We were sitting at gate 22a in Santiago airport in silence. Wade playing on his phone and me silently flicking through the pages of my Lonely Planet guide pretending to read up on our next destination. Every now and then I'd look up and see yet another confused tourist scratching their head, glancing at their boarding pass then staring at the mixed bunch of people seated in the waiting area. Part of me wanted to help them. Part of me just couldn't be bothered.
You see, for two people that don't often fight, Wade and I had just come out the other side of an epic airport argument and were now in part 2 of said argument - the silent treatment. In our defense we were running on 6 hours sleep, a 2.5 hour flight at 7am, an "oh shit I've lost my bag" moment (false alarm) and had now been sitting in Santiago airport, waiting, for 5 hours. Yeah an argument was gonna happen at some point, in fact i won't rule out that one of us probably started it just out of boredom!
Then on top of all of this, we checked in for our much anticipated flight to Easter Island and were told to go to gate 22. When I tried to ask the girl behind the counter a question, she rolled her eyes called the next person forward and freakishly lost her ability to understand my terrible Spanish or English for that matter.
Now, technically, Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a territory of Chile, thus making the flight domestic. However, on the other hand, Easter Island is 6 hours west of Chile, isolated in the Pacific Ocean, halfway to Australia, and geographically a part of Polynesia. Oh yeah and it's also the most isolated inhabited island on Earth. So in many ways, it wouldn't have been all that surprising if the flight departed from the international terminal either.
So what's even more confusing then is that gate 22 - the gate on our boarding passes - is in the international half of the airport and don't ask me why, but the next gate - 22a - is separated by 3 security checks and a series of locked glass doors as is it in the domestic half. I mean, really Chile? Since when do airports add a cheeky "a" or "b" their gates?!
So for a "technically" domestic flight, we were being directed to boarding gate 22, in the international terminal.... Confused? Now you know how we felt!
It was around this time when all hell broke lose and we began arguing. It started with the argument over whether the flight was international or domestic but somehow ended with me losing my shit over Wade spending our last $15 on a sandwich. Come on, don't pretend you haven't been there!
We somehow managed to agree that the flight "should be" domestic and meant going to gate 22a however Wade was still inclined to follow our boarding passes which clearly indicated gate 22.
In the end it was easier to get to gate 22a and required less time going through security screening so we decided to suss that option first. If that failed then we would face the music and go in frantic search of gate 22 at the last minute.
My heart sank when we arrived at gate 22a and the TV screen above the door had our flight number but a destination of Isla de Pascua. Where the hell is Isla de Pascua?? Surely Easter Island aka Rapa Nui doesn't have third name!
I quickly and not-at-all stealthily, snuck around peeping over the shoulders of waiting passengers in an effort to read their boarding passes. By the time I had seen four boarding passes clearly stating the destination as Easter Island, I was quietly confident that we were in the right place. Ten minutes later and a quick Google could've saved an argument when we confirmed that Isla de Pascua is the Spanish name for Easter Island. Of course it is. We finally slumped into empty seats at the boarding gate, exhausted and yet not willing to accept that we were probably even on the argument scorecard with points for and against each of us.
Slowly the lone confused tourist scratching his head, became an angry mob of 30 shouting at an airport staff member through the glass doors separating gate 22 from gate 22a. If Wade and I weren't in the middle of a silent argument, we would've been thoroughly enjoying the whole saga, alas our stubbornness meant we had to sit in silence and snigger, quietly to ourselves.
The angry mob continued to enlist lone confused tourists searching for answers, while those of us who were seated, sat in smug silence pretending we knew exactly what was going on while secretly hoping our once in a lifetime flight wasn't going to leave without us.
Finally, the mob chose their leader and a booming angry voice shouted to no one in particular, "For Gods sake! Which damn gate do we go to for Easter Island??"
With a thousand smart arse comments piling up in my head, I finally burst into a rambling fit of laughter.
"I TOLD you it wasn't just us!"
Enthusiastic but Useless Traveler.