RAPA NUI Pt 2 – Chili’s?

So to recap, I have just gotten an offer to fly down, across the Equator, to cook on a movie currently being filmed on Easter Island.  Picking up from there, I will say it took me less-that-a-minute to make that decision. South America here I come. Now the timeline was a little short, Tom, of TomKats catering, wanted me on a plane to Santiago Chile in about 2 weeks. I was originally told that the flight would leave SFO on a Thursday, 2 weeks hence. In the interim I was forwarded a list of foodstuffs and equipment to cart along with me on my travels. Okay, I am game. I offered my 2 week notice telling my boss that I got a job cooking in Chile. I even offered to work 10 days straight leaving me 1 or 2 days to move out of the apartment, which I had just moved in to, with plenty of time left over to shop for all the items they requested. (Luckily I had not yet signed a lease and all of my belongings were still in boxes so that part of the move was painless.) Everything was going according to plan for 2 whole days, then Tom, informed me that no, I would not be flying out on that Thursday. (??) I would actually be flying out on the Monday before, first flight in the morning. (Yikes!)  I did get one small bit of a laugh though. During the week before I left, the head hunter who recommended me for the job gave me a call and asked, “They told me that you are quitting and going to work for Chili’s!?” (Read between the lines: Narrow view of the world.)  “No,” I replied calmly, “I am going to work in CHILE, the country.”  “Oh” was all I heard before the phone clicked off.

Que circus music here.

My last day of corporate pain was the Sunday brunch shift. In the off hours of the week, prior to my leaving, I searched for and locally sourced the items I needed. Now all of this happened way before the internet and Amazon were a thing.  Back then, the only way to fill this crazy list of things was to use the Yellow Pages, the telephone, or to drive around hoping to find a certain, undefined, gourmet, Asian noodles. (There are like 50 different kinds of Asian noodles. Odds against me, of course, I chose wrongly. Another story, another time.) In the meantime I needed to sort out the storage arrangements for my belongings. Time was closing in and my old little Volvo was just not up to the task of carrying everything I had. My parents were away on vacation which left my father’s truck available. Sunday came, I ended my last shift and the train ride began.  I gathered my travel companion DV, without whose assistance I never would have made the flight. We grabbed Dad’s truck, packed up my personal belongings and deposited them at my parent’s house. I was instructed to purchase beverage coolers, the ones that you see hanging off the back of construction trucks or like that king your teenage son used to mix vodka, red bull, Bloody Marys for the entire football team. In hindsight I could have used a duffle bag but I followed instructions and packed all my clothing and food in these coolers. I believe that I had 12 or 13 packages in all. It took from 2 p.m. on Sunday straight through until 6 a.m. on Monday for both DV and I to finishing moving, packing and driving to the airport.  DV, forever my hero, got me loaded into the airport and sent me off with a hug. Good man that DV. Attempting to be respectful of my fellow travelers I arrived at the ticket agent a good 3 hours before the flight, just to be sure I would not hold up the line. It did not help. Checking in all of my baggage through to Chile took almost half an hour. In a singularly clear moment of thinking, I upgraded my ticket to first class all the way through to Santiago.  This had had the amazing benefit of being able to use the first class lounge.  Okay, I made it. Nothing left to do but fly and read.

It was not until I strolled in to the private lounge that I realized I had not taken a shower since the morning before. Having plenty of time before my flight, I asked if there were any showers in that wing of the airport. I got a curled lip no in reply. Shit. Looking down I realized that I would have to travel for 2 days in the same clothes, no shower, looking like a scruff.

With my early check in, I was literally the very first person to board the plane. My seat was the very first aisle seat that you see when you board the plane. My pre-9 a.m. cocktail was the very first one that the flight attendant made that morning. Feeling a little sorry for my fellow first class travelers I asked for a blanket for which to cover myself and tipped, nay, reclined my seat back even farther than my father’s Barca-lounger would go. I woke up briefly before we departed as my seat mate, shouldering a very lovely bepoke suit, was stepping over my legs to get to his seat while expressing the ever-sp-slightest of grumpy groans. I awoke and apologized. He smiled a very warm smile and shook it off. I am sure that I would have enjoyed a conversation with him on that very long flight had I not slept soundly the entirety of the flight.

It was evening in Florida when we landed and I had about 2 hours before my connecting flight to Chile. I checked in again at the first class lounge, life was good then, asked for a drink and my flight status. A lovely Gin and Tonic where set before me and a charming woman, with both a pleasant smile and lilt in her voice said, “That flight’s been cancelled. The next one leaves in 14 hours.”

“Is there a shower in the airport?”  “No,” was all she said

“Can I get a hotel room to wait?”  “No.”  I was beginning to sense a theme.

An hour later they closed the first class lounge with their comfy, comfy sofas and my 2 other bar companions and I were ejected and left to try and sleep on some painfully hard airport seating. The news was not all bad, I thought. I did have a 14 hour layover in Santiago and this way, when I landed, I would be just in time to catch my next flight to Easter Island. 

If only that were so. The best is yet to come.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt

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