I heard the landing gear drop and looked out the window to notice that we were going WAY faster than normal for landing
. Iīm no expert mind you, but after hundreds of landings during my life I can tell what is a normal speed for an airliner at landing. The wheels squealed as we hit the tarmac and we screamed down the runway. It was then that Laura asked, "why are all these fire trucks following us?" "I donīt know," I said, "but some thing's going on, look at all the people watching us land." Yes, not only were we surrounded by every emergency vehicle at the Iquique Airport, but every buildingīs occupants were out in front of their building, staring out at the runway. It was about then that the engines were reversed and we lurched forward. With our large audience and emergency escort, we taxied to the terminal.
We all deplaned and walked to immigration as mechanics moved in on the plane. Our flight to Santiago was three hours away so we knew that we would not be on that plane, but we still wanted to know what happened. Nobody ever told us. The flight for which that plane was used was delayed for two hours while they worked on whatever was broken. Meanwhile, we decided to go outside and look around. Dazed and confused we scanned the desert mountains looking for something interesting. A vast expanse of nothingness lay before us. If you seek solitude, come to Iquique. We discussed the possibility of having crashed, died and now being in hell. However, since there was a bar in the airport with a good beer selection, I decided at the very least this was purgatory. Hell would be a dry county or serve only wine coolers.
As our plan lifted off from La Paz, a loud squeal and vibration came from the wings. I didnīt think too much about it at the time. During the flight we had several abrupt changes in air speed. I didnīt think about that at the time either. Our flight crew announced our impending landing and everyone took their seats. Forty-five minutes later, we were still in the air. "How long does it take to land a plane?" I thought. Ten more minutes passed and we had descended to about 1,000 feet. for the record, Laura was downing anti-anxiety medication like it was going out of style. All of this travel has actually made her more of a nervous flyer than she was when we left. This flight was truly challenging whatever remnants of sanity she had about flying.