The day of my flight, I was up at 3:30 a.m. frantically tossing things into my bag and caught a shuttle to Reagan National since it was too early for Metro. As soon as I was in the van, I thought I had forgotten my camera - cue panic! But, no, it was safely in the bag. Same for the passport.
At the airport, there was confusion since the system had somehow put my fights in the wrong order, but a wonderful ticket agent from United got everything sorted and I was on my way.
The first flight landed late and I raced to the next gate and made it just on time, to sit between a baby and a guy backpacking in Honduras. He moved to give the mom more space, but I was desperately wanting to talk to him more since he'd been to Chile and was a political science doctoral student.
Another late flight put me behind in Honduras, a landing that was already nerve wracking because you come through the mountains and at the end of the runway, it just drops off a cliff basically into town. Yikes! Someone from Copa came to walk me through the airport, skirting customs and all kinds of things to get me to my next flight. I never would have made it on my own. On that flight I got upgraded to first class and had a row to myself. The flight attendant called me Miss Jennifer and was patient in explaining things to me in English since my Spanish is lackluster at best.
That flight was on the ground in Costa Rica for about 30 minutes before taking off again. I still had a row to myself and it was glorious. Then we were in Panama City. Thankfully, you don't have to go through customs there if you're connecting and made it just in time once more to my last flight.
Once in Santiago, you have to pay a $160 fee, since we charge Chileans to get into the U.S. I made my way through customs and caught a cab to a hostel where I didn't have a reservation. Arriving at 3:30 a.m. local time, they were incredibly accommodating to find a bed for me to crash.
All that to get to Santiago. Here's a look at the place.