Ahh... tantas cosas a contar...
Oops, was that Spanish?
It was a very interesting trip. Saying good-bye at the airport was much easier this time, with no tears... at least on my part. After going through security I glanced back to see a man putting his shoes back on, wondered briefly, walked on in my own untouched footwear. The signs for my terminal number sent me down to a basement level. It would have been boring to sit where one couldn't see takeoffs and landings except that the doors were occasionally open to let in plenty of noise, especially when those two military jets zoomed past, almost too loud to bear! We passengers boarded our dinky Canadian jet by stairs, you know, like the president, except for some reason they forgot the cameramen. And I was going to include take-off videos, but some de-bug program isn't working at the moment. The flight from Des Moines to Atlanta was perfect, beautiful, scenic all the way. Here's what Iowa looks like from a couple thousand feet up. If you look hard enough you might find the blacktop road in that photo. Yep, those are clouds.
The Atlanta airport was a little bigger, even had a 'train', which was more like a subway, my first since Paris six or so weeks ago. As soon as we got to the international terminals there was more Spanish than English. The Boeing 767 flight from Atlanta to Santiago was very long, longer than from Paris to home, but seemed a lot shorter. Could be because – you're never going to believe this – I actually slept on the plane! - nearly THREE HOURS! Not consecutively, but it still deserves capitals. I had a window seat... here are the Andes, not sure if the white is cloud or sea. Two more.
Santiago was a long wait of around four hours, most of it spent sitting in Terminal 15 as directed, wanting to fall asleep without missing the flight, waiting for some flight agent to come around, till 45 minutes before departure I decided to check and was redirected to 16 just in time to go plead for a boarding pass and get on the waiting 777. This one was operated by Air France, since Buenos Aires was just a stop on the way to Charles de Gaulle in Paris (thought about stowing away... French was sounding pretty beautiful by then...). You could tell it was Air France by the trim hair-up flight attendants and the four-course lunch they served us plus bread offered twice. Too bad they didn't have time to serve us coffee because some pilot got us to Buenos Aires faster than intended.
The Buenos Aires airport was a little easier than Paris but with a super-long line for customs (why didn't we have to go through customs in Paris?), baggage much faster. Then I headed out to find the man from church who was supposed to pick me up and saw a sea of waiting people, many with names on signs. Thank the Lord that just before I began feeling very lost, Carlos found me. He drove me back on huge six-laner BA avenidas to Silvina's house in a bumpy little manual that refused to start up the two times he stopped (in town and at Silvina's).
BA is one of those places where our study abroad program arranges for students to stay with host families, in this case with members of the same church. Silvina is a single girl ('single lady' makes her sound too old) with a lovely little apartment which she shares with another girl, Emilse, and now me. It is all ground level with tall ceilings except for a little staircase up to a room just my size.
The first evening was tough. Everything was new (duh), I couldn't understand much Spanish and could speak even less. However, some friends from Grace came over to visit and we had a good chat. Next afternoon was better after sleeping extremely late. Speaking of sleep, I'm getting into some great habits. Bedtime averages around midnight, with past 2 a.m. twice in one week and till-noon sleep-ins when possible... the schedule probably won't change much because church is at 6 p.m. on Sunday and none of my classes are before 1 p.m., with Wednesday and Friday completely free. We're two hours ahead of Central in the States so I figure I'm just keeping to my normal Iowa schedule.
Well, what do you know... the first week here has passed. How did that happen?