they're in the processing of finding a third-party provider for an eVisa and integrating that into their site. They mentioned that it's possible that the "no visa" period will get extended, and gave me a link to watch for updates.
Third-party software integrating with a bureaucracy's website, what could go wrong?
I fully expect this to come operational the night I'm overnight in Miami, so I'll be on my own to figure it out. With the added pressure of the flight leaving in X hours. Sigh.