South America Day One – On Our Way!

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Our Cruise Map
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Granddaughter Emma, age 14 and Grandma Kathy, AARP Qualified

Wow, here we are, sitting on a bus in Chile!  My husband George, our 14 year old granddaughter Emma, and myself.  We have made it to the transfer bus that will take us to our ship, and are speeding through the countryside, away from the Santiago airport.  As always, in every country, one of the first advertisements we see is a large billboard, advertising McDonald’s.  Actually, we have been on the road three minutes and passed two billboards.  Large pictures of a quarter pounder (obviously internationally known) adorn the highway.  Each billboard has different wording:

No pares, sigue, sigue

Dees-pa-ci-to

Alas, I am missing accent marks on “sigue” and I have absolutely no idea what the signs say.  Does the second billboard say Delicious?  When I have internet, I will have to look up the words.  It’s fun to try to figure out what the signs say.  I should have taken Spanish in high school!  I saw a stop sign with the word “pares” written on it.  Does “pares” mean stop?  Help!  No internet on the bus, so I can’t look it up.

They moved the location where our ship is docked and we have to travel further to a different port.  So now for a two hour bus ride.  The bus is crowded and we couldn’t sit together.  Emma, our 14 year old granddaughter, and husband George are in the very back of the bus, and I’m in the very front.

The flight was long, but pretty uneventful.  George, who had a very painful bone spur break off his lower spine a week before the trip, did amazingly well.  Of course, he was drugged to the hilt with pain killers.  On he first leg to Atlanta he was a bit surly.  Okay, he was outright cranky. 

Airplane food is definitely not friendly for those of us watching our weight.  It took a long time to lose 85 pounds, and I really don’t want to gain this trip.  Before we left I bought a veggie tray, blueberries and apples and stuffed it all in a lunch bag.  Emma and I munched on it, while George munched on all of our airline cookies.  When we got to Atlanta, we had a really good dinner.  I had salmon, asparagus, salad and the most amazing pepper jack cheese grits.  Oh, does this girl love cheesy grits.  There is a southern belle hidden in my genes somewhere.

Emma has been wonder struck with the journey so far.  She took 2,000 photos of the wing of the jet and declared as we stepped off the plane in Atlanta, that the land had a different feel to it.  It is so fun to see the wonder on her face.  When we left Atlanta – the next stop was Santiago, Chile.  On the first leg, Emma had a window seat, but for the final part of the journey she was keenly disappointed not to be near the window.  She wanted to see the stars, the moon, the water below us.  Alas, we had three seats in the middle of the plane.  I explained that it was now night and she wouldn’t be able to see much, anyway.  But she was still disappointed.

As our plane didn’t leave Atlanta until 11:30 pm, I didn’t dream they would serve dinner on the flight.  But they did!  Okay, now my SEE FOOD, AND WE PAID BIG BUCKS FOR THIS AIRFARE, SO I SHOULD EAT IT mentality took hold of me.  Mind you, we had just finished a lovely meal, and I wasn’t hungry.  They passed out a fancy menu with our options.  The only vegetarian option (I’m pescatarian – eat veggies and fish) was a pasta dish.  I am a proud leader for a national weight loss and healthy living company, and past traveling experience has shown me to start the journey with a plan.  If I succumb to the first temptation, I will head off plan and need a seat belt extension by the return flight home.  I’d counted up my points and had three points left for the day.  Darn, I like to earn points to roll over and a pasta dish would set me over into my weeklies and we hadn’t even arrived in Santiago yet. 

The little devil in my ear whispered “Read the menu…..”  Oh my goodness, it was vegetarian ravioli, stuffed with vegetables and simmered in a delicate Alfredo sauce.  I’m starting to salivate….  It is accompanied by sautéed greens, a salad, crudités and dessert.  Oh, oh, oh…..Emma, who loves all things Alfredo, wanted to try it.  She had eaten sushi for dinner, and also had sushi picked up in Portland for lunch.  She had tried to get George to eat it for breakfast, but he said he wasn’t about to eat anything raw and potentially still swimming for breakfast. 

The food struggle began.  If I said out loud – “I am not going to eat another dinner!” Out loud, then I would be committed to pass on the meal.  But the words strangled in my throat.  The little devil whispered in my ear a sing song tone of seduction – “Alfredo my dear, you know you love it…..one dish won’t hurt……”. Oh yes, did I mention it comes with a zero point salad?   So how bad could the pasta be?  And the menu said liquor was complimentary, so pasta and a nice glass of wine?  The flight attendants were coming closer, and I could sniff the sauce.

A less than cheerful attendant, aged 65+ and close to using a walker,  pulls her cart up and and tells Emma the only food left is the pasta.  Okay, the Alfredo gods are speaking and tell me to get one!  She slaps down the tray for Emma, and salivating, I look at it.   What was I thinking?  This was airplane food!  No matter how sexy it is described on the menu, it was a challenge to link what appeared on the tray to what was written in the menu.  The crudités were so dried that the carrot sticks were actually wrinkled.  The salad was the size of my big toe, the dinner roll was shrink-wrapped in plastic.  The entree?  When the plastic was peeled back from the container, it took more than a minute to figure out that it was pasta. 

I hate to admit this, but in the old days of thunder thighs and bountiful buttocks, I would have taken this disgusting meal and eaten it.  I’m proud to say that today, after years of dedicated effort, I declined the wrinkled carrot sticks, dried bread and congealed Alfredo.  Yay, moral victory over cardboard food! 

I decided to drink instead.  I ordered my “free” wine, took one sip and passed it over to George.  It wasn’t great wine, and I decided I wanted to walk onto the ship feeling like I hadn’t lost control before I got there.  Besides, I still had 12 pounds of veggies left in my lunch bag.  And, I figured a little wine mixed with his pain pills might make George a bit friendlier.  Yes, I know – it isn’t recommended.  But 15 minutes later, as we flew over Havana, Cuba, he was so happy that he wanted a kiss.  Better living through chemistry, I always say!  And I got three food points to roll over today!

It’s not easy sleeping on an airplane, and Emma was pretty wore out by the time we arrived in Santiago.  Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.58.28 PMI warned her that the immigration and customs lines would be long, but her poor face fell when she saw the hundreds of people in the lines ahead of us.  George was so happy to be off the plane, he became quite jolly – and loud.  Which is another way of saying he was just a bit embarrassing for Emma.  There was a group of octogenarians ahead of us in the line and he told them they looked like big drinkers, and had they purchased the unlimited drinking package for the cruise ship?  He grinned broadly (that wine really has a long-acting effect when mixed with pain pills), while they looked appalled and in turn excited at the prospect.  Emma looked like she wanted to sink through the floor.  I told her to get used to it, she was traveling with old farts now.

Oh dear, back to the present.  We are traversing some winding roads in our bus, and the driver keeps loudly belching.  I sure hope he isn’t getting carsick and throws up while driving.  I’m sitting directly behind him.  Emma was feeling queasy before we got on the bus, hopefully she is doing okay.  With luck, George has embarrassed her enough to forget her stomach.  A lady just came up from the back and is sitting on the step in the aisle next to me.  She is sick to her stomach.  Please, don’t let her throw up on my feet!  Oh no, the driver just belched again.  This is definitely not looking good.

An old man wobbled up front and asked for the air conditioning to be turned up in the back.  Now it is absolutely freezing up front, but I hope they are getting some cool air back there before an epidemic of carsick cruisers start erupting. 

Oh geez, the lady is throwing up next to my feet.  Thank god she brought a paper bag.  Please don’t let it leak….I think I will close here, and take up again when we get to the ship.  Dramamine, anyone?