It is impossible to sleep on a plane. The past nine hours in the darkened cabin were a claustrophobic nightmare of shifting around and wishing my seat would tilt back just a smidge more. In order to keep my sanity, I remembered why I left Wyoming in the first place: to spend a semester studying abroad in Santiago, Chile. I shed the poor excuse for a blanket, sat up and looked around the cabin. The rows of seats were filled with people from all over the world. Some of them sleeping, some reading, some watching movies on their computers, but all were heading to the South American continent for some reason or another. Up the aisle I could see the flight attendants waking people up, and handing out breakfast. As she neared, I nudged the man sleeping next to me in the window seat. Talking earlier, the man had let me know he was Argentina bound for some Dove hunting. After the attendant gave us a warm croissant, some apple juice, some cheese and crackers, she informed us that we were flying over the Andes right now.
The man pulled up the window shade, and my stomach dropped. Looking out the window I could see a picturesque view of La cordillera de los Andes. The sunrise tossed different shades of orange against the clouds, and from these clouds emerged the largest mountain peaks I had ever seen. The endless mountains seemed unreal as the wind threw dust into the air off their snow-covered peaks. It was then I realized there was no turning back now. I had left my home in Wyoming–ten acres and a few horses–traveled half way around the world, and was about to land in a city of six million Santiaguenos.
A bell chimed, the fasten seatbelt sign lit up, and the pilot’s voice echoed throughout the cabin saying we started our descent. I buckled my seatbelt, took a deep breath, and got ready. Not for the descent, but for a new adventure. I got ready to experience something I had never done before. And, after nine sleepless hours in a cramped plane some 30,000 feet in the air, that felt pretty damn good.