I departed from Sacramento at an hour that should not exist, and from there, to Houston, and then to Mexico City, and finally, boarded the plane to Santiago.
I think I managed to sleep only about an hour the night before leaving — ah, the joy of nerves and red-eye flights. Thus, today, I found myself nodding off any time I sat still for more than ten seconds (which is a situation that arises with uncommon frequency when one is traveling by plane). On my first flight, I don’t even remember the plane taking off, so conked was I. I would wake up long enough to order a Coke, and then I’d be back to cramped plane-sleeping; I might awake with a knee or neck in stabbing pain, readjust, and re-conk.
I revived temporarily with a godly bagel and smoothie at Houston. Then on to the next flight, where my row-mate alternated feeble coughing with snorting out through her nose rhythmically. I slept, once more, and awoke to a complete lack of ground outside the plane window: just the blue vastness of the Pacific Ocean, upon which I could even see a few distant waves. I was delighted when they brought me a complimentary airline sandwich, oddly touched by a service which has been eliminated from many airlines.
My Spanish had its first real test at the Mexico City airport: I braved customs, immigration, flight check-in, etc., and nobody seemed to mind my fumbling too much. Then, I realized that I was starving to death and might soon die, so I wolfed my bag-contents (an apple and three FiberOne bars) because I was too intimidated to go ask the store-cashiers if they’d take my American debit card. This airport was an odd one: the decor seems to consist of cutting methodical round holes in all of the walls and ceilings, so that just enough light slips through that it feels perpetually darkened. There were also small battalions of air conditioning units (circular, of course) which prompted me put on more and more layers and curl up smaller and smaller during the four-hour layover.
The final leg of my journey was on a different, more españolish airline called LAN. Our plane was glorious: three columns wide, with big squishy chairs that reclined back a whole 15º (instead of the standard 3º), and with a free personal entertainment network in the seatback. I watched about half of Hanna in Spanish. Then they brought us more airline food, this time in multi-part dinner trays, and then they offered us free wine, and airline coffee, and… I found it difficult to turn down anything they offered because it was such a pleasant change from the “here’s a packet of crackers” approach of many U.S. airlines. I fiddled with the chair’s music library, and then sheathed myself in blankets and pillows to try and sleep.