Last Friday I said goodbye to my mother and home country after a wonderful vacation, the perfect mix of watching the soccer matches of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 and spending time with my loved ones. Nonetheless, I couldn’t leave without some drama at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.
My flight, JetBlue 1784 to Orlando, was scheduled to depart at 7:04 a.m. After my son and I checked our bags on time, the airline rep advised me to enter the emigration area to avoid delays.
As usual, I didn’t listen, and instead went to McDonald’s to satisfy one last craving: pancakes for my son and the Colombo-American breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomato and onions, sausage, and corn-cakes.
When we made it to the emigration area at 5:50 a.m., there were at least 300 people in front of us, and like my Granny says, the “way of the cross” began. We had less than an hour to cross the security checkpoint, and the line barely moved like a snail on a tree branch.
Once we passed the X-Ray machines at 6:50 a.m. my son and I ran as if we were being chased by a T-Rex. We had to cross the entire international terminal, all the way to the last door, number 54.
In the middle of our marathon, a couple of airport officials met us and asked me, “Are you on the JetBlue flight? Spadafora?” Without stopping I answered, “Yes!” with anguish in my voice, so they radioed the people at the gate, “The lady and the kid are on their way!“
When we entered the aircraft, the stewardesses offered us a couple of bottles of water, a passenger cheered for us, and the rest looked at us with disbelief. Once we were in our seats, my son and I looked like racehorses after crossing the finish line. A couple of minutes later, the door closed and the plane took off.
That night, from the comfort of my home, I looked up data about the El Dorado airport trying to understand the delay, and the statistics speak for themselves.
Operated by OPAIN, a consortium composed of Colombian construction and engineering firms and the Swiss company Flughafen Zürich AG–operator of the Zurich International Airport–El Dorado is the most important airport in Latin America in terms of cargo, the second busiest in terms of aircraft movements, and the third busiest in terms of passenger traffic.
In summary, in 2017, El Dorado served almost 31.000.000 passengers, 770.000 tons of cargo, and 304.330 aircraft movements.
Reading the above surprised me because I just didn’t know how important El Dorado Airport is. I also understood the ignorant comments made by a Dutch soccer commentator after the Colombian victory over Poland on June 24th.
Dripping with disdain, the sportscaster spoke about the means used by my fellow Colombians, who attend the World Cup in Russia in astounding numbers, and suggested they were proceedings of Pablo Escobar trafficking era.
If we play by the same rules, I could also suggest that he is a cocaine addict based on his thorough affirmations, but I choose not too.
Undoubtedly, this sport announcer doesn’t know Colombia is the fourth economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Much less will he know that El Dorado has been named the best airport in South America by World Airports Awards in 2016 and 2017, that it received four-star certification, and its staff was rated the best in South America by Skytrax, the British firm in charge of rating airports and airlines around the world.
Compared with the commentator’s country, the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport barely gets the fifth place in the European terminals rating.
Although Colombia has several hurdles to jump to become a developed country, it has achieved amazing progress in the last three decades and evidence of that is the new commercial infrastructure built all over the nation. Besides, Pablo Escobar’s remains are nothing but dust.
In conclusion, regardless if the world is not ready to see Colombia with different eyes, pass the drug trafficking, we Colombians are already making El Dorado a reality, not only the airport but the legend of a wonderful land.
Thanks for reading and sharing.