Trip Interruptus ~ Flying home early

Tuesday, November 1st ~ Quito, Ecuador

Poor Tim! He had a very rough night. I have written about his sensitivity to MSG and Free Glutamic Acid before, but here is a link with a little more information for those not up on what this entails. A few nights prior he had a reaction serious enough that I spoke to the onboard doctor. Besides the “normal” symptoms of nausea, severe cramping and explosive diarrhea, he was also running a fever which resulted in bouts of shivering and then burning up.

By that next morning he was exhausted, but OK enough to soldier through the days excursions.

Last night it once again hit with a vengeance and I helplessly listened to his moans until just before dawn when he finally dozed off. 

When in the midst of the agony, he voiced that he was uncomfortable venturing up into the Amazon where both toilets and medical help might be limited or not even available if needed. He did not want to end up in the hospital (even if there was one) in the middle of the jungle.

As sad as I was to cut our trip short, I supported his decision and we made the painful choice to go home early.

At breakfast I broke the news to Rica and Fred, and waited to meet our new Gate 1 tour guide, Santiago. My introduction went something along the lines of, “Good Morning, we need to go home”. I’m quite sure this was not how he envisioned the start of his day.

The group was scheduled to depart within the hour, which left only enough time for Santiago to call his boss, and print up a form for us to sign that we were leaving the group. He suggested that we not check out, wait in our room and he would have someone from Gate 1 contact us before 9:30.

Tim and I had left our luggage and carry-on day packs in our room since we were not planning on leaving with the group, but when we returned to our room it was GONE! In a near panic, I rushed back downstairs. Lucky for me the group was still in the lobby, along with our luggage and I was able to reclaim it.

Whew! I had visions of all of our belongings loaded in the belly of the bus and long gone…

Both of us needed to get some rest. Tim to try to recuperate, and I had been up all night with zero sleep. But not having any answers, and needing to figure out how to get us home, I decided to call the main Gate 1 office in the states to see if they could help us.

And YES, they did. After explaining the situation to a very caring lady, she put me on hold and then shortly transferred me over to the air department. Our flight choices were not grand. Originally booked to depart Ecuador on the 10th of November on Copa Airlines, we had hoped that the flight could be rescheduled with just paying a change fee.

No luck – Copa was sold out for the next two days.

Our best option to get Tim home ASAP was to take a late night Delta flight from Quito to Atlanta, clear customs and then fly on to Los Angeles. The one way flights came to $1500 for the two of us.

Transportation to the airport was arranged for us, and we would be picked up by a Gate 1 representative at 8:00 pm in the lobby. There was no charge from Gate 1 for the transfer to the airport.

Next step was to arrange to stay in our room at the Quito Hilton until time to depart for the airport. Since the hotel was not fully booked that evening, they charged us $100 (less than their daily rate) which allowed us to remain in the room until 8:00 pm.

So then we waited, rested, and ate a couple small meals at the hotel cafe. Tim was by this time scared to eat anything, but managed to have them fix two eggs (over well done) and a plate of fresh fruit. He figured it was about the safest thing for him to digest in his condition.

Well, thankfully the rest of the plans went smoothly. We got to the airport in plenty of time, flew all night, our Global Entry works well in Atlanta, connection was on time and we arrived Wednesday morning back in Los Angeles. A short wait for the FlyAway bus to Van Nuys and big grins on our face when our son picked us up.

As sad as we were to not get to see, Quito, the Amazon and the rest of Ecuador, it was the right decision. After very little sleep for over 48 hours I was a bit rummy, but glad to have Tim back home.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am reminded that there are a lot of kind people who are willing to help when you ask. The phone staff at Gate 1 could not have been more polite, helpful and accommodating.

UPDATE: Tim managed to catch a nasty cold on the way home while his resistance was down. But after a lot of rest, tons of fluids, some healthy home cooked meals, and a little pampering, he is well on his way to a full recovery.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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60 Responses to Trip Interruptus ~ Flying home early

  1. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson says:

    So glad you made it home safely and without further incident! And you are so fortunate to be able to change your plans when necessary. Here’s to good health for both of you!


  2. Tom says:

    Know it was a hard decision to make, but the right one. Glad Tim is doing well and know you’ll have fun planning your next adventure which we eagerly wait to hear about. I see a lot of negative on other forums about Gate 1’s customer service so it was good to read when things go well.


    • Although our guide did not really have the time to coordinate plans for us (the entire group was leaving via bus within an hour of meeting him), the staff we spoke with over the phone were exemplary. We have been, and will continue to be huge fans of Gate 1.


  3. munchkinontheroad says:

    You’ve been through the wars this week!
    Glad to read you’re home safe, on the mend and ready to explore another day!!


  4. Maxxtrails says:

    Its sad that your trip was cut short, but great that Tim is feeling better 😊


  5. leahlarkin says:

    I grieve for you. It is sad , but you are lucky you did enjoy the Galapagos and a bit of Ecuador. Three weeks ago we had to leave China on day 2 of an 18-day trip. I fell through — not off- a wooden bridge over a raging canal which broke when I stepped on it. I have a broken collâr bone, it was decided we should abort the trip and come We are depressed, devastated, but grateful it was not worse. I am glad you made it home safely and hope Tim is recovering. When I have the use of two hands, I will write about our misadventure on my blog,


    • Leah, I’m so very sorry to learn about your fall, and right at the very start of your trip as well. What a shock that must have been to fall through a wooden bridge! Flying home with a freshly broken bone sounds quite painful. I hope you are mending comfortably. I am sending you a gentle hug and look forward to reading more about your misadventure when you are more healed.


  6. Elaine's Bloggers Paradise says:

    So sorry to hear that you had to return home early, I wish Tim a speedy recovery and you some welcome rest. 🌹🌸🌹


  7. Mollie Hunt says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your travels and hope you continue when feeling better. There’s lots to see right here at home.


  8. says:

    terrible that you had this kind of a problem. Hoping you get well soon.


  9. Sam Moses says:

    Oh my geez!!!! Poor Tim. I remember how sensitive he was. Thank goodness you both are in the comfort of you’re home now. Hope he’s recovering quick and hanging in there. Love to you both 💕


  10. Anabel Marsh says:

    Aargh! Poor Tim (and you). Glad you got home safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ardysez says:

    Best wishes to you both. A disappointing turn of events, and one of my worst case scenarios, having digestive and food issues as well. Glad you are home.


  12. paperpopups says:

    So glad to hear you are both home safe. It was good to read he is better. My only comment is – I was surprised to read that as well as eating eggs after, he also had some fruit. I thought you were not o eat fruit in another country as is contains mostly their water – and do not drink their water. I can hope for a comment from you here, but if not, please keep writing as I love your articles.


    • He does fine with fruit with a thick skin that is peeled, for example a banana, watermelon or cantaloupe. We do not drink or even brush our teeth with the local water – only bottled water for us when we travel.


      • mike alesko says:

        Joanne, Ive been told that fruit such as melons, that have to be cut, can be contaminated by the knife as it cuts thru the peel and then into the fruit. Take care, Tim.


      • Mike, I think that is sometimes the case with street food which we avoid. Normally in a hotel such as the Hilton, they have a water filtration system in place, which helps if fruits are washed first in purified water before being cut. We also avoid ice in any drink unless we know it is from purified water. Obviously these same factors can be a problem right here in the USA, so we try to be conscientious and more careful whenever we eat out or on the road.


  13. corkscot says:

    I hope that you are now feeling better. Welcome home.


  14. Terry says:

    Oh my I am sorry to hear this. I am glad you made it home safe and he is feeling better. My late wife and I always carried travel insurance for this sort of thing. She had been sick since 2000 but never wanted to stop traveling. We were fortunate she never got sick but ended up in the hospital soon after we got home after several trips so I can really feel for what he and you went through. Please both of you take care and I am glad everything worked well on the return trip home. My best to you both.


    • Thank you very much Terry. I’m sorry to hear that your wife has passed on, but glad that she was able to continue to travel, even when Ill. That takes a great deal of grit and determination to carry off. She must have been a strong and courageous woman. Sending you a hug…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. ktkickass says:

    WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!! Thank goodness you are both home safe and sound!


    • There is still no place as comfortable as home – especially when feeling rotten. So appreciative of the kind help we received that got us safely home with a minimum of fuss. And even more appreciative that Tim is now good as new!


  16. Happy you both are home and well. Sad about part missed, but your Galapagos posts were great and we enjoyed them very much. Look forward to your next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Carolyn Dinwiddie says:

    Wow, Joanne. So happy Tim is well now.


  18. Asif says:

    Glad you have recovered Tim, being sick far away from home is not a pleasant experience!
    I remember sitting down for Lunch in a restaurant in Phnom Penh (or was it Siem Reap?) with you and Joanne, you had a index card with “No MSG” written in both Khmer script and in English and you showed that to the waiter who took your order, I later found out that MSG is used very liberally in Cambodia and Vietnam!

    One can take precautions with water, MSG in food is near impossible detect/prevent. Glad it all turned out well for you.



    • Yes, we found it a huge challenge in Vietnam to avoid MSG. They use it in almost every dish – even add it to the water when they boil their rice! Big bags of MSG are brought from the southern end of the country and given as gifts when visiting friends or relatives in the north. It is used in abundance. So far Vietnam and Ecuador have been our toughest travel destinations for that reason.


  19. ANM7 says:

    Well weighing health against the thrill of discovery, as in sight seeing, okay. Glad to see that you got home safe, attained the security of home. Home is so important though we journey. Glad to know he is on his way to recovery. Thanks for sharing your adventure with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Natalie says:

    A wise decision to return home. Health and safety first. Glad all’s well again for you both. I enjoyed reading about your trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I was in Argentina and Peru, on two different trips. Just finished posting my trip to Argentina, and will work on my Peru posts next. If you have time, please see

    Liked by 1 person

  21. So sorry you had to interrupt your wonderful Trip, Joanne, but absolutely the right decision. I’ve been caught out once or twice with no toilet facilities and serious stomach palaver and it can be horrible. My best to you and Tim, and here’s hoping he recovers quickly. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  22. So sorry to hear of Tim’s illness and that you had to cut your tour short. I hope he has recovered, and you too. It must have been a harrowing few days there. And it must have been wonderful to finally get home. There’s always next time.


  23. tigre23 says:

    Sorry to hear you had to cut your trip short but without your health, you really don’t enjoy anything. I’m glad Tim is on the mend and you are also feeling better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sue Ramos says:

    Glad that you were able to get safely home. We were on a trip to India and were scheduled to go to Kathmandu in April 2015 when the earthquake occurred. Needless to say we weren’t able to follow those plans. It’s very scary to be so far from home and have to depend on your travel agent to arrange for an unplanned early flight home. We did have insurance and highly recommend it for future travel. We had to fill out a few forms but got reimbursed for having our trip cut short.


    • Sue, you are right – travel insurance would have come in very handy to reimburse us for our unexpected flight home. That must have been quite uncomfortable being in India during an earthquake as their building standards do not come up to what we do here in California – and it was pretty darn scary here when the 1994 Earthquake hit near our home in the San Fernando Valley.


  25. Jean Nguyen says:

    Yikes!!! Looks like you guys made a very difficult decision, but the right decision. Hopefully you can go back to Ecuador soon. Love that country!

    I just read your other comment about Vietnam being difficult to travel to due to all the MSG. As a Vietnamese American, I have to agree with you! So much MSG!! Fortunately my mom is very health-conscious and doesn’t put MSG in any of her dishes. 🙂


    • I’m so glad that your mom does not put MSG in your meals. We will return to Ecuador one of these days. I still very much want to get up into the Amazon area and fill in the stops we had originally planned to visit. Our friends who continued on the journey have raved about how beautiful the country is.


  26. chattykerry says:

    I have had to fly home early from Scotland when I became unwell and KLM could not have been more helpful. Sorry about Quito, but there is always another trip.


  27. jbriggs333 says:

    Sorry to hear off your misfortunes on your trip but glad to hear all is well. 🎄


  28. So glad you got home safely – must have been a scary experience. Hope Tim is feeling much better now!


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