My pants are sagging but I’m not wearing boxers.
It has been a long haul and you’d think after the flight from Puerto Williams I would have figured out this Chilean airport thing. Here I am, only an hour early and I’m still 30 minutes earlier than anyone else. As the sun rose across the Tierra Del Fuego, I recalled for a moment of my worry in Puerto Williams that I might miss my flight. No one else seemed concerned. The airline office had one desk and a wood burning stove, a cord or two of stacked wood and they sold school supplies as well. The twin Otter sat on the runway not 40 feet from the security area. Check-in was not performed in the traditional sense. You just handed over your ticket and then walked with your things around the magnetometer – which was turned off - and then outdoors onto the runway, putting everything you carried on a cart by the loading door of the plane and then quickly hopped on board – No ID required. My new Chilean friends Andres and Rodrigo were the last to board, arriving three minutes before takeoff. We were off the ground in about 100 feet, with the co-pilot looking back from time to time to be sure everything was buckled down. We headed North – for from here, there is nearly nowhere South to go. Five minutes before take-off is enough here. It’s about fifteen minutes for a real jet.
Perhaps Ferdinand Magellan was blessed by such a sunrise when he named this place the land of fire, the sun just cresting the Eastern landscape and lighting the dense shroud of clouds over the calm morning straights.
As I look now down the aisle on the plane and see the many passengers loading their things in the overhead cabins, smiling to familiar faces – it seems everyone knows everyone here - the flight attendant carrying a stack of newspapers, Chilean hugs and kisses among the flight crew – including the mechanics and baggage handlers, and the flamenco guitar playing overhead, I too am saddened about leaving.
What a great adventure this has been, with Brian and Christopher along for a good bit of it. I could ask for little more in travel companions. My computer is filled with new images, my imagination runs wild in excitement with the possibilities - new friends and new places . I am heading home. And waiting at my door will be my loyal peroita negra Kodak– who will have sat anxiously at the foot of the door since the day I left. I will again be allergic to everything, will have a gym to workout in, will have students to talk to, a fraternity to advise, rent to collect and responsibilities abounding.
It has been a long haul down here in Chile. My feet, my ankles and my back are sore. I am completely out of clean clothes. My bag is as dusty as the Chilean road. I paid as much from my overweight bag as I did my ticket. My pants are sagging but I’m not wearing boxers and I’m on my way home.