Monday, August 20, 2012

Sad to Leave, Happy to Go Home: July 27 - 30

I spent Friday morning at the museum finishing up my work, before hitching a ride across town to the Narrows Bar. The guys were heading up to Elephant Beach for a hunting weekend so we got together for lunch before they left (Vanessa and Paula came, too). The fish and chips was awesome - really good batter and Joss let us have salad instead of mushy peas. We also played a few rounds of pool, including my first victory. I actually beat Steve! Steve and Joss also surprised me with...FACE CAKE!!!
Face delicious!
I was sad to say goodbye, but I had to get back to the museum. The ladies were excited to share my face cake and gave me a book of beautiful Falklands photographs. I did a last bit of shopping too, stocking up on books and another batch of small gifts/souvenirs. There was just enough time for me to catch Sam at the radio station to pick up a copy of my interview and say goodbye to her. Debs had already claimed me for friday night, so a few hours later I called a cab to her current abode on the other side of town, bearing the last of the face cake and a couple bottles of wine. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was on in the background, but the main event was an Asian potluck dinner. I'd only met a few of the other guests before (most were from the Fisheries), but it was a good bunch and they brought some delicious food. I even got to try some raw toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass). Unplanned by Debs was the extremely difficult quiz conducted by a mad Russian scientist. Paul wisely fled to the pubs. I stuck it out, so I missed seeing some of the Chilean girls, but I got to spend more time with Debs. I got a cab home and called it an early night.

As an experienced traveler I put off packing until Saturday morning. I still finished very quickly, leaving nothing to do but sit, wait, and discuss the Falklands with my hosts. Alex was headed to Chile for a week on the same flight so I got a ride to MPA with him and Vanessa. The road was in pretty rough shape and Alex's truck was completely covered in mud by the time we got there. And so was my suitcase that had been in the back. The first flight was uneventful. I said goodbye to Alex in Pumta Arenas and got a cab to my hotel in the center of town. Thus began my adventures in Spanglish. The guy working the front desk did not speak English, but we muddled through and he got me checked into my room. It was awesome, had a balcony, and made me feel like a princess! Back at the front desk I asked "donde cena?" and got directions to a restaurant. Out on the street, I found it, but it wasn't open yet so I moved onto a coffee shop for a chicken sandwich with tomato and avacado. Yummy!

My Punta Arenas hotel. My room is the one with the
balcony and the lights on.
My hotel room!
View of the Plaza from my balcony.
More view from my balcony.
Me, on my balcony in Punta Arenas.
My flight to Santiago the next day allowed me to sleep in and the hotel's breakfast made a good start to the day. Sunday went without incident until I reached the American Airlines counter in Santiago. I had to clear the domestic area, collect my luggage, and then check in again on the international side of the airport. The very helpful lady at the AA counter informed me that my flight to Dallas had been delayed for six hours and offered me several options. I decided to wait it out, but she rebooked my connecting flight and gave me $20 voucher to get some dinner. The international terminal was much better equipped than the domestic terminal and I had a decent sit-down dinner. The beat part? I got their wifi password so as long as I stayed in  range I had internet. I wandered, snacked, surfed, and napped the hours away. Apparently I didn't nap too much as I managed to sleep all the way to Dallas. Finally back in the States I was a bit overwhelmed by the heat, sun, and the large number of people surrounding me. However, customs was kind enough to clean my shoes. Since the Falklands is basically one giant farm and NMSU is an agriculture school I figured better safe than sorry. My final flight I the journey came with a nice surprise - the only  seat the AA agent in Santiago had been able to book me was in first class. I was so exhausted that I didn't really get to enjoy it, but the extra space was appreciated. Eric met me at the airport with roses and he didn't even have to go back to work. I was so out of it that I wasn't entirely sure what day it was. Oh, and my first meal at home? A veggie burrito from Chipotle.

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