I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the river and think about the last three horrible days. In a nut shell, our Frontiers group flight gets canceled in L.A. We check-in the next morning at the Virgin Australia counter for our flight to Brisbane only to find out that we have lost our seats and have been moved to the very back of the bus. No problem the smiling agent says you will get a refund. We don’t want a refund we want the seats that we paid for. Fourteen hours later in horrible seats we find ourselves in Brisbane, but now we have missed our connection to Christchurch on the South Island and are re-routed to Auckland on the North Island. A six hour layover in Auckland and we fly to Christchurch. We think finally our troubles are over. Wrong! We stand and wait for our luggage and watch as other passengers pick up bags and finally the light comes on and a message says all of the luggage has arrived. We stand in line for an hour waiting our turn to describe what our lost bags look like and to show our bag claim tickets. No problem the agent says the bags will arrive on a later flight and will be delivered to our fishing lodge. It won’t do any good to argue and besides, she didn’t lose the bags, so we leave
We arrive at Riverview Lodge feeling anything but fresh, but fortunately John and Robin Gemmell were aware of our situation and Robin quickly shopped and had shorts, T-shirts and socks waiting for us. A quick shower and I’m on the phone to Virgin only to be told that our bags are still in LA. As host, I get to face the group with the bad news. They have already have lost a day of fishing, spent way too many hours in the air yet somehow they understand and are going to make the best of it. I get on the phone with Frontiers and ask for help, they get on it. I then get Robin involved and she gets on the phone from her end. I can only think that the squeaky wheel gets the grease first.
After a couple of hours we get good news. Virgin says the bags are in the country. Amazing. A short two hours ago we were told that the bags were still in LA. The Virgin supervisor says not to worry, the bags will be at the lodge tomorrow morning by 8:00 a.m. at the latest. The next morning at 8 a.m., breakfast is over and outside in the parking lot our guides are patiently waiting. We call Virgin and get a new supervisor, who advises us our bags have not yet cleared customs. So, we call customs and the bags have been released. Back to Virgin. The bags will be here before noon. Robin and John appear with compete sets of tackle and gear for our guests. We watch as guides and anglers head out for the day and we continue to wait and hope. Low and behold, about noon a bright red van arrives packed to the gills with our bags. The ordeal is over. I look over at Barry and he is smiling and, like he always does, reminds me of Sir Richard Burton, the great British explorer, who missed a boat in Africa and had to wait a year for the next boat to take him home. I thought for a moment and our situation didn’t seem so bad.
So I open my eyes and look ahead and say a quick thank you prayer and then John Gemmell points and I know he has found a fish for me. It’s time to play the game.
To be continued……