On the day I was scheduled to embark on my journey to Chile (Cedar Rapids -> Chicago -> Miami -> Santiago), no flights were leaving Cedar Rapids due to fog. So I sat at my airport gate freaking the fuck out calmly reading Gone Girl.
All of a sudden, an elderly couple sat next to me, and they looked exactly like my grandparents. I mean EXACTLY. So much so that I had to assume that my grandparents were dying at that very moment and these were their ghosts coming to say goodbye.
Doug had recently been telling me about wraiths, a phenomenon that has occurred throughout human history in which the image of someone who is dying appears to others in the moments before that person’s death. Like last summer, when Doug swore he saw Cory Monteith at a sandwich shop and then he died a week later.
My Airport Grandparents immediately started talking to me as though I was their long-lost granddaughter, and I happily kept the conversation going (even though I normally go to great lengths to avoid airport conversations). My Airport Grandparents, I found out, were Mormons heading home to Utah. They had 25 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren. They had lived in Santiago, Chile for two years doing work for the Mormon church. They told me all about Chilean hot dogs. And I started getting really, really emotional. I was just so touched that my grandparents had taken the time, before leaving this earth, to transform into Mormon ghosts to come say goodbye to me at the Cedar Rapids airport, and to suggest that I try hot sauce on the hot dogs in Santiago. Also, Airport Grandma gave me candy. (My actual grandparents are still alive and well, by the way.)
Finally my plane left an hour late, thus completely obliterating my hour layover in Chicago. By the time my plane landed in O’Hare, my next flight was boarding its final passengers at the exact other end of the airport. Luckily, I was wearing my running shoes. And this shirt, which my friend Krys made for me years ago as an inside-joke:
I truly had to summon the Truancy Officer inside of me as I sprinted across O’Hare. And I mean SPRINTED. I’m talking deep burn in your throat, hot pain in your chest, want to puke your organs out sprint.
And I made it. I was the last one on that flight. I am the Truancy Officer, after all.
(As soon as I sat down on the plane, I realized I was covered in a brown goop-ish substance. My sweat had melted the chocolate that Airport Grandma gave me during the Great O’Hare Sprint of ’13.)
Three hours later I landed in Miami, where Noemi, Bevin, and I met at the gate for our final flight to Santiago and took approximately a million excited selfies.
And obviously jinxed ourselves. Because our flight was canceled.
Why, you ask?
I don’t know. When I asked the lady working there, she literally just blew her nose onto her hand. So your guess is as good as mine.
We dejectedly made our way over to the re-booking counter, where the American Airlines lady couldn’t find proof of my existence and told me to call the American Airlines hotline, where another lady answered and asked why I didn’t just go to the re-booking counter.
The next flight wasn’t for 24 hours.
They put us up at the airport hotel, which was the most repulsive experience of my life (and this is coming from someone who spent a summer in India covered in piss).
I think an anonymous TripAdvisor reviewer summed it up best when he said: “Our room was disgustingly dirty, it had urine all around the toilet, the headboard on the bed had someones markings of some sort of body discharge on it, the hallway carpets, walls and trim looked like a backhoe had tried to drive down the hall and smashed into everything in site.”
We got to our room just in time to hear a murder being reported next door.
Also, this was Bevin’s entire room:
Luckily, Miami isn’t the worst place in the world to be stranded so we hit up the beach the next day.
(This picture was not actually from Miami, but you get the idea. Kindly disregard the facial netting.)
And by ordering drinks that we had no idea—until it was too late— were as big as punch bowls and cost $45 each.
(That lady in the background must have known what was up.)
By 10pm that night we were finally in the air, and by 6am we had landed in Chile and were walking through customs, so close to freedom and the end of our 48-hour travel debacle we could taste it, when suddenly I was pulled out of line and taken to a small room for questioning.
Tune in next post for a special edition of How I Almost Ended Up in Chilean Prison…