Luck finds you anywhere in the world, except it isn’t always called luck.
Fortune, blessings, karma, answered prayers, all of these found me once more in the company of a woman I have looked up to my entire life. And, just as we had done four years prior, we were again in far-flung reaches of the world.
Mary Joy, my aunt and my father’s sister, was my partner-in-crime for twenty-two days in the Southern Hemisphere. We share a middle name, as do many women in our clannish family, but we do not look alike. When meeting us for the first time, many people cocked their heads in examination, looking in our faces for similarities, something to hint at our bloodline, but it is hard to see. I have my father’s clear blue eyes, inherited from his father. Mary Joy has her mother’s deep velvet brown eyes.
Where the similarities are found is a lucky place: we both have a quick, light laugh, which we deploy often and without guile. We meet new people with the automatic assumption that these are new friends. We both love to read, engage in good conversation, and enjoy a deep, smoky glass of Argentinian Malbec.
It seemed fitting to spend three weeks together, winding through Chile and Argentina with fifteen (new) friends, hiking, talking, learning about locals and history of our opposite hemisphere. But before the vast expanse of Patagonia—a sojourn of extremes—being the women we are, we couldn’t skip an opportunity to explore the most remote inhabited island in the world: Isla de Pascua, as Chile calls it, Easter Island, as we call it, but Rapa Nui, as the people there call it.
But I don’t want to skip anything, and I was in too far-flung of places to have reliable internet at the time, so I will recreate this for you, in a way the interwebs can understand. With Twitter.
Day One – Prep Work is Hard Work
South America is far. I don’t know the last time you looked at a map, but to get from even my Southeastern corner of the United States to Santiago, Chile is 4,576 miles. The distance between my house and Mary Joy’s house is roughly half that: a mere 2,720 miles from Savannah to San Francisco. Far.
Booking tickets is one thing when traveling to these far corners, but the
planning for all of the potential weather from Easter Island to the Straits of Magellan is challenging.
I brought everything from my swimsuit (used it!) to my heavy, water-proof, wind-proof insulated coat (used it!).
I spent my Day One packing and taking Carl to the vet. He had a tooth missing, and so we had a check-up four hours before my plane took off. Sure enough, his kitty-mouth had some issues, and dental surgery was recommended. We did the blood work, I got the antibiotics, and left a note for my husband detailing when to begin the meds.
Mary Joy was wrapping up a large project, distracted about packing as well, on the left side of our shared continent. I’m shocked we didn’t forget anything between the two of us.
I flew to Atlanta in the evening. She flew to Houston. We both had 10.5 hours flights, over night, into Santiago. Spoiler alert: I don’t sleep well on planes.
Once in the air to Santiago, I indulged in the tradition of International travelers everywhere, and took the flight attendant up on the second generous plastic cup pour of a kind of terrible complementary red wine, and then fitfully dozed while watching movies I didn’t care if I watched or not. The plotline is thankfully not terribly complex in “Shaun the Sheep.”
But Adventure Begun. Bags packed, ticket punched, seat reclined. Two Joys, loose in the world, ready for a collision in Santiago.