My trip started with a long wait getting through security at the San Antonio airport. The flight to Mexico City went smooth enough, but then things deteriorated. My flight leaving from Mexico City for Santiago was delayed from 11:50 to 12:40. I spent eight hours at the airport, and finally boarded the plane at around 1:00 in the morning. We were further delayed as the flight attendants questioned a young man sitting next to me – they thought he might have been on drugs, which he wasn’t. He was just an unfortunate with with some health problems. Finally we managed to leave, but of course then we arrived in Santiago late. The story of the frantic fight to find and then get through customs could be an epic tale, but I will leave it for some other time. Needless to say, I did manage to make it through customs, collect my bag, and begin the last leg of my journey.
After a breathless, flab-bouncing, elbowing sprint through milling throngs, I discovered, much to my lack of surprise, that my plane to Valdivia had closed its doors. So then I waited in line with a rather large assortment of other irritated flight-missers in order to finally re-check my bag and exchange my boarding pass for a standby status on the next flight to Valdivia, which, rumor had it, would be leaving in a couple of hours.
After what seemed an eternity but possibly wasn’t, I was allowed to board the plane and, of course, I found it to be packed to the gills, since it apparently functions as a sort of airborne bus. We flew from Santiago to Osorno where we sat a few minutes as the plane emptied and refilled with a new lot who were headed back up to Santiago. The trip to Valdivia from Osorno lasted about twenty minutes.
When I finally deplaned in Valdivia, I stumbled through the delightfully tiny and empty airport. I collected my bag, which somehow managed to arrive at the same airport and at the same time as me, and then found the car rental. For some unknown reason, they actually had my car reservation, made via the internet in OCTOBER OF LAST YEAR, in hand as they greeted me by name. These two young men had me out the door and in the car in about ten minutes.
I drove into Valdivia and spent thirty minutes driving in circles looking for the hostal where I, in theory, had a room waiting for me. I drove elbow-to-elbow, head-to-head, and cheek-to-jowl through rush hour traffic and crowds of students. I finally managed to park the car and walk a few blocks down a street I had come to know well, and discovered the place I was looking for, the place I had driven by perhaps eight or ten times, the Hostal Totem.
I rang the bell and was greeted by a very pleasant young man. We talked for a few minutes, I signed in, and I was shown to my room on the third floor. I left San Antonio Sunday afternoon, and finally arrived Monday evening. I was exhausted, but I left the hostal for a walk, and to eat dinner in Valdivia, Chile.