Well, it had to happen eventually. I firmly believe that all of us will one day morph into Michael Douglas and suffer a completely public meltdown in the sun. Whilst I was not wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and tie combo, nor did I brandish weapons, there was an “incident”. Douglas’s character in the film I am referring to, Falling Down, is, shall we say, rather appropriately named though. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

It was the last day of my trip to Ecuador. A trip I made because I needed to leave Peru in order to obtain a new visa and become a legal citizen once again. After a hectic couple of weeks work-wise, I foolishly thought the all-inclusive Royal Decameron resort in Punta Centinela would offer some welcome time to relax, bask in the sun and gulp down several swift libations. Bask in the sun and merrily make libation, I did. Relax, I did not. The reason being that on this fateful day, I was a victim of the aforementioned hotel’s chaotic checkout process. A process so disorganised, it made an Ethiopian aid drop seem ordered and disciplined.

aiddrop They say a picture speaks a thousand words but the one above just doesn’t do justice to the checkout process I endured. For one, those in the picture do not yet seem to be involved in THAT much of melee. Second, I am quite sure they were not asked to fill in a customer satisfaction survey at the height of the chaos. That said, the photo and the Royal Decameron checkout process do share some similarities. In both, people visibly scoff at the concept of a queue and instead, barge past each other while sinking the occasional elbow into someone’s ribs. In the Decameron, the action is then replicated at the outdoor storage room where guests go to retrieve their baggage before heading off to whichever destination awaits them. Presumably the zoo. Call me a mentalist but retrieving baggage from a hotel storage room is normally something I manage to accomplish with minimal fuss. On this occasion, I bore witness to guests forcing open the door of the storage room, attempting to climb over one another and in through the window before demanding that they be attended to ahead of those who had the audacity to patiently wait in line.

The point at which I finally snapped occurred when a gaggle of squawking Ecuadorians ploughed through the baying mob quicker than a column of panzer tanks on their way through France. With the bell boy urging me to collect my suitcase, there was no way that I could move because I now found my feet buried under a collection of other people’s feet. As someone with a limited grasp of the Spanish language, I quickly searched for the words needed to politely rectify the situation. All I could inappropriately muster was “mal educación” which I think means bad manners. While this was acknowledged and understood by those I’d aimed it at, they still refused to be moved and I remained trapped. Fearful that I’d miss the pending arrival of my taxi to the airport, I was faced with no choice but to physically “remove” those who saw no problem in trampling all over me before unleashing a string of English profanities as I collected my suitcase. All while hotel security stood idly by and onlookers remarked that I seemed annoyed.

I have since bought myself the ultimate breakdown momento – a Panama hat. Like the now infamous Scottish hotelier, Alex Scrivenor, I am now visualising my anger as a demon that lives in a deep dark pit and telling myself that there the demon must stay.

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