Just arrived in Chile. This is my first time traveling to ski somewhere I can actually speak the language (well, besides New Zealand and, uh, Canada), and I've already surprised myself with my ability to communicate at least at a basic level. People keep coming up to Elitsa and me and offering their transportation services. Eventually we'll need some, but for now we have a couple hours to wait for CDY's flight to get here. Then the plan is to head to our hotel here in Santiago, drop off our mountain of baggage, and then hit the town. Tomorrow morning we'll return to the airport and meet all the rest of the athletes and coaches when they arrive, then take our chartered bus to Portillo.
"We" will consist of Kevin Jardine, head coach of the Challenge Aspen disabled ski team (and former U.S. disabled head coach); current U.S. head coach Ray Watkins; his wife Gwynn (now an assistant coach for Aspen; a few more Aspen hangers-on; and a motley crew of athletes from Aspen, Winter Park, Breckenridge, and points beyond. The U.S. disabled team will be represented by me, CDY, Elitsa, and supposedly Joe Tompkins, who no one's seen training or racing in a year and a half but who has a way of popping up unexpectedly.
We'll train in Portillo for about two weeks and then drive back to Santiago, where the rest of the guys will fly back to the States. But for Elitsa and me, the trip will have just begun; we'll spend the next week traveling around Argentina and possibly Uruguay before returning to the U.S. on October 11.