Flying standby is always a risk with potential disadvantages and perks, and you never know which one you’re going to get. Last night my bags were all packed, I was checked in and waiting at the gate with plenty of time to spare, and this is where the waiting game started. The adrenaline-infused type of waiting, watching your name go up and down on the standby list, moving closer or farther away from potential seats. So much was riding on this plane ticket…will I stay or will I go?
My family graciously waited with me (aside from Josh who is at base camp training for the Air Force). This is one of those perks of standby – they simply needed to be listed for, say, a flight to Chicago, and bam! They’re in through security and able to wave goodbye at the gate. Only with the way things were going last night, it didn’t look like there would be any goodbyes quite yet. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The flight had been open just a few days prior when we picked it for my departure date, but there will always be a few surprises when betting on flights as a D3 standby.
Number 29. There were supposedly only about 20 open seats and I was number 29 on the standby list. How do my nerves handle this? Do I resolve myself to not leaving home just yet, or do I hope against hope for a miracle? With passengers already boarding the plane, my sister and I watched as the check marks moved down the list…these passengers are cleared, now these, and even these, and suddenly, I was four numbers away from the latest check mark.
I can’t quite describe this feeling. It’s a huge gamble knowing you’ll take whatever they can give you for next to little money but you still might not make the flight. I gripped the straps on my backpack, my leg bounced up and down, I folded and refolded my coat… COULD THIS HAPPEN???
Yes. Yes, it very well can. And did! The gate agent called my name and with that, I was off!
This is where the potential perk came into play. “I’m sorry, we have nothing left in coach. Would you mind riding in business class?” Ok, my seat just about fully turned into a bed and I had ample amounts of space (despite being in a middle seat). The flight attendants were extremely attentive to your every need, you were offered full course meals and little luxuries, and I couldn’t even figure out what all the buttons on my seat were for! Now THAT is a way to travel 10 hours on a plane. Trying not to be spoiled here.
So now I am in Santiago! And I am discovering that my Spanish is very bad, the city is not anything like I’d imagined, and I’m still thinking, What am I doing here? For one, it’s surreal that I’m even here. I am in Chile. Wow. And I’m supposed to be here for a long time! Also, it’s completely out of my element to do new things by myself, and yet, here I am.
Well, I’m not completely alone, but I got here on my own. Getting out of the airport was a sort of frenzy with a million taxi drivers pestering you to take their business. I opted for a shuttle service through Transvip, which I heard about from my hostel. It was cheap and the shuttle drops you off exactly where you need to go, but that was one scary car ride! You think Dallas traffic is bad? Imagine that plus everyone being aggressive and ignoring the lane markers. Motorcyclists seem to only drive in that tiny space between cars, and there are pedestrians walking right in front of your car when you happened to be stopped by the traffic only for a second. I mean, this is just my first impression, but again with the adrenaline.
Getting to my hostel I have found that it is a decent place, but nothing like the European hostels I stayed in this summer. Before those, I didn’t even know what to expect when I thought of a hostel, but I’m afraid they might have set my expectations a little high. I met a very nice student from England whose Spanish is very good, and she has been kind enough to tug me along on her afternoon explorations. We visited the house of Pablo Neruda, a very famous poet here in Chile, and have mostly been chatting and walking. Both of us are on a search for a more permanent living space and my interviews start in a couple days!
I have no pictures yet. It is a very foggy day in Santiago. But when I have some I will post! Promise!
Prayers are appreciated.
Hugs from Chile,