Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Long Good Friday the 13th

Yesterday was Friday the 13th and, whenever I'm in South America, I have to remind myself that it's not bad luck. In the Spanish-speaking world, Tuesday the 13th - martes 13 – is the day and date to fear. When marketed in the region, all those grotesque slasher movies had to be edited, with misleading subtitles, for cultural reasons.
I've never cared enough to sit through one of those movies, but I came perilously close to a disastrous 13th this week. I was due to fly from Los Angeles to Santiago on Thursday the 12th, arriving on Friday the 13th, and ultimately did - as the seatback video screen above shows - but not before getting a scare. It was not the slasher sort of scare, nor was it an airplane problem, but it briefly unnerved me.

On Wednesday I intended to drive to LA, spending the night at the house of friends before catching my Thursday afternoon flight. As it happened, I left the house a bit late to pick up my rental car at Oakland International Airport and had to rush through a couple errands before returning home for my luggage. I quickly loaded the car, gave the dog a bone in the backyard, and then headed south on the MacArthur Freeway.

About ten minutes out, for some reason, I experienced the uneasy suspicion I had forgotten something (for me, packing is the worst part of any trip). The feeling was strong enough that I left the freeway and started going through my bags with only a general notion that something was wrong. It became very specific, though, when I found an empty leg pouch that I had chosen as a backup to the one with my passport and US$2000 in cash - which was nowhere to be found.

I didn't quite panic but, not wanting to return home, I did another quick search before concluding that I had to do so. Another problem was that, before leaving home, I had dropped my house key into our mail slot, so I had no certain means of entering without contacting my wife at work - which I preferred not to do. Fortunately, just before I left, I had seen the next-door neighbor, who has an emergency key, but I have never entered her number on my phone. Thus, I had to drive back and hope she'd be there.

Fortunately she was home but, unfortunately, she couldn't find the key, and I was almost resigned to interrupting my wife at work. Then a near-miracle happened - another neighbor was walking her dogs and, when she heard about the situation, she volunteered the fact that she had a key to our house (I had no idea she had one, and my wife later said she'd forgotten about it).

So, a happy ending, except for the hour and a half it delayed my departure for LA (where my friends and I dined late – for them, at least - at a Brazilian restaurant). I shudder to think what would have happened had I arrived in LA with neither passport nor cash, which would have delayed my departure until at least Friday the 13th - or, for all I know, the next martes 13 (which takes place in September of next year!).
My arrival in Santiago, as indicated in the map above, was a more agreeable experience – though I only managed about two hours of sleep in a 36-hour period. I topped off my Friday the 13th here with a visit to MOVINight 2015, a major tasting event for the Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes – an alliance of small-scale bodegas producing, for lack of better world, craft wines. It was at the Centro Cultural Matucana 100 (pictured above), a great facility I had never visited before, and I managed to see a few friends and acquaintances there – thanks largely to Courtney Kingston, of Kingston Family Vineyards. I also got to sample an unusual selection of wines - there were also beers and even whiskey, which are not to my taste - and when I returned to my Santiago accommodations, that helped me catch up on my sleep.

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