I made it! What a journey so far… It is hard to believe that only yesterday I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my plane to carry me to Santiago.
Let’s rewind to my flight from Indy to Dallas first though. I’m not even sure how long the plane ride was because I talked the whole way, nonstop to the man sitting next to me. Jerry was his name. Such a nice man! When I told him that I had studied chemistry, he shook my hand and told me, “Now that’s my kinda girl.” As it turned out, he was a chemist himself, dealing with solvents for water treatment facilities. He told me all about his life, including stories of the days when he went to protests for peace, stood 10 meters from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shook Linus Pauling’s hand, and watched Bob Knight coach his last game, and held his family together. He later explained that he was sixteen years sober. What amazing things are in store for you Jerry!
After that, I really wasn’t expecting much in the way of conversation with my next neighbor. Boy, was I wrong! Gail was doing business in Denver and was returning to her husband and three kids in Santiago. They had one more week of winter break to enjoy before going back to school. Gail was a wealth of information, and so accommodating too! She had no reason to be at interested in what I was doing, but she gave me a step by step guide of how to make it from Santiago to Viña. She even went so far as to give me her mobile and home phone number in case I should need to switch universities because of the strikes going on right now. I did manage to sleep through the night on the plane, but we chatted and she informed me in between and during or hearty airline meals.
Everything unrolled just as Gail instructed. I payed my entrance fee, passed through immigration, collected both of my bags with no problem, and headed out of customs. Another Butler student (Ben) is also doing the same program as me so we exchanged some money (Gail suggested only $50 USD because the airport changers will cheat you.) and looked for the blue and yellow bus. Gail had told me that this bus would stop at Terminal Pajarito which is where we catch our straight buses to Viña del Mar or in Ben’s case Valparaíso. We split up there.
An hour and a half later I arrived at the station in Viña. Walking into the terminal, I easily found a pay phone and called my host mother. She said she would be there in five minutes. Being the only American I was easy to spot I’m sure. Paty is so sweet. I won’t have any trouble seeing her as my mother for five months. We talked all day, over meals, while shopping, everywhere! She told me that if I didn’t understand something, just stop her and ask. She explained that she was a teacher and that she is here to help me learn. Seeing as how she doesn’t speak English, I’m gonna take a big prediction and say I’ll might be learning a little this trip. One can only hope!