Notes from a Chilean Airport

I’m sitting next to Gate 20 at Pudahuel airport in Chili – an unfortunate name, I’ve deemed, with its close proximity to puta (whore) and huele (smells). Lo siento, I don’t speak Spanish.

Psh, yeah right. My Spanish has been randomly the fleekiest it’s been in the past three years, as I’m out here asking if Chilean Starbucks has soy milk, why Gate 21, my gate, is sectioned off by a security door, and if my checked bag is still here or if it ya se fue (it already left) to São Paulo.

Without me.

Cuz I missed my flight. And it wasn’t my fault. My flight was delayed two hours in LA, which made me miss my connection here in Chili – typical struggle of any frequent flyer. The good news, however, is that since my first flight was delayed two hours, I was given a $25, yes $25, lunch voucher because of the inconvenience. And inconvenience it sure was, that I had to eat two lunches, because due to the fact that my flight was delayed, I ran to go get lunch with a friend just before.

While on board, I did what was expected of me (and Jo) and accomplished nothing I said I was going to do for 10 hours and 45 minutes. I did manage to catch up on two episodes of KC Undercover, Spongebob Squarepants in Portuguese, Phineas and Ferb, The Americans, and How to Train Your Dragon. Successful in-flight binge, I would say. As many of you probably know, when you’re confined to seat 14C for nearly eleven hours, your mind starts wondering. Mine wondered about why we enjoy carbonated beverages, how I’m literally flying 30,000 in air, and lastly who decided what each letter of the alphabet should look like? Who designed the letter a? Why does it look that way? What made the “designers” decide it should look like a circle with a stem instead of three lines like an “H?” I realized it really doesn’t matter, but appreciated that my mind questioned something so obvious and accepted in daily society. The thought ended with me thinking that if I were to ever go back to school, I’d be a Linguistics major. Deep.

A number of other odd occurrences occurred on-board, like the woman next to me who was clearly a Spanish speaker, but refused to speak to the flight attendant in Spanish – that was weird, but I don’t know her story, so let me move on. I also purchased a $6 travel-sized contact solution, only to fall asleep with my contacts in and forget to use it – which then caused me to wake up with gross eye puss that now turned into an eczema-like rash near my left eye.

We arrived at 9am, which was also the boarding time of my next flight. I got this. Or so I thought. Then we waited, and waited, and waited for the pilot’s “ding-ding” sound, letting us know we could all jump up at once to get our bags. But nope, we waited some more. Police officers came on board and in a dramatic scene straight out of a movie, they go to the back row and pick up a shaggy-haired man with sunglasses, somewhat reminiscent of Hagrid, and escorted him off the plane. Again, odd.

layover at pudahuel airport in santiago

I finally ran off my flight, being that guy with anxious energy two seconds away from screaming OUT OF THE WAY, PEOPLE! I HAVE A FLIGHT TO CATCH HERE! which I should have done, because as I ran through the lengthy Connecting Flights hallway and find my gate, my sprint turns into a sludge as I see the gate attendant closing the door.

IN SPANISH

Hi, my flight was delayed, but I’m here. Is this flight still boarding? It says Last Call.

– *Points to an airplane taxiing down the tarmac*

– That’s your flight. Are you Damon?

Yes, that’s me.

– We already put you on the next flight.

Ah, seriously? And my checked bag? Is it on that flight or my new one?

– Sir, yes, it was held back, but in any case you put your address on it right?

Oh. Yeah, yeah sure. *walks away*

And as I slowly inched away from the gate desk, fully knowing I forgot to put my address on my bag, and that it was about to be lost forever, the travel agent says,

Damon, your travel voucher? Here’s a travel voucher for $12.

My itinerary may be off to a delayed start, but at least it’s started off with two grande soy lattes and free airport meals as a consolation prize.

Brazil, I’m coming…eventually!

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