Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Booking the Flight: Stories from A to Z

One Sunday afternoon in November, my youngest son called me. “Guess where I’m going next summer, Mom.” 

“Sri Lanka?” I knew he had been looking at volunteer opportunities there. 

“Chile. I’m going for the eclipse and plan to stay three months.” 

“I want to go with you!” 

Forrest hesitated. “I don’t know what my travel plans will be. It’ll be traveling around and staying in house-sharing situations. Couch-surfing. Maybe work different places as a volunteer.” 

"That's fine. You go do whatever, and I'll find a little casita to rent. Then when you take a break from traveling, you can come back to my little house while you decide what to do next. I’ve always wanted to go to South America!”

I was a new widow, and all my kids were being very good to me. Perhaps I took advantage of it in Forrest’s case, but South America! 

"Well, I guess so. If that’s what you want." 

Over Forrest’s Christmas break from school, we decided to go online to see about flights. 

Delta had good ones at the best prices and offered an immediate discount if you applied for one of their credit cards. Forrest often utilized credit offers to get free money, being disciplined and organized enough to pay them off right away and avoid trouble. The best flight departed at four pm from Portland, where he lived at the time. It had a layover in Salt Lake and in Atlanta, then arriving in Santiago the next day at noon. 

We had vague ideas about what to do once landing in Chile. Forrest said he would look for couch-surfing opportunities. I searched and was surprised by how inexpensive small hotels were in Santiago. We needed a place near the bus station since we planned to take a bus from Santiago to Coquimbo, a town on the direct path of totality. 

We would leave for Chile end of June and come back end of September—three glorious months. Forret would get his summer abroad and I would walk the earth for real. Not driving a car on American freeways. 

He booked the tickets.

 “Merry Christmas to us,” I said. 

“Yep, Merry Christmas to us, Mom. We’re going to South America.”


  1. Jealous is what I am. I love South America. I went to Peru in the 80s and have always wanted to go back anywhere in South America. What a wonderful three months. Yep, I know Forrest is going to couch surf with you. Great roommate who can tolerate everything about him. Well most.

  2. Forrest was a loving son doing that. I hoped you enjoyed yourself. Traveling in South America can be tricky,

    1. He is fabulous Forrest. All my posts this month will be stories about our trip. Thanks for visiting, Roland!

  3. I too have a yen to go to South America...

  4. Your kiddos, like mine, manage to cover all corners of the earth. Personally, I wish they stayed closer. But I can't deny the enrichment their journeys offer not only to them, but to me.

  5. How awesome! I can't wait to hear about the trip!
    My blog has moved, you can find it here:

  6. Adventure ahoy. Wow, I'm in for the journey... more please.
    With smiles, Jenny

  7. That is so brave of you to go on such an adventure! Of course, if you can drive the 405, you can do anything!

  8. This is Birgit…your husband would be proud of you. How wonderful to take this adventure

  9. I have a feeling that quite an adventure awaits. I've never been off the North American continent. I've never thought about visiting South America as an initial destination, but I might have done it for a total eclipse of the sun. It must have helped to have your wonderful son in the general area.


Comments are welcome!