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2015 Air Travel: Fly the Friendly Sighs

Note: A post in October about lifelong friends brought comments and questions from the far corners of the world… mostly California. While much has changed, it appears there is always room for the relationships that matter, and the ones that have fallen away to be revived. Simply put, life shifts. If we have a plan in place and make strides towards success, life sometimes moves to accommodate the differences, including those to whom we relate, no matter how far the distance.

Earning My Wings

A month without writing compares sparingly to three months flying from Colombia to the US and back. Celebrations, events, and of course, the holidays, with a visit to the Colombian Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. This being a second annual visit to the office in Sandy Springs, it felt a bit like living in South America: getting easier with each year.

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Hello Hudson River, New York!

With the mention of flying, gratitude resounds from a year that flew by. Professionally, continuing to enjoy work as an educator at a fantastic school in South America: developing skills as a teacher of ICT, and super-nerding-out at home to videos about microprocessors and ViewMaster in 3D.

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With my awesome gringa co-teachers at Aspaen GCI

Personally, many moments with others worth recalling. Three family weddings. The birth of an adorable nephew. Reconnecting with former classmates, and conversing with new people during lengthy air travel.

Friends since childhood… they are all so beautiful!

Entertaining guests who visited and appeared to delight in Colombia’s 481-year-old city. Making fun, new friends on Friday night Chiva tours. Reveling in the proof that sharing joy with others is usually reciprocal – what you give is often returned.

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Love these Chiva party-people!

Stats needed, STAT

But back to the three months of flying. Living close to the Cartagena airport is beneficial to this life. Hearing planes take off overhead evokes the idea that someone is on their way to a new location. Watching travelers arrive and depart is both enlightening… and exhausting. Calculating notes from a well-appreciated AAdvantage frequent flyer account, since June these are some interesting statistics:

Distance flown: approximately 11, 716 miles/ 18,855 km (thanks, WebFlyer!)
Airlines flown: Avianca, American Airlines, United (US Airways), Delta
Airports visited for flight connections: 8 (but it felt like 15)
Airports visited: Cartagena (CTG), Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Houston (IAH), Atlanta (ATL), Charlotte (CLT), Charleston (CHS), Baltimore-Washington (BWI) airport codes are awesome
Shortest layover: 35 minutes, spent sprinting in FLL between two very distant gates
Longest layover: 15 hours, spent sleeping in a nice hotel near the ATL airport
Hours spent in air travel: approximately 54 (guessing… it always feels like more)
Cost of checked bags: $0.00 (thanks, American Airlines!)

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Avianca, let’s do this!

Gracias a Díos

These stats are both staggering and hilarious, with sheer gratitude given to the Airline Gods who ensured, like a holiday wish come true, that each flight was as uneventful as the last and well-deserving of thanks:

For checked luggage that was never lost. For some airlines serving meals (Avianca – a hot meal – always so classy) and all airlines serving complimentary drinks and snacks. For flight attendants being continuously helpful and cheerful, even offering free warm face towels (thanks, Delta!) to both first and economy class. For current on-board magazines, including the beautifully-designed Revista Avianca and American Airline’s wonderful Spanish and Portugués publication, Nexos, rich with intriguing articles.

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A row all to myself and my favorite magazines, woot!

For check-in counters that were busy but moving swiftly and security lines that were long but well-organized. And, finally, for only one TSA agent who seemed aggravated during a pat-down, when the underwire of my bra poked out like a weapon. “Miss, I recommend you visit the nearest rest room and remedy the situation,” a firm but polite inspector said. Noted, sir. (Ma’am?)

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New Friends at Fleet Landing in Charleston SC

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. – Henry Ford, American Businessman, 1863 – 1947

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Celebrating my return home with Jugo de Maracuya!

As the final flight of 2015 Travel, from Atlanta to Cartagena, landed in Rafael Núñez International Airport on January 1st, 2016 (15-hour layover, started in 2015!), stars were thanked and blessings counted, following a cliché New Year’s Eve not quite worth remembering. Hopefully for everyone, the year ahead holds greatness and a promise to stay on course, even through life’s bumpy turbulence and changes in (personal) atmospheric pressure.

Author: Kate Dana

Teacher, traveler and writer living on the Caribbean coast of South America.

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