Well, the glorious trip of a lifetime certainly started in a memorable, if frustrating, fashion. All I had to do was get from downtown Boston to Logan international airport, a trip that takes 20 minutes on a good day, 30 when there's traffic. From the airport it should be a saunter up to the American Airlines check-in, a ten-minute wait to get past security and then time for a pizza and a look through the bookshop.
That's the theory anyway.
I didn't count on it taking an hour to get from the Logan Airport T-Stop (what Boston calls the underground/subway) to terminal B. Hefting my pack and wading through hip deep donkey droppings would have got me to the terminal quicker and in better mood than waiting for the non-existent bus. Eventually a bus was press-ganged into duty, which inched through the clogged construction site-that-is-Logan. The hour journey was a frustrating way to spend Friday afernoon-down-the-pub time.
My woes were not about to end anytime soon. The queue to get though airport security was literally the length of the terminal (this, after forty minutes checking-in). Four minutes it took, just to walk the length of the three deep queue. Boarding time slipped past ominously until salvation came in the form of a soldier stalking the line for those with imminent departures. Mine was past immanent. Before the scrutiny of the metal detector, a well presented soldier interrogated me politely; "Mace, pepper spray, bombs or used condoms?" he asked, I made the last two up, but the gleam in his eye told me he would have said that if there had been time for a chat and a beer down the pub afterwards.
What chaos. Every flight seemed to be delayed. Paris, London and sods law, Miami. What with random screaming of passengers and not even boarding until forty minutes after we were meant to depart the final piece of bad luck struck. Sitting on the tarmac, waiting to go, the pilot informs us that "somebody with dubious credentials" had been refused entry to the aircraft and detained and that his baggage was now being removed from the hold. Do you know how long that takes? I'll tell you, figure 10 minutes before we were told that we were being delayed and another 15 before we got the all clear. Apparently we were lucky because the whereabouts of the bags were known!
Climbing steeply into the sky we were treated to a spectacular view of Rhode Island and Providence. Twinkling lights outlined the coast, which we started to follow south.
A new trick I've learned whilst flying on American is that when the refreshments trolley comes past, you ask for "tea with a small amount of milk". You have to do this in a British accent. You get noticed, the stewardess goes all shivery and you get excellent service from then on. The only drawback is that you have to keep saying quaint things every time the stewardess passes. This flight was no different ;-)
Wow, what a view you get of Miami on a nighttime approach. Wish the landing was as good.
With exactly two minutes to make my flight transfer, I realised that I was going to be delayed again. A quick train to the main terminal followed by everything but a cavity search to get into my departure terminal. Here the soldiers let you see their guns.
Sitting down at my departure lounge, I heard some fellow passengers talking. I knew I was in trouble again. I don't speak a sodding word of Spanish and I realised that those I do learn will be rendered useless by the sheer speed of the language is spoken. Heck, if I can survive three weeks in the cold of northern China which just a smattering of Mandarin, I must be able to survive in Chile, mustnít I?
Changing my watch to Chilean time, I've skipped to two o'clock tomorrow, so day one is over. I'm knackered and there is still 7 hours flying time ahead. Ummmmm, I smell dinner cooking and there's the refreshments trolley, time to drink too much wine.