Arriving on a jet plane

22 May 2006
7:00 AM

I’m at the Arturo Merino Benitez International airport in Santiago. For the first time in this airport, I’m not going anywhere. Instead, I’m anxiously awaiting Delta flight 147 with non-stop service from Atlanta, Ga. to me. Departure: 10:05pm yesterday. Arrival: 7:30am today. I hope. My friend Elizabeth is one of the passengers aboard the flight, and her arrival today marks my first visitor in Chile. I’m looking forward to showing her the people here, the places I work, and some of the countryside.

This week we’re going to visit the places where I work and meet my community members (well, Elizabeth is going to meet them—I already know them). Then next week we hope to see some of the relatively nearby sights in Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, and La Serena.

Of course, all that is contingent on this flight getting here. For all the promises of rapid this-and-that that air travel offers, I find that it also involves a remarkable amount of waiting. International travel only complicates matters. After Elizabeth’s flight lands, it may be 10 minutes or an hour before I see her. It just depends on how immigrations and customs are running today.

In the meantime, I wait.