Saturday, January 15, 2005
Finally! I not only have my Uzbekistan visa in hand (well, it's actually in my backpack) but now I have my plane ticket as well! I fly out at 9:15am on the 18th!!!
Getting my ticket was a mess. Ended up running thru the rain for a bunch of blocks, searching for the building (had no address, only the name of the place). Found it, slipped thru the lobby and up to the 29th floor and into the Uzbekistan Airline's office. After several minutes of bumbling, I was able to get the lady behind the desk (english speaker) to understand that I needed to pick up and pay for my ticket. She pulled it up and her first comment was: "Hm. We can't sell one-way tickets."
I got one way b/c sis and I will be leaving overland thru Krgyzstan (sp?).
This response was expected and I gave her a brief overview of our plan and mentioned that I did have my Chinese visa in my passport which proved it. (I guess some people get to Uzbekistan and decide to stay illegally? In the middle of winter?) She went off and had some coffee and strumpets (she was part British) excusing herself as having to "talk to some people". Coming back she let me know that they could issue the ticket, talking as though a huge favor was being done for me (as if paying almost $600 for a one-way ticket and going to a frozen landscape to spend money wasn't favor enough?). And she told me that they take cash. Only.
Off I ran to the ATM, where I was able to take out....not enough money. In 3 goes at the machine I got out about $200. Then the machine(s) told me that a hold had been placed on my card. Crapper! I had some cash that I'd taken out the night before but was still about $10 short. Off I ran, scampering around trying to find Rachelle (we were meeting at a coffee shop. Took her too long to get ready so I left her behind as I was running late and the place closed at noon and by the time I left the hotel is was getting on after 11am) to borrow more money. Finding her quicker than expected, I rushed her to a couple different ATMs until we found one that worked and she bummed me some money.
Falling back into the airline's office at 12:15 (people were leaving) I tossed the cash at the woman, grabbed the ticket and took off running....only to be stopped. I had forgotten my change!! I left with some advice from her (she's been there) and a ticket and visa! And plenty of excitement!