Panama > LAX.
The airport in Panama, whose name now escapes me, is apparently one of the greater hubs for Latin American travel. Between my two gates, arriving from Los Angeles and departing to Chile, I passed gates heading everywhere from Sao Paolo to San Juan Batista, Lima, Quito, and many more. My layover was just long enough to get my bearings and check in at the counter, as they boarded the plane about an hour and a half early.
Today was my first real test of my Spanish skills, something I was both dreading and eagerly anticipating, as I (attempted to) chat up the couple next to me on the flight from Panama -> Chile. Though no doubt I missed most of the nuance of what he was saying, and no doubt presented him with a blank deer-in-the-headlights after the occasional sentence, I was able to gather that he – Guillermo – and his wife – Anna – are visiting Chile for the next couple of weeks.
The couple, hailing from Costa Rica, have five sons, the youngest of which is my age (22) and studying Business Management at a private school in San Jose, Costa Rica. Talk about their professions confused me a bit, as he said that he is (or was?) a florist, but now he and his wife are “pensionados.” I took that to mean that they were on “pensions,” as though they had worked for years and now receive income because they are retired, but after some pantomiming it seems he actually meant they were on some kind of government assistance program, like Unemployment Insurance, both because of hard economic times and because his wife had had three surgeries and still was not able to work (at this point they said a word I didn’t understand, and now don’t remember, and pointed to her back, though the word was not the word for back I know, espalda, so who knows?).
What was especially hard was trying to describe to him the subject of the book I’m reading, about Minor League Baseball. The best way I could figure out how to say it, “niveles de deportes,” or “levels of teams,” or something, didn’t really help, but we had a nice talk about baseball and soccer (fútbol).
Later he and his wife moved to open seats at the back of the mostly empty plane, giving me full room to stretch out, a godsend after 19+ hours of cramped travel.
We’ll be landing soon, and I’ll do my best to find my host family, and try to keep updated as much as possible.
note: you may have noticed that these last few posts were all updated at the same time. I’m without internet most of the time, and I’m here at the UC center in Chile, so I’m updating all at once. I wrote the majority of these posts at the time.