The Mutiny on the 7-2-7

unnamed-2In the mid-1970s, Gary and I decided to go back to Lima, Peru to visit his parents before they moved back to America after over a dozen years abroad.

Peru was pretty much the same. If anything, it seemed to be economically worse off. As I sat alone in a car, young women would approach me with a baby in arms and hands extended to beg in Spanish, "Please, please Señora, hire me as your maid!" All were desperate for a job, any job, and the food and shelter that would come with it. So many desperate women.

When the time came for us to return home to Vancouver, British Columbia, we went to Lima's international airport for the late night Canadian Pacific flight. As the night wore on, I wore out. Falling asleep on my husband's shoulder, I would periodically awaken to hear that yes--the flight was delayed. And delayed and delayed yet again.

Rather odd given I saw the airplane parked at the gate outside the window. Whatever was the problem? No one seemed to know--some things never change in air travel. The CP route flown up and down the coast was like clockwork; Vancouver to Mexico City, to Lima, Peru and on to Santiago, Chile where the airplane would turn around to do it in reverse.

Slowly the news oozed out to we waiting passengers. Due to winter delays--a freak snowstorm in Vancouver--the flight had gotten behind schedule. To make up for the lost time, the airline decided to turn the airplane north at Lima. The passengers going to Santiago, Chile would do get there tomorrow on another flight.

But the Santiago passengers didn't believe it. They believed they were being dumped in Lima, Peru. They'd lived for years in a world where promises meant less than the air it took to make them. As they saw it, it was our fault that the airplane had not continued on to Santiago. Fed up, tired and skeptical of promises, they decided to hold a sit down strike of the airplane by not disembarking.

Who could blame them? Well as the night passed, we could. For although sympathetic, we waiting passengers faced our own problem. We wanted to go to our destinations too.

The airline gave one final ultimatum. Either the hijacking passengers were to get off the airplane now and go to Santiago, Chile the next day in another airplane, or they would be returned to Vancouver and forcibly removed, losing any unused portion of their tickets. The hijacking passengers folded.

As they began to leave the airplane they glared and spat verbal abuse at us, how dare we take possession of their airplane.

It was the first time I was glad that my Spanish was so poor.

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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