Sunday, July 17, 2011

over the mountains

I flew out of Appleton on Saturday morning, the day before Easter 2009, on my journey to volunteer in Peru. I had a long layover in Atlanta, but that was ok because I have a friend from college who lives there and she met me at the airport just to visit for a few hours. Believe it or not I have a friend from high school in Atlanta also, and she is going to meet me for my long layover on the way home.

When we left Atlanta for Lima, Peru, three stewardesses made the usual announcements in three different languages – English, Spanish and an Asian language. I am sure that it was just me being paranoid, but as we flew over South America, it seemed that they announced less in English and started only speaking Spanish.

I had been trying for months to teach myself Spanish, but it is tough doing it on your own. Even if I could afford the fancy Rosetta stone software, I think I need to have someone else – a real Spanish speaking person - in the room to interact with. As it was, I got pretty good at my numbers and when to say Buenos dias, Buenos tardes, and Buenos noches. I think I memorized how to say “My name is Chris and I don’t speak Spanish”, but that was about it. I drove my husband nuts watching the Spanish speaking networks on satellite TV.

And all that effort went right out the window when that plane started descending into Lima. I can only assume that it is because of the weather coming in off the Pacific Ocean, but it seemed that all flights into and out of Lima from the outside world occurred only late at night and flights into and out of Lima within the country occurred early in the morning. Which means another long layover both coming and going into Ayacucho.

About that time, I started wondering why I had decided to volunteer in Ayacucho instead of staying in Lima. I arrived in Lima around eleven pm, and my puddle-jumping plane to take me across the Andes Mountains to Ayacucho wasn’t scheduled to leave until five am. As it turned out, due to weather, that plane didn’t leave until seven am. And all I could remember of the language was the numbers, which was at least a good thing, coz all I listened for on the overhead speakers was “uno tres dos uno”. The number of my flight.

Once I got on that twelve passenger plane and we were in the air, any misgivings I had about my final destination lifted along with the clouds. The view of the Andes – completely breathtaking.

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