The longest day of our lives - literally!!!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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In the air somewhere over the water

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, November 15, 2010

Well there is no doubt that this is the longest day of our trip, or is it, or is it two days, we are confused, tired but looking at least one day younger. Let me explain.....

We woke up at 7:45 at the So hotel and had a shower and quick mince about watching some tv and getting a card made up for Erica's Grandad’s 90th Birthday in the next couple of days among a few other things. We walked to Base Hostel and waited for about 20 minutes contemplating life living somewhere like South Island then the friendly man with the bus turned up and ran us to the airport. We were probably at the airport an hour before our flight and an hour was plenty enough time even with a free 30 minute Wifi connection. After a bit of a laugh and a joke with the check in woman about how I wasn't allowed any money, cards, passports or things we were practically straight onto the plane. The flight was fairly uneventful as budget flights are, all we knew was by the time we arrived in Auckland at about 11:45am we were starving unfortunately. Auckland airport didn’t appreciate our concerns and it took over an hour to unload all the bags in the domestic terminal, with only two flights we are not sure what was going on but were kept entertained by the quiet kiwi's lifting up the flaps on the luggage belt "come on you lazy bastards I need to get somewhere" and "why are we waiting" etc etc. In the end the bags did arrive and I think Erica had started chewing the stitching off her new bag, we had no option but to stop at a McDonalds and get a $5 special lunch each of a Big Mac and small fries at 2.50 it isn’t too bad but I always feel guilty eating McDonalds, but all we have eaten since we dumped the van has been fast food (if you include sushi as fast food).

We headed off to walk across to International which was longer than we thought (it still only took about 10 minutes) but we already started to have mixed feelings about having our wonderful rucksacks back. We got to the international terminal to find our 4pm flight did not exist a little worrying but after a bit of hunting around we found out that there had been some 'operational / technical' issues and therefore they hadn’t listed the flight. It did eventually turn up listed for 18:40 so as we checked in we were amazed to hear this qualified us for free vouchers for food / drink. While the check in guy wanted to satisfy the Chilean authorities of our travel plans for onward travel I took up Erica's dare and said "listen I haven’t eaten for over a day if you would be so kind could we get another 2 vouchers", the guy said no, I responded with "please", with Erica cringing I didn’t get off and suggested we may even have to share another one. In the end I had to cave in as Erica was shrinking away, I finished with my killer line "look I think I am rotting away into nothing" but alas we came away with only two vouchers that entitled us to 12 Dollars of free food and drink, yeah!

We tried all the book shops first to try and get money off books instead of food and drink but to no avail. On the way through security while I was waved straight through Erica had a thorough check of person and belongings. This included a swab test, until this point I hadn’t paid much attention but when I heard the words "swab test” I was right next to the woman asking what it was for. Having missed the swab test I was completely perplexed when I asked what she had been tested for, “explosives” was the response. I had assumed that the swab test had been the tongue or hands or something (it was actually a swab of the inside of her bag) stupidly I said “what terrorists are now eating explosives how do they detonate them?”, Erica flipped out into fits of laughter and the security woman nearly broke into a laugh. I think my brain is dying slowly.

With an option of 3 beers or 2 of the biggest Burger King meals you have ever seen with unlimited (soft drinks). Instead I opted for a repetitive visit to the samples desk in the duty free for Jim Beam and cokes. We sat around waiting for the delayed flight to arrive and spaced out our Burger Kings, the second one we didn’t even want but as it was free we had no choice other than to consume (although we did consider trying to sell them to fellow passengers but NZ dollars of about 5 would be of absolutely no good to us as we couldn’t even change it).

The planes operational faults further delayed the flight then they stopped us boarding as they had 'forgotten to fill up with fuel’ which delayed us a bit longer. It was all good craic though and listening to the Spanish and looking at our South American travel companions then sneakily looking at their passports to see if we had guessed right or wrong passed the time.

The plane journey was pretty uneventful, we drank the free wine, played ‘who wants to be a millionaire’, learned some Spanish and watched some films it was soon dark and we both managed to get to sleep (I was amazed when I woke up). Not too much sleep but a bit all the same. We landed in Santiago to find that despite our long flight we had arrived somewhere in the region of 5 hours before we had actually set off, due to crossing the international time line. We were still pretty warped in terms of deciding if we were a day younger or if the gradual accumulation of time zones means is a satisfactory answer, obviously we have made up our minds and we are now a day younger and looking better than ever. Do not bring science into this.

No problem entering Chile and it was a nice change to see so many other nationalities queuing up to buy a visa on arrival for $100 and us just walking straight through without needing one. As we walked into the baggage hall about 40 screaming teenage girls were banging on the windows above screaming at me waving. I told Erica it was always like that when I was 17, I couldn’t even get out of my house. We collected the bags and walked through the exit gates which opened automatically and the girls were all there screaming shouting “hello”, “welcome to Chile”, “we welcome all foreigners to our country” and so on, unfortunately not one shouted “get your skiddy Y’s off”, they just don’t have the same level off class here do they. Erica edit: Andrew forgets to reveal that shortly after us out walked a girl who had obviously been on an exchange or something and they were in fact all there to meet her – sadly not 17 anymore Andrew.

We headed out to find it so very hot and being hassled by supposed taxi drivers, we couldn’t get cash out at any of the machines and had a bit of a row about something or another so we weren’t concentrating on what we were doing. We managed to get cash and jumped in a real cab for about 5 instead of saving about 2 navigated the buses and metro, (all advised by the hostel of course as being the best way to get there).

We arrived at the hostel with our merry taxi driver who looked a bit too much like Remo Gadji from Casino to be too friendly back to. We got to the hostel and we were roasting it was about 30 degrees so we were relieved to see a swimming pool, our dorm wasn’t ready as someone still had our beds so we sat down and got chatting to a few UK folks two of which had also been on our flight. We nipped out to the bottle store and realised that despite Santiago having the reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in South America, a 1.5L bottle of beer for about 1.00 seemed pretty good considering it was 5.8%. Obviously I bought two and in conversations we kept nipping back for one or two more between us. At 2am we finally got our first meal in about 12 hours a barm cake with a bit of burger and the biggest amount of avocado you have ever seen. We fell asleep in our 8 room dorm and full of a cold from the flight, jet lag from 9 time zones and drink I started to snore, Erica rectified the problem by climbing across the bunks then trying to pull my toes to wake me, this ended up in a massive shout and scream waking everyone up, welcome back to dorms.
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