Sunday, February 12, 2012

What Could Have Been a Very Quick End to this Expedition...

About an hour ago, it felt like anything that could have gone wrong, had gone wrong in the first 24 hours of this expedition. After leaving JFK, I discovered two things: 1) that I had been upgraded to Business Class (sweet!) and 2) that my connecting flight was (inexplicably) delayed three hours. This meant I would miss my all-important morning connection from Santiago to Mendoza. When I arrived in Santiago, I discovered that the flight I had been rebooked onto--the later Lan Chile flight--was actually oversold by 30% and that I did not have a seat. I was on standby for a flight that would already have me arrive 24 hours late for my expedition. Not good. Then I realized that things could get even worse. And they did. My bags had only been checked to Santiago, at which point they had to be transferred from Copa Airlines to Lan Chile. This switch was apparently difficult for the two airlines, because when I finally arrived in Mendoza (having managed to snag the last seat on the plane), I did not have either of my two gear bags.

I drove to the hotel to meet the group in sullen silence. This was so frustrating. I had finally made it to Mendoza only to be stuck here because my bags were delayed or--even worse--lost. I met the group for the first time as they packed into their shuttle bus to leave for Penitentes. Before they left, the guides warned me that if my bags did not show up on the 3pm flight (the last flight of the day), I would have to rent all of my gear in Mendoza in addition to being three days behind the team. After talking with my parents, we agreed that if my bags did not show up on the afternoon flight, I would probably reassess the entire expedition and possibly return home.

An hour after the last flight landed, I still had not received any word about my bags. In a moment of desperation, I hopped in a taxi headed to the airport hoping beyond hope that my bags would be there. I walked quickly up to the (empty) Lan Chile desk and noticed two huge, orange North Face duffel bags. My bags made it!

My bags: stuffed to the brim and ready to head into the Andes. 

Thank goodness, because otherwise that would have been one quick (and remarkably unsuccessful) expedition!

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