Thursday, February 18, 2010
One Family's Journey: El Dorado Airport
El Dorado Airport can be crazy. CRAZY I tell you. You need to go three hours before you flight. It doesn't always take three hours but many, many times I've gone three hours before my flight and barely made it to the gate on time. This is especially true if you are going on an early morning flight. Here's what you can expect when you leave the country.
1) Bring with you a copy of the Sentencia and the birth certificate. Our facilitator made us a little airport packet. Immigration will ask to look at this, sometimes they keep it! (Yet another reason to get lots of notarized copies of everything). It is their right to do that.
2) There are some weird airport exit taxes in Colombia, sometimes they are included in your ticket, sometimes not. I don't understand the rules and never have, but regardless the airport personnel will help you figure it out. They usually send you to get your passport stamped at this special "Impuestos" window and then sometimes you don't have to pay. This is a good thing!
3) Because of the drug trade security is sometimes REALLY tight at El Dorado. I mean drug-sniffing guns, take everything single thing out of your tightly packed suitcase -- by hand. The last few times we went it hasn't been too strict. The first time I went everything in my suitcase was touched by at least two people.
4) When you get in line you will be interviewed by somebody before you get your boarding pass. They will ask you where you've been etc. This is standard procedure for everyone leaving the country.
5) Once you get your boarding pass you can proceed to the International gates. Here you will pass through a security screen and then customs. And then another security screen. If you have a little time to kill there are lots of cafes and even a Crepes and Waffles on the second floor of El Dorado. We took the time to visit with our friends and hosts Andres and Maritza at Juan Valdez before our tearful goodbye.
6) There will be one last security screen to enter the waiting room for your flight and then you are on your way. Good job CAMPEONES!