So, the plan:
Leave LAX on Christmas day, 12 hour flight to Santiago, Chile, then a 5 hour flight Sao Paolo, and finally a short, one-hour flight to Porto Alegre, where our friends live. Simple, right?
And then the airlines got involved.
We arrived at the airport at 11:30am, in plenty of time for our 2:00pm departure. We are standing in line, waiting to check in, when murmurs begin rippling down the qeue that the plane is delayed. By 11 hours. When we finally get to the front of the line, this is confirmed. They kindly offer to put us up in a hotel near the airport for the duration. We ask about our connecting flights in Santiago and Sao Paolo; the flight from Santiago will be fine, but there is only only one flight a day to Porto Alegre from Sao Paolo - again they offer to put us up in a hotel.....
So, we spend Christmas day at the airport Hilton, admiring the giant gingerbread houses and eating our Christmas dinner at the buffet. We get on the plane, tired and full of turkey and stuffing, and mercifully it is not full and the kids can stretch out and sleep. None of us sleep well, but probably more than we would had the flight been on time. We have a brief stop-over in Santiago and then on to Sao Paolo. We have a moment of panic in Sao Paolo when we can´t figure out who to speak to about the hotel, but someone pointed us in the right direction and a lovely airline employee had our reservations and a cab to the hotel waiting for us. Isn´t it amazing when things work the way they should? The hotel in Sao Paolo gave us a much-needed chance to sleep, and when we awoke there was an amazing breakfast buffet awaiting us. Re-engergized and re-fueled, we headed to the airport for our flight to Porto Alegre.
Here is what I will always remember from that day: Seeing Nadja and Rafael waiting for us on the other side of the gate, waving and smiling, the happiness in their faces mirroring ours.
And the orange-carrot-honey yogurt at the breakfast buffet. That was really good.