Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Santiago (well, the airport lounge at least...)

We touched down at Santiago Airport at around 10.00am local time which is midnight Sydney time - just under a 12 hour flight. It was long (obviously) but smooth. We were served breakfast at what would have been about 9pm EST and although we took off at around midday, it didn't seem long before it was night, and then day again. International travel can be disorientating so best not to think too much about what time it would be where. It is also a reminder of the irrelevance of time. You can measure it and calculate it all you want but in the end, it's where you are in the moment and what you do in that moment that counts most.

For some of us, it is a 10-hour wait in transit until the connecting flight to Lima Peru. Others depart 4 hours earlier. Lucky them. They will be checked in and maybe even asleep by the time we arrive at our hotel.

Despite the long flight and being up for so long, the kids remain in great spirits. A few are sleeping in the seats but most are talking or laughing or taking photos or mucking around with their phones. A small group of girls have just finished synchronized dance moves to a Beyonce song. The teachers accompanying the students are very switched on. They are still checking and rechecking lists and contacts numbers, advising students about the intricacies of checking in and checking out of airports and even checking to make sure that the kids are not ripped off when they order food (it is all a bit confusing with multiple currencies being accepted - I think I just paid way much too much for my lightly microwaved, lightly tasted beef pannini).

The departure terminal at Santiago Airport is a very long single corridor with a spattering of shops and mostly empty departure lounges (accept for the ones we are occupying with one or two other WYD pilgrim groups, all much smaller than ours). It has none of the bustle of Sydney Airport on a Monday morning. Some of the boys have been throwing around a mini-football in one of the lounges and no one seemed to notice or care. A security guard who happened to be walking by just smiled. That definitely makes it different from Sydney...

The airport is surrounded by mountains which today are, unfortunately, shrouded in mist or fog, I can't tell which. My limited view out the window from the plane when we were landing looked spectacular.

I haven't had a real opportunity yet to talk to any of the students about why they had decided to come to WYD and what they hope to get out of it. It doesn't seem the right time yet. Maybe tomorrow. For now, best just to let them enjoy each other's company and take in the fact hat only 14 or 15 hours ago they were taking off over the southern suburbs of Sydney and now they are in South America. They are in the moment.


PS You can send a message to any of the pilgrims. If you know what bus they are travelling on, just go to that bus tab on the blog homepage and send your message. You need to sign-in with a Google account. If you haven't got one, it only  takes a couple of minutes to set one up. They'll be stoked to get your messages. If you don't know what bus number they are on, just leave your message here.

Are we there yet?

Sooo tired!! What time is that plane comin?

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