Read the Beginning of the story first.
Warning: this is a long post.
As I walked off the plane on my return flight from southern Chile to Santiago I realized that in a little less than 24 hours I would need to be back at the airport again. When I got back to my house in Santiago I began to pack and to plan and to write lists. My host mom fluttered about asking how she could help. It was quite nice having her to call the pastor and to make sure everyone understood everything. After forcing myself to go to sleep that night, I woke up late the next morning and got on the metro to go meet a friend.
We were going to go shopping, believe it or not. But I had to have a new dress to be married in for the ceremony in Idaho since it would be too informal for my lovely wedding dress. This friend got to go because she peeled the truth out of me and got to be one of 3 people in Chile who knew that: A. I was going back to the states for a few days (well I suppose my study abroad program knew that), more specifically, B. I was going to get married while there, and C. that I was getting married at all. All of it was top-secret on a need to know basis.
This friend (Kate from Iowa, if you want to refer back to my birthday post) I had promised to hang out with her the second half of spring break since she and I would both be grounded in Santiago due to financial reasons. I had to tell her I would not be able to hang out with her after all because I was going back to the states for a few days. She asked if it was bad. I said no, of course not. And she asked if I was getting married. Ever observant girl that she is.
We then decided that she and I would go shopping the next day for a dress. She helped me buy it as a wedding present and insisted that it be white. It was lovely and perfect. and Israel liked it.
After shopping that day I went back home, finished my packing, had a quick meal and then my host-mom dropped me off at the metro station. I had found out earlier that I could take the metro and a bus to the airport and then I wouldn’t have to pay a cab. so I pulled my carry-on and my backpack through a couple stations. Bought a two-way bus ticket for 5 dollars and was on my way to the airport.
I couldn’t help but get there quite early as a result of the usual airport thing, a slight uncertainty about the exact time of departure (I had two different times an hour apart on two different receipts and the website), and something that I will attribute to pre-wedding jitters. I think my flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30 and I got there around 6:45. I made my way through lines and security and went to wait at my gate. I had about 2 hours before boarding.
I waited at the wrong gate for about an hour, experienced a slightly strange moment while the ground rocked and I realized that we were experiencing tremors, and then moved myself to wait at the correct gate.
After about an hour and a half of waiting and watching the people in need of special assistance be loaded onto the plane things began to be a little frenzied around the gate. The flight and gate attendants had a heated discussion. They de-boarded all the people who had pre-boarded and then they made an announcement that the flight was canceled. The pilot was sick and American Airlines had no replacements in Chile at that moment.
You can’t even begin to imagine my horror as I thought about being stuck in Santiago, the wedding never working out, and how to tell the people in the states that my flight was cancelled! I didn’t cry at that point. but I was very close to tears. This was the first leg (9 hours) of my trip that had two more planes after this one. I was scheduled to leave wednesday at 9:30, get to Boise thursday at 3:30 and be married thursday at 4:30. Oh catastrophe.
I skipped waiting in line at the gate, desperately tried to find somewhere with internet to notify my people, failed, called my host mom and then followed the crowd of people back through customs and to the ticketing counter where there was already a long line of people hoping to be rescheduled. The point where I almost started crying was when the customs agents tried to insist that I have some paperwork filled out to re-enter the country. I managed to make it clear to them that I had not left the country…or the airport for that matter…and that my flight had been canceled.
In Chile after going through customs you go through a big double set of automatic doors where you are greeted on the other side by taxi and van drivers trying to fill their car and make some money. That is where I cried and escaped up the stairs back to the ticketing counter as quickly as I could. After that I don’t think I actually cried. so that was good.
At the ticketing counter we proceeded to wait in line for hours as unhappy passengers tried to get to where they were going in time for what they needed to do. We were given snack boxes. The line probably moved once every 25-45 minutes. I was in line next to a pastor and his wife. The pastor mentioned that he was on his way to perform a wedding on friday night and hopefully he didn’t miss it. I of course had to mention that I was going to MY wedding tomorrow and it seemed inevitable that I miss it. They were very nice to stand in line with and after a 20 minutes or so it occurred to me that I might be able to gradually cut ahead of everyone in line by telling my sad tale. It worked. The pastor and his wife cheered for me and eventually I was being helped.
It didn’t really help me get an earlier flight home, but it was nice not to have to stand in line longer.
They rescheduled my tickets. I would fly out at 5:30 (by this time it was about 2 in the morning already) that morning to Panama City, Panama, spend an 8 hour layover in Panama, fly to Los Angelos, spend 8 hours in LAX, and finally fly to Boise arriving there at 12:30 on friday afternoon after about 42 hours of being in an airport or a plane. But I would be on my way. There was the option of getting to Salt Lake City at midnight on thursday and then driving 6 hours to Boise, but I decided it’d be best to have a ticket that got me all the way there.
They gave me a meal voucher. I wasn’t very hungry considering it was the middle of the night and my adrenaline was going non-stop. The also gave me a phone-card which allowed me to call my poor fiance and tell him I would be getting there about 21 hours late and would he reschedule the wedding? I also called my mom who set everything up with our pastor and my dad. It was quite the time. I talked to people as I could and tried not to freak out too much
I ended up on the same flight as the pastor and his wife even though I was ahead of them in line. And as it turned out they were getting home sooner. Boise is apparently a tiny city with hardly any planes flying into it.
Panama was very nice. As soon as I got off the plane I was assaulted by the humidity, but that airport was amazing because it had free wireless, places to plug my computer in, it used american power outlets and american money which made spending 8 hours there much easier. I stretched out on some chairs and tried to sleep, ate, read, wandered, etc.
Finally it was time to leave panama, we got in line for the plane and in their attempt to abide by the requirements of the TSA they had people dump their water (right before we got on the plane, mind you, so there was no chance to fill it up after to avoid dehydration), they patted us down, and kind of half-heartedly opened and stuck their hands in our bags. It was quite weird. And it just pointed out the futility of the security measures that are taken in the states.
When I finally got to LA it was about 1AM on friday. We went through customs and immigration, everything was closed, ours was about the last flight of the night. I took a bus to my terminal only to find out that I was stuck outside security on hard tiled floors without a chair until the gate agents and TSA showed up at 5. I curled up as best I could on my bags on the floor, talked to my people on the phone, reveled in the english and my old cell phone and tried to sleep as best I could. Wasn’t very successful. It was cold, and hard, and other people all around. LAX is my least favorite airport.
We were finally allowed through and I was made to dump my water. again. I found my gate. again. and tried to sleep for a couple hours before my flight to boise left.
As it turned out that flight was also delayed and I had a few very very stressful moments as I imagined it was cancelled, etc.
But the plane finally got there, we boarded, and I was on my way to Boise.
I was absolutely bouncing as I anticipated seeing Israel for the first time in 3 months.