Most of our past adventures have been within the United States, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, cycling across America, and RV’ing to National Parks for a year. Our departure for Chile is the first international adventure for our family. We’ve learned many lessons and faced many challenges through the planning and execution, and we’ll share those stories in subsequent posts.
Fresh on our mind today is the travel experience of the last 24 hours, flying 5,000 miles through the night from North Carolina to Santiago.
We checked six bags for our flight, loaded down with our clothes, shoes, medicines, gear, and school supplies for a year of virtual schooling. Checking bags was a stressful moment for me, as I was certain at least one of these bags wouldn’t make it to Chile, especially the oversized ones that needed special handling. In the commotion, I left my Delta Skymiles American Express in the kiosk pictured above, realizing I didn’t have it once we got to our layover in NYC. Good start to the journey.
Soon after making our way through security, Katie and the kids encountered their first travel mishap. Katie had repeatedly instructed Wilson to tie his shoe, which he did not. On the down escalator leaving security, Wilson suffered the fear all of our parents have warned us about since the invention of escalators. The stairs snagged his shoelace, and he was stuck at the base of the moving escalator. People coming down the escalator began backpedaling up the moving stairs, but people at the top continued filing onto the stairs. Screams rang out in the airport. People fell on the stairs, tumbling with their bags onto Wilson. A passerby ran forward and stomped the emergency stop button with his foot, and soon everyone was back on their feet and Wilson was mortified.
We made it onto the planes. A short ride to NYC followed by a 10 hour overnight flight to Santiago. Santiago is aligned to US eastern time for much of the year, and so we didn’t lose or gain hours on the flight. We left at 8pm and landed at 6am the next morning.
After finally arriving at our house in Santiago with all of our bags, we had one goal. Walk to the nearest grocery store to get a couple days of food. Without major incident, we had our groceries and returned to the house for an afternoon of recovery.
The biggest surprise for me on our travels today was the limited English spoken by those on the airline and in and around the Santiago airport. Likely due to my American-centric biases, I assumed there would be decent English within the groups of people working every day with international travelers. Not so. We had to put our fledging Spanish skills to work to order food on flights, make our way through the Covid clearance and PCR testing process, and arranging our ground transportation.