Fatal Mistake

Christmas in Antarctica originally posted by Linda Lou Burton December 17, 2005 from Santiago, Chile – The tiny screen in front of me was my lifeline. Set on GPS, it showed my location as if I were looking from the cockpit, with the jagged peaks of the Andes on my left. Other screens were map-like, with city-dots identifying the political name for what was there, our tiny-toy plane an imaginary figure above the world, creeping south. Occasionally the screen flipped to a statistics page. Velocidad. Altura. An English menu was offered but it took so long to download I decided to stick with the Spanish version. I determined we were flying at 35,000 feet with a ground speed of 508 mph.

I jotted down map-names. Trujillo. Rio Branco. Cuzco. Arequipa. Arica. Huancayo. Juliaca. La Paz. Iquique. Antofagasta. Galapagos Islands. Machu Picchu. Ascencion. Vina del Mar. Oruro. Totori. Calama. Salta. Pachacamac. Trinidad. Sucre. Copiapo. Mumahuaca. Concepcion. Cordoba. Santiago. Maldonado. Balmeceda.

I believe Balmaceda was a name Par said to me as a possible destination after Santiago. But he was not sure. I must wait and see.

They served food again after our stop in Lima. An omelet, tasty and hot, some fruit. A cinnamon cake. “You can have my melon,” Sofia said. “If I can have your grapes.” It was a perfect swap. The man on my left was sleeping. But Sofia and I talked. She was born in New York, to Argentine parents. Her father worked for Citibank so was transferred twelve times as she grew up. Elementary school in the Philippines, high school in Greece. “I followed my ex-boyfriend to LA,” she told me, “and now I do not want to leave. But I have so many choices.” “Where is your ex-boyfriend?” I asked. “He’s moved on,” was the reply.

I could not sleep. My brain was still on Seattle time. It was 10 PM when we left Lima, with three more hours to fly. Midnight, and my Friday became my Saturday, but outside it was already light.

I finally made it to Santiago, 48 hours behind schedule. I waited till the plane was nearly empty before I started down the aisle. It was 2 AM on my watch, 7 AM on the ground. Next step, get in line at Customs. Fatal mistake, waiting so long to leave the plane. There were at least 300 people ahead of me. I wished I’d slept. I wished I had water. I wished for a chair.

My next invention, a fancy-schmancy travel bag on wheels with a pop-down seat.