Sunday afternoon we left Bolivia. All of us were sad to be leaving our host families and our home for almost four months. Even the clouds were crying as we boarded the airplane. The fact that we were leaving was a stroke of good luck, though. Sunday was national election day in Bolivia which brought with it a slew of regulations: Election day means no consumption or sale of alcohol for 48 hours before the election, the end of all campaigning, and no transportation in the country. That means no cars, no taxis, and no airplanes. We were able to skirt the rules and we used the only operating cab company to get to the airport. There our flight—permitted because we were flying internationally—was one of two to leave that day.
In Asunción Paraguay, we had the strangest layover I’ve ever experienced. We landed and I removed my giant carry-on backpack from the overhead compartment. We had to deplane and we exited through Gate 1. After 30 minutes, we heard our boarding call for our flight to Buenos Aires. We lined up, re-entered through Gate 1, and re-boarded the same airplane where I put my same carry-on in the same compartment and sat down in the same seat as before.
We spend the night on the floor and benches on the airport in Buenos Aires during our 12-hour layover. While we were there, I offered a small package of Oreo cookies to a fellow traveler seated near us. He didn’t speak Spanish very well, but accepted the cookies. About 15 minutes later, he offered me money for the cookies. I told him that wasn’t necessary, but he insisted and I took the coin. He explained that he didn’t speak much English or Spanish, and that he was from Hungary. Much later in the morning, as we were boarding the plane, I looked at the coin he gave me and realized he wasn’t trying to pay me. It was a Hungarian coin. I think Buenos Aires has to be high on the list of unlikely places to get Hungarian currency.
Finally we arrived in Santiago, Chile at 8:30am Monday morning. Meg, Tom, and Maureen (the Holy Cross Associates who have already been in Chile for a year) were waiting for us. It was good to see them again. After a day of relaxing and recovering our energy, Emily, Maureen, and I made it to our new house in Pocuro, Chile. Emily and I will be living here with Maureen while Roy and Caitlin live in Santiago. After arriving we unpacked, tidied up, and made ourselves at home. Maureen told us, after all, that’s what it is.