Goodbye Ecuador.. or so I thought. Eating an egg sandwich on the go in my taxi with Hector the enthusiastic driver this morning, I was absolutely sure that I was was about to swap the chilly Quito air for the lowlands of tropical Costa Rica. I popped down from Central America on this expensive little side trip flight to see my cousin and her friends. We’ve had a grand time and I headed to the airport this morning with my flight deets and passport ready to fly back to CR and cycle for another week before heading home for work. I handed over my passport to the woman at the Avianca desk and she said to me ‘where’s your yellow fever certificate?’. My heart skipped a beat because I was in the dark about this requirement. I told her that if I got wifi I could maybe find a screenshot on an email from the shot I got six years ago. She told me I would need to take it to a hospital for an official stamp. I had no idea I needed a yellow fever cert to go from Ecuador to Central America. Apparently Ecuador is considered a high risk country, but not according to countries like Australia and America. I checked in, got the woman to write out a paragraph of exactly what I needed in Spanish, got some wifi and tried to call mum and dad on Facebook in the middle of the Australian night, I even had a friend in country trying to call them so that they could pull a case of docs out from under my bed and send a screenshot of my yellow fever vaccination. It didn’t work. And I couldn’t find a screenshot in my emails. I ran out to the taxi stand and went to the hospital empty handed thinking I could convince them I’ve got the shot and show them an old Brazilian visa because thats a country you need to have had the yellow fever shot to travel in. I had about 45 minutes until my flight was going to close the front desk and the Avianca attendant told me it would be enough time. The first hospital she had recommended couldn’t help me with a shot or a certificate, and neither could the second, or the third. Finally my incredibly helpful taxi driver and I found a vaccination centre that does yellow fever shots on Fridays that was located in the middle of a busy suburb next to a fruit market. I sat inside with mothers breastfeeding and babies crying. This almost set me off again- I’d burst into tears at the first hospital when they told me we had come to the wrong place- back then I thought I might still make it onto the flight. However, by this time I knew I would miss my flight, but I was realising I needed this document to leave this country at all, even if I were to bus up to Costa Rica and boat over the Darian Gap. This was a real consideration because I’d checked the price of a flight change to tomorrow morning and it was a ridiculous USD$450. Part of the condition of travel to Central America from Ecuador is that you need to have had the shot ten days before your flight, and the Avianca attendant had requested in written Spanish for the nurse to write a date from a fortnight earlier. The nurse flat out refused. I completely understood, and through teary eyes she quickly jabbed my arm and whipped up a familiar international vaccinations booklet with the all important yellow fever entry. We went back to the airport, I gave my driver USD$30 for his help and went to see the Avianca attendents. I still couldn’t travel with this yellow fever booklet because of the date of the shot, and the ladies told me I could just change it. They found a single space on the flight tomorrow morning for $160 so I bagged it and then as the receipt came through they inspected the yellow fever booklet more closely and told me it wasn’t official enough to travel with because the year was written in pen rather than stamped. Then came the offer that a doctor could come to the airport for $USD100 and give me a new document with a date from ten days before. Classic bribery fixes everything but you need to be pretty cashed up to play games like this. The tears came again, I had just paid for the flight change and now they were whacking another $100 onto it. I’ve already spent $60 on taxis and lost my flight. Mum and dad will wake up in a few hours and hopefully send through my yellow fever certificate. The avianca manager will arrive at 4 this arvo and inspect whether I can travel with a photo copy or not. It’s midday and I have to wait for my flight that is leaving in seventeen which I may or may not be able to catch. Quito is two hours by public transport so I’m sitting tight at the airport. I think it’s time for a milkshake.