From chilly to Chile

(Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport)–There will come a time, I’m sure, when someone will ask, “So where were you when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States?” I will answer, “San Jose, Costa Rica.”

That question may well be followed up with, “So, then, where were you when he was inaugurated?” Then answer will be, “Vina del Mar, Chile.”

Though I probably knew it before I actually realized it, Chile is in the southern hemisphere. This means a number of things to me, not the least of which is that I will for the first time in my life me able to see the water in the toilet swirl in a different direction. This fact alone inspires me to go into the trip with a sense of optimism that doesn’t fit with the current situation. (Well, if Mexico was any indication, something interesting will pop up.)

The situation is as follows. I spent a week and half in the Bahamas sans family. Upon my return (less than one week ago), I essentially checked into a hotel for a week. To answer your question, no, my wife did not kick me out. Though by this point she probably had the right to throw my luggage on the lawn, she has been gracious enough to let me sleep and shower in my own house. I probably owe her an ice cream or vacation to…well, wherever she wants to go. As for why I was in the hotel, that is a story for another day.

Now, I’m back at the airport where the lady behind the bar informed me, “We don’t sell beer on Sundays. We sell soda!” I’m drinking a soda while I watch the Philly-Arizona game. The lady who sold me the Diet Dr. Pepper likes the Cardinals. It’s probably best she didn’t serve me beer.

When the family woke up this morning, it was snowing in Greenville, SC. My boy sat at the window and watched the flakes fall and melt. When I next wake up from a night’s sleep (likely some 36 hours from now), it will be 90 degrees in Vina del Mar. The coastal resort town an hour west of Santiago is experiencing a pretty nice damned summer. If it weren’t for the fact I was leaving my family for the fifth time in three months, I would have no reason to complain. When I next see a shower, it will be Monday morning. From red dot to red dot, I travel.


This is the life I chose. At this moment, I have friends who are leaving Biloxi for flights to Australia, another sitting at LAX heading to Chile, and countless others hopping flights to Deauville, France. This is what we do.

My kid barely seemed surprised this afternoon when I pulled out my bag and filled it with enough clothes for the coming week. He, instead, surprised me by grabbing a small model puma and giving it to me. “He will keep you safe,” he said. “His name is George.”

The ride to the airport was uneventful. We talked about going to a movie and various other things. It was only after we’d hugged goodbye for the last time that the boy broke my heart again.

“Daddy, one more thing,” he said from his booster seat in the back. “Be safe so you don’t get in a plane crash.”

I don’t freak out on flights and the Hudson River story won’t change that. I’ve never been afraid to die. It’s only been since I’ve been a father that the concept of dying has changed. I now actively think of ways not to die so my kid can grow up with a dad, no matter how flawed that dad is.

And, so now to Chile. It’s a week on the peso, a week on the beach, another week in a hotel, another few days in a casino watching people play cards.

Finally, a strange note. When I arrived way too early for my flight, there was only one other person in the Delta line. I overheard him tell the gate agent, “I’m going to Chile.”

I turned and asked, “Are you seriously going to Chile?”

“Yes,” he said. “Santiago.”

I smiled in a way that should’ve looked uncomfortable. “Me too,” I said and went back to getting my boarding passes.

Right now, I’m sitting at a beerless bar watching a football game. There is one other person at the bar with me.

He’s going to Chile, too.

I’m glad I have George the Puma.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. change100 says:

    Hate to burst your bubble this early in the trip, but the water does not swirl the other way in the southern hemisphere. This, I learned after pointing a video camera at a toilet in Australia…and also the drain in the shower.

    I was extremely disappointed.

  2. otis says:

    Well, don’t I feel silly. And disappointed. And silly.

  3. Ricky says:

    Kids say the darnedest things, don’t they? Well have a safe trip and enjoy the weather! I’ll be thinking about the sun while I’m in the frozen Atlantic City playing the BWO…..bleh

  4. F-Train says:

    Southern Cross, man. You can look in the night sky for the Southern Cross. There’s a whole new sky of stars waiting for you down there.

  5. Da Goddess says:

    Take photos of those stars! And keep George close at hand. I really like that kid of yours. He’s awesome!

  6. AverageWhiteBoy says:

    That looks like a long flight, Otis… due south for a workday. Your boy is awesome, by the by.