Flight #1: LAX to San Salvador

September 17, 2011

A fragile grandma sidled up to me and asked if I spoke Spanish. I nodded in the affirmative, waiting for her to question me on flight logistics or something. She then commenced speaking to me in Portuguese about having just met her young grandchildren for the first time, how she was now returning to Brazil alone, how the purported boarding time was not fortuitous, and how my carry-ons were far too big. For lack of words, I matched her commentary with copious amounts of nodding. Little did I know what a theme this would prove for the day of travel ahead of me.

Alcohol was free (I decided not to participate at the happy hour of seven AM), so the man in my row had four cups of whiskey with only three ice cubes to accompany each round. We proceeded to have an hour-long conversation about…rocks. I scrambled to recall everything I learned perusing the precious gems exhibit in the Smithsonian about, oh you know, nineteen years ago. And then my newly friended geologist went into detail about his collection and how he splits the rocks open with his teeth to check for quartz or amethyst in the center. As you can surmise, nodding on my part took over from there.

Across the aisle was a band of equally interesting characters. Did I say interesting? I meant obnoxious. They had clearly never been on an airplane, and talked the ENTIRE flight. In the loudest decibel possible, of course. I had ear plugs in and I could still clearly hear them yelling. Thank God it wasn’t a red-eye. During the rough landing (finally), they were literally whooping and hollering about how much fun the dips (no, they weren’t twelve-years-old) were and how the engine had been turned off (mid-air) to ensure our safe landing and how beautiful the sea looked. Until someone informed them that those were, in fact, clouds.

Speaking of turbulence though, the second the whirring of descent kicked in, synchronized murmurs of Hail Mary’s rose as people starting crossing themselves in between crying out, “I have to live, God! I’m planning to go to Pollo Campero as soon as we land! Oh god, their chicken…”

Welcome to Latin America.