I arrived in Paraguay at 4am yesterday, after a morning flight the previous day from La Paz to Lima, which was followed by an excruciating 13-hour layover. At 10pm, topped off with Xanax, I boarded my flight to Asuncion. I know I hate to fly, but…
Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean [they're] not after you (apologies to Kurt Cobain). Warning signs:
- The plane is a janky, half-ass, Third World carrier, and looks it.
- The Captain warns passengers in two languages prior to takeoff that, “you’ll need to keep your seatbelts tightly fastened” for the duration of the flight, due to “severe turbulence” over Juliaca and La Paz.”
- The flight attendants all look like they don’t give a shit, and when you request a blanket from the big male one, he throws it at your head.
- The tough-looking Bolivian guy seated next to you crosses himself at takeoff.
- You’re rudely awakened from your Xanax slumber by aforementioned turbulence. Which is reality is a violent drop in altitude that causes the entire plane to gasp in fear (you, being you, wake up screaming, “What the motherfuck?!“).
- Approximately 75% of the passengers are the Paraguayan National Futbol Team (and their trophy, which needed its own seat). They don’t strike you as the type of guys who get worked up over a bit of turbulence.
- The futbol player across from you remains rigid and mute for the remainder of the flight.
- Upon landing, with all the delicacy of a watermelon being hurled from a roof, the entire plane applauds. For a long time. You discover this is a Paraguayan tradition.
- Before you deplane, a flight attendant walks slowly down the aisle blasting a can of insecticide (I’m sure it was FDA-approved…not).
P.S. My brother called me out for not mentioning the obvious, which is a different sports team having flight problems over the Andes. His final chastism? “And you a food writer.”
In my defense, Alive was all I could think about during my flight, and I was entirely convinced that by having those thoughts, I was going to screw us all.
I’d also like to point out that it was an Uruguayan rugby team, and that I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Meat is meat. You should have seen what was in the empanadas I ate this morning.
I will say that Nando Parrado is one of my all-time most-inspiring heroes, and if you haven’t read Miracle in the Andes, his autobiography of the tragedy, you should. Regardless of your feelings about flying and eating human jerky.