I am sitting in the Calgary airport and we have just passed 24 hours on the road home from Santiago, Chile. It will be about 30 hours by the time we get in our door.
We have an afternoon flight out of Santiago. Can’t sleep in even though we know there is no way to miss our plane. Up at six and go for one more walk around downtown. I am still amazed at how busy this city is.
The ride to the airport takes us through a part of town we did not get to. The area looks like more of an average neighbourhood. The shops that line the street are more everyday kind of shopping. It doesn’t look too sketchy and in fact there are a couple of nicer hotels along the route.
The airport is a breeze. No line up at immigration, no line at security, no assigned gate. The gate appears on the board and when we get there we are the only ones in the lounge. I guess people don’t pay too much attention to the “arrive 2 hours early” instruction. The next folks to arrive have been traveling all night from Australia. They are a little worse for wear but most have only the leg to Lima to go so the suffering is about to end. A woman, A, sits next to us and we start chatting. It is a small world. This lady is professor of genetic engineering at Griffith University and will most likely teach D, the daughter in law we just visited, in the next couple of years. She was at the front end of what the Aussies call long service leave. A three month paid holiday as a reward for 10 years service. Sounds like a good thing!
Not sure why but we are seated in Premier Economy Class for our flight from Santiago to Lima. Two people per three seats and could be the best meal (a tender steak) I have had on an airplane and really nice, entertaining host. He even magically produces a piece of Lindt’s finest when Debbie makes a joking request for chocolate. This may become a habit!
A major bump in our progress awaits us in Lima. After 6 hours of airport benches. We are informed the flight to Houston will be a little late. The official word is one of the lights on the control panel is malfunctioning. Funny though, the pilots do not arrive at the gate until a 1/2 hour after we are supposed to board. Cynical me, I think the malfunction of which they speak is a human light. Our flight is now 1 hour behind schedule and we have a close connection in Houston. Sleeping on the airplane is never that great but we manage 4 or 5 hours which will be of great benefit in the next two legs of our journey. The pilots gumboot it and we make up all but 10 minutes of the lost time. It is a rush but we make the gate for our flight to Calgary with 6 minutes to spare.
On the flight from Houston to Calgary we are seated next to a most personable fellow. HB is on his way to Banff from Dallas via Houston and Calgary. He is to meet a friend on a later plane and head straight to the mountains. They want to do some hiking. He is young, as shown by my next statement. It is Friday and they are headed back home to work on Monday. 7 hours each way on the plane and 2 hours driving each way for a weekend, we “older folks” don’t do that anymore. We arrive in Calgary and it is snowing, the ground is white. These two fellows are in for a couple of chilly hikes.
I don’t know what is up but the Calgary security folks are being a pain. I get asked twice if the only liquids I have are in the one litre bag and for the first time ever I am asked to put my iPad in a separate basket. Debbie also brought up the fact that the immigration guy’s casual conversation is very much a phishing trip. Without being blunt he is trying to find out why we had REALLY gone to Bolivia. Don’t people travel just to see things anymore? I guess we are sadly behind the times traveling for curiosity when we could find out all we need to know on the net?????
Most of our travel is spent in countries where English is not the main language. For the last 3 weeks it has been Spanish. It is not something that is obvious but the noise all around us is a din, the conversations are a sound but we understand very little and the words are not discernible. I didn’t realize it but it is also the case in the US as everyone is speaking English but with an American accent and we hear it as sort of a drone. This only becomes apparent to me when we board a Canadian plane in Calgary. All of a sudden I hear stories not just from one voice but from all directions and I understand every word that is going on around us. The subtle differences are easy on our ears.
We’re home now. We will pick up our routine and it will soon be as if we have never left.