2 April, 2003
I landed in Santiago, Chile this morning and was routed through customs and immigrations by the guides that take care of the personnel on their way to Antarctica. They have a list of names and know exactly who to look for when the plane disembarks. I was told I would have to be very flexible on this trip and to expect the unexpected. I've told my researchers and the TEA Program directors all along that I am a third grade teacher and no one can be more flexible than that. Well, I got my first trial as soon as we landed. The guides could not find my luggage. It appears that it was misplaced somewhere and would have to be located. No problem. They explained that as soon as it was found, they would forward it to me in Punta Arenas. Actually, they found it before I ever left the airport so that was a relief. From the international terminal, they whisked me away to the domestic flight I was to catch that would get me Punta Arenas, Chile.
Fortunately, I slept a lot on all of my flights. That helped a lot with the jet lag. I landed in Punta Arenas late in the afternoon. I was taken to the Isla Rey Jorge Hotel. (It is a beautiful hotel on the port side of town.) I could not have been given a better reservation! I checked in and began to settle in- until I noticed that the luggage placed in my room was not mine! It was the luggage of another colleague on his way to Antarctica staying at another hotel! So, here we go with the luggage again. I was able to freshen-up and rest while local problem solvers were handling the luggage. (One of the researchers told be I had severely deteriorating luggage karma.)
Later that evening, I went to Santino's for dinner with a group of scientists also headed to Antarctica. Supper was the usual Chilean cuisine; good, but uneventful. The unforgettable part of the evening began on the way back to the hotel. Everyone heading for Antarctica had been placed in three different hotels. I was staying in one separate from the others. As we dispersed for the evening, I was walking by myself back to my hotel, but it seems I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended in I-don't-know-where. I decided the best decision to make would be to retrace my steps and go back where I started. I went into a hotel close to the restaurant where several colleagues were staying. I spoke to the gentleman at the desk, explained who I was, and asked directions to my hotel. I was only about four blocks away! He was excellent at giving directions and I made it back in no time at all. I'm glad I got lost in a way, because it made me stop, think, and keep my head in a foreign country where I speak very little of the language. If I can handle a situation like that and find my way, then I should be fine anywhere.
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