Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Concepcion on a Honeymoon (Not Conception)

I woke up this morning to the sound of seagulls calling out to one another. Then came the smell of smoggy air - a smell I haven't experienced since being in the industrial city of Xi'an, China. That heavy, gritty air that feels smokey as it enters your body. We had heard that pollution can be bad in Santiago as it's in a valley, but that's only in winter. For me, Concepcion's air was the reminder that we are in an industrial belt of a developing country.

It was probably good, in a way, that this is where we are ending our trip - with little desire to stay and explore the city more. We partook of the extensive breakfast at the hotel (included, as it always seems to be in this part of the world), and prepared for the long journey home. Once packed, we booked our last illegal Uber for a while and headed to the airport (with one of us sitting in the front seat, of course!).

Originally I thought we should be at the airport three hours early, but then Mindy reminded me that this first leg of our journey was a domestic flight, and we only needed to be there two hours early. Good thing!

We got to a nearly deserted airport and strolled right up to the counter to check in. Earlier, we had tried to drop this first leg of the flight - catching our connector out of Santiago (and missing out on Concepcion!). Delta airlines (and all the online research I did) told us that if we didn't show up for the first leg, our whole flight would be cancelled. That memory was firmly in mind when the attendant at the Concepcion airport (who luckily spoke English very well) informed us that she couldn't even check us in for our flight out of Santiago; we'd have to do that upon landing after picking up our luggage and dragging it through the airport. Not impressed at all.

Upon landing in Santiago - despite being assured by airport staff that we didn't need to retrieve our luggage (I had a hard time clarifying for them that the luggage wasn't tagged to be passed through) - we made our way to the Delta check-in desk to find that it was closed. And wouldn't open for another three hours. The Santiago airport is not a very compelling place to spend an afternoon, so we walked across the street to a hotel and took up residence in their restaurant lounge. We ordered tasty food and drinks, and had access to clean washrooms while we waited for this next leg of our trek home.

Back in the airport, we were looking for interesting races to tackle this year. The American couple sitting across from us interrupted at one point, apologising for eavesdropping, to ask us about racing, as they do a lot of adventure racing. As we got chatting with them, another couple wandered over to say that they, too, were runners, and we swapped stories with them as well. Another example of running bringing people together!

Our flight was uneventful, and after a brief stopover in Atlanta, we were finally back in Toronto on a Wednesday morning. Mindy's mom picked us up at the airport to drive us home, and then I headed into work. Let's see how things are after a couple weeks away!

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