Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

My flight from the US to Chile is imminent... a countable number of hours away. I won't be more specific just in case I do have an internet stalker who would love to foil my plans... with my luck in this move, that might just be the case.

I can't believe the departure is finally here. It has been an exhausting week, packed to the minute with last minute details and good-byes.

We had to go to Houston on Monday for our last papers. The legalization of my university documents and the kids emergency travel papers (in lieu of a Chilean passport to enter Chile as Chilean). It had to be left to the end because they give you a window of 10 days to travel. So the timing of everything has been a little stressful.

It is about a 2.5-3 hour drive. About an hour into it, we started having car problems. We decided to risk it and keep driving. We HAD to make it to the consulate. There were a few scary moments, but we got to our exit, pulled up to a red light and the car died... like died, died-couldn't even pull the key out of the ignition.

But considering a quite unfortunate situation we were VERY fortunate!

We were two blocks from the consulate.

We were right next to a Starbucks and 3 guys came over and helped push the car into a parking lot.

One of the three guys used to be a mechanic at his parent's garage, so he set us up with towing numbers and his parents. He looked under the hood and said it was the serpentine belt (runs the alternator--all the power for the car)

We finished our activities at the consulate and got the car towed to this guy's parents' shop.

His parents are perhaps the sweetest people we have met in a long time. The man is in his mid 70's, has had a heart-attack, and is hard of hearing. His wife of 60 years works by his side, helping run the same old-time garage for over 50 years. All of their 5 kids have worked there at some time.

Our car isn't very common in Texas (where you are no one if you don't have a Ford 150-it is bizarre) so it was hard to find the part. This little old woman called and ran all over Houston, until 8:00, trying to find the right size belt finally found one, but the store closed. So we had to wait until the next day. The man had been helping entertain the kids with little Texaco trucks from the 50s and 60s. The woman took us to Target to get some supplies and then to a Hotel nearby.

In the end, the bill was much less than we had imagined. the belt itself cost about 70 and I think they charged us for 1.5 hours of labor, plus the towing, so it was not the catastrophic amount we imagined when we broke down.

We were so moved by the generosity of these people, going way above and beyond what a normal garage would do for you... so sweet! He even asked for our address so he can send us the photos he took of my filthy kids playing with trucks.

It was one of those experiences that alters your view of humanity.

We drove back yesterday and have since been lost in a whirlwind of tasks.

......and my next post will be from SANTIAGO, CHILE!!!!!


Sara said...

Good luck with your journey! I'm headed northwards again :( So we'll be crossing paths over the ocean perhaps?

mosey said...

Now that's a story. At least it wasn't the alternator itself which would have set you back another few hundred smackeroos. So glad that even in the midst of stress and rushing and pandemonium, that the universe sent you some salt-of-the-earth help in the form of that couple.

Fly safe, my friend. And my love and best wishes as you embark on this new chapter....

Heather said...

Have a safe trip! I hope to meet you one of these days. :)

Danielle said...

That is incredible! Thanks for sharing this uplifting story!

Dee said...

Good luck and safe trip. Glad the car thing worked out in the end. Was that the last kick in the you know where from the US? I look forward to your next post from Chile.

Marmo said...

Que tengas un muy buen viaje, y que llegues muy bien junto a tu familia. ¡Y que todas sus cosas lleguen bien también!
Te escribo en español para que te vayas acostumbrando xD

Abby said...

Eeeeh!! Buen viaje, Annje y familia!

Nos vemos en Chile. :)

Eileen said...

wow. the kindness of strangers. Enjoy that and all the other love that's coming your way. I can imagine where you are right now (and it's raining tonight, so I hope you're above the clouds). Wishing you a peaceful landing, and let us know when it's time to come and welcome you! Looking forward to meeting you and your family!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

This is such a great story. I'm always a little nervous about being taken advantage of by mechanics. It is very nice to know this isn't always so. They treated you so well. What a nice send-off for you. Your new adventure is around the corner, or maybe you are already on your way. Enjoy!

Phoenix said...

Safe journeys to Chile, Annje! And I'm so glad that one of your last experiences in the US for awhile was of people being kind and generous to you. This is one of the many, many reasons I love this country so much.

Can't wait to read all about your adventures in Chile :)