Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cinco Pesos

  Valentines Day and I was stood up by a man!  Can you believe it?  Not for a loving date but for the sale of my boat.  I was leaving Chile the next day and did not want to bring the kayak back with me.  I was traveling alone.  Delta does NOT fly kayaks and I had no way of transporting it between all the buses and flights I needed to make to get home to Minnesota.  I was sick to my stomach with worry!  I tried with the help of Ellie, my hostel hostess, to contact all the other boaters we could to see if I could make another quick sale but the answer was not what I wanted to hear.  It was a brand new Villain!  Barely used!   I went to sleep sick with worry about what I would do with the boat the next day.

  I woke up at 3:30am and checked to see if the buyer had contacted me on the computer...no.  I couldn't go back to sleep after that.  It was the 15th and I was leaving.  I would have to find some way of taking it back with me. As one person traveling alone for her first time unleashed on the international world, I was scared!

  I had plenty of time to think of how I would possibly  handle moving all my bags and an 8'8" boat.  The thought of wheels on the boat crossed my mind and I thought Graham's skateboard would work great but where would I ever find a skateboard on very short notice in Pucon, Chile?

  I was waiting at the hardware store 10 minutes before it opened to buy a tarp to wrap it in.  I was standing outside trying to come up with alternatives and solutions to problems that hadn't begun to exist yet, when I looked down and saw a shiny new cinco peso coin on the bricks.  Now I am a believer in "Pennies from Heaven".  When you find a penny it means someone in heaven is looking out for you!  This was not a uno peso coin...this was a whopping cinco pesos and a peace settled in me that what ever happens today God has this one....relax...try to relax.  You only need to get the boat from the hostel to the bus depot.  Get it on the bus to Temuco.  Transfer it somehow from the Temuco bus depot to the airport a half hour away.  Get it on the LAN Airlines to Santiago.  Then the really daunting task of getting it on Delta, we do NOT fly kayaks, Airlines.   Then home to Minnesota.  All this by myself and I can't speak Spanish well nor can I hear well.  But God gave me five peso's...not one...five, so I have faith...along with a sick stomach and nerves.

  The hardware store opened up and I walked in.  There were beautiful wood cooking stoves right at the front.  Yes, I can and have cooked a lot on those and do miss it.  Right after the wood stoves, on a table, were about 5 skateboards!!  OMG!  When God gives you skateboards you buy a skateboard!  And they were cheap!  Only 8 Lukas!!  So I had a tarp and wheels to boot!  Back at Ellie's I wrapped and tied the boat with my paddles in a nice bundle with a skateboard for wheels!  Straps for handles.  It looked good!  Ellie gave me a ride to the bus depot and said farewell.   She is such an awesome person and gave me her phone number in case I needed any help from Pucon to Temuco.  She would be there for me!  Knowing someone like her in a foreign country is priceless!!  Thank you Ellie for everything!

  I walked the boat up with all my other bags to a lot of stares and comments.  When my bus came and I tried to load, the bus driver took one look and said NO!  He was very firm!  NO!  Then a lot of Spanish and finally two young men who could speak English came to my rescue.  I was directed next door to the freight shipping to talk with the man there.  No he could not get it to the airport before my flight left.  I wanted to cry then but the man was a Jefe.  He took charge in a very authoritative way.  He walked back to the buses and talked with a different driver...my bus had left...and three men determinedly stuffed the boat under the bus.  By putting it in diagonally and raising the back, it fit without a half inch to spare, not kidding!!  I was so happy I hugged them all while almost crying.  They took it in stride and loaded me on the bus and bid me farewell.  Driving out of Pucon tears did come.  I loved the people, the culture, the country, the water.  Chile is amazing and I couldn't have picked a better place for my first International destination!  I was on my way!  I will be back again someday.

  I arrived at the bus depot in the middle of downtown Temuco.  I asked a man at the desk to call me a taxi, por favor.  Un grande taxi!  I had a grande package.  He saw the boat...everyone saw it because it was so large and said a taxi couldn't help me but not to worry.  He had another man come out who spoke English and he explained they had some calls out and were waiting to hear back.  Good news.  A man with a red truck would come right away and pick me up!  OMG!  The kindness of Chileans!  The young man with the red truck was so nice!  He couldn't speak English but I did understand that his sister speaks it very well.  In fact he went to pick his sister up on the way to the airport just so she could ride along and talk to me.  She is in her last year of college to become an English teacher and she was so happy to talk to an American!  On the way to the airport we passed a taxi and they explained that it was their Dad.  He was the taxi driver who arranged for his son to pick me up.  They dropped me off at the airport and she offered to translate if needed.   The lady at the counter spoke English so we hugged and kissed a Chilean goodbye and when I offered them a tip they refused and literally ran out the door so I couldn't give it to them!  The sweetest people!!

  I turned to the counter lady and she looked at the grande package and said "Is that a kayak?  We don't fly kayaks".  Oh no!  My heart sank.  I mumbled something to the effect that it was a surf ski and like a kayak but not.  I told her the story of how it was supposed to have been sold the night before but the sale fell through and now I had to get it home somehow.  She got it and looked me dead in the eye and said "It's NOT a kayak then?"  And I said no it's not. She knew it was and God bless her for allowing it.   She did say that it was only checked through to Santiago though and then I would have to check it through "We don't fly kayaks" Delta.  The charge for the over size was a nominal $24.  Her last question for me and she was serious..."it's NOT a canoe is it?"  Ha!  Oh no..it's definitely not a canoe but I do have one at home.   It was now 2pm and my flight left at 6:55pm but everything was working with a five peso promise of faith.  I got really hungry waiting for my flight and bought a chocolate bar to survive on until I could eat again.  It was a long afternoon but I was very thankful for the amazing chain of events that had gotten me to where I was with my boat.  The next jump was the crux.  I had faith.  I had cinco pesos in my pocket.

  Joining me on my flight to Santiago were two families from the New River Kayak Academy.  They were also  flying back to the states that evening.  The Jennings's family was on the same flight in Santiago to Atlanta as I was.  It was good to travel with other boaters at that point!  Again, in the Santiago Airport, my grande package was attracting a lot of attention from airline workers and from travelers.  One man even asked to take a photo of it.  This was the crux of my trip.  If I could get it checked on this flight it was home safe.  The Jennings  family and I knew how crucial this was. I had told them the story of the five pesos so we all had faith.   Alexis Grace helped me bring it to the counter...this was it.  The man took one look and said.  "That will be $150...is that OK"   YES!!!!  OMG!!  YES!!  It was on!  Euphoria set in!  All was well!  More than well as the convoluted trail of occurrences could only have been orchestrated by God! The kayak was coming home!  Thank you Lord!!

What!? I have to recheck it in Atlanta?  Nutz...I missed my flight by time I had gotten through customs and Homeland Security.  Unbelievably I was rebooked on a direct flight instead that arrived before the original two more flights I was to have been on.  Things were still going strong.  I called my friend Shirley, who was picking me up in her Audi, and told her that I would have to leave the boat at the airport and come back with my truck.  She suggested I call Miguel and have him come up with his truck and pick me up boat and all as he was off work today.  Thank you Miguel!!  Right now I and my boat and everything are home.  My truck started right up after sitting for three weeks! .   My house still stands and everything is fine here.  I'm waiting for the heat to come up and the hot water heater to heat up some water for a shower.   I have another boat.  I'm sure it will be put to good use.  My son doesn't really fit well in the Habitat so maybe a large Villain will be a better fit.  Either way I had not named this boat as it was to be sold.  Before leaving for Chile I had shaped some closed cell foam to outfit the new Villain I would have in Chile.  I had come to the conclusion that I wanted my thighs in tighter and really loved the way the new outfitting worked with the new boat.  I was a bit upset about the sale falling through but to be honest, deep in my heart I'm glad the kayak came home with me.  The outfitting is perfect for me!   The color was my first choice of color but curiously the bottom of the boat's mixed up colors actually resemble the Andes Mountains.  My three souvenirs from Chile are a black geode bracelet, a mate cup and my Villain.  On my way home during all of this I wanted to name the boat.  Something Chilean or Spanish.  Something to remind me of my time in Pucon.   Only one name comes to mind...Cinco. 

3 comments:

Anna said...

GREAT story, Nora. This little adventure is one of the many things traveling is all about. There's always a story to tell.

I'm glad things worked out so well and you made it home safely.

Happy kayaking.

MarkT said...

Love the story, Nora. And glad you're home safe and warm! You're a true adventure paddler.

catherine said...

Nora, what a GREAT story!!! We were thinking about you all day wondering what was happening and I am so glad you got the boat home! Loved reading your story.

It was really great to meet you and boat with you in Chile. You know what, it started raining yesterday and I'm sure the rivers in Pucon are right back up there. But we are on our way to the Fut, where all appears to be flowing well also.

Keep in touch and happy paddling in Cinco!!

Love,
Cat, (and Tim and Rohan)