On Wednesday ( 08May13 ) morning, a very excited crew of the UMass Boston Zhou Lab met to depart for Punta Arenas; we had no idea what our itinerary was about to become. It began with a volcano induced cancelation of our “red-eye” flight from Dallas, Texas to Santiago Chile on Wednesday evening. We thought that it was a joke when our friend from URI said that the flight was canceled and we did not need to rush dinner. So, we stayed in an airport hotel (had a lovely breakfast) and boarded a delayed flight to Miami international, through Tallahassee, and on to Santiago the next day. Regardless of having asked if our connecting flight would still be there, we arrived in the tiny Tallahassee airport without a flight to Miami or any possible flight out to another international airport. We found ourselves in an airport sponsored hotel once again. Wearing the same clothes from Wednesday, we boarded next flight to Miami on Friday at 750 AM followed by flying to Panama City, then arriving in Santiago late on Friday. With old clothes and the feeling of never being able to leave the airport, we boarded a flight to Punta Arenas, Chile at 2 am Saturday morning.
Regardless of being tossed around in airplanes for 3 days, I managed to have my first conversation in my broken Spanish with an older Chilean woman. She was very friendly but I found out that it is still very challenging to hold a conversation in a language that I do not know well. On my final flight, I met a very friendly person and got a nice introduction to new cultural foods. She gave me some homemade Chilean pastries so I gave her a bookmark with sheep which I found out is a big export of Chile. We did not think that it was possible to be in air transit for 3 consecutive days en route to one destination but now the Zhou Oceanography lab of UMass Boston knows the possibilities of cancelations can be cumulative. Regardless of the initial STRES, we are in exceptionally good spirits and eager to get research underway!