Where is your visa?

Trip Start Feb 04, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the morning we flew out of Quito bound for L.A. The line to check in was very long, due to the flight being delayed and connections being missed, many people were rescheduling. The plane stopped in Miami which is a hub for flights from South America flying to another destinations within the U.S.

When we got to the counter the lady asked us for our visa numbers. Visa, what visa?! Both of us had travelled to the U.S previously, several times and had not required a visa? Both of us have passports from countries where the visa is waivered? We learned then, that a new regulation was in place from last year, which requires visa waivered people to apply for a visa waiver online and get an 'Etsa'.

The lady told us to go to an internet cafe and apply for one. Fortunately there was an internet cafe next door, as we now had less than 30 minutes before boarding. We applied very quickly for the Etsas, which cost $14usd each. Fortunately they didn’t take long to get, we printed them, then ran back to the check in desk. By then there was no queue as everyone was boarding the plane. We rushed through security, cutting queues because our flight was boarding right now!.. and ran through the terimal to get to the gate in time. Made it in the end!

In Miami we had to collect our bags and drop them off again before they could go onwards to our final destination (only in U.S!) - it was a bit of hassle. We arrived in L.A late in the evening. At 11pm we picked up our rental car from Alamo cars. Car rental is quite cheap in L.A. We rented a nice car with a GPS for less than 60USD, for 2 days.

That night we had arranged to stay with a couch surf host named Garick. This was to be our first Couchsurf experience and we were looking forward to getting to know someone who lived in the city we were visiting.

We were suppose to bring our own sheets, but didn’t have time to buy some in Quito. So we did a last minmute search on our iphones for the nearest shop that could possibly sell sheets. We found a Walmart but it closed 10 minutes before we arrived, they told us to go to Walgreens. We drove there but they didn’t sell sheets. Oh well, it was too late now to do any more shopping.

We met Garick at his flat in Brentwood. He’s an interesting guy, born and grew up in L.A, had many jobs, travelled many places, is a social media guru and had something to say and an informed opinion about absolutely everything. It was late when we arrived, but he was still nice enough to stay up with us, conversing until 2am, even though he had to work early the next day!
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