Monday, November 20, 6:18 pm

You have been on the go all day. Finally, you have a few hours in the evening to just relax. So you’re sitting in the bar of the lodge, staring at the spectacular view. You have hundreds of pictures yet to download from your camera from the last two days and you can’t wait to see them but you just want to sit here and do nothing. You have seen all kinds of flora and fauna for the first time.

Scenery that knocked your socks off. Weather that included brutal winds, sleet, snow, rain, clouds, and sun. You have hiked to places you never imagined you’d ever go.

Today I know exactly how you feel. Continue reading “That feeling”

Saturday, November 18

We flew SKY from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas, a flight of a little over two hours. SKY is the budget airline of South America, and it felt like it. So it was good to get off the plane. We met Kris, our local guide, and got on our bus. On the way into the city we made a stop at the Nau Victoria Museum.

Punta Arenas lies at 53 south latitude, equivalent to the Aleutian Islands (at 53 north). Over the course of the afternoon and evening we have spent here, we’ve had sleet, snow, rain, sun, and lots of wind. Continue reading “A One-Night Stand with Ferdinand Magellan”

Saturday, November 18

This morning we have a 10:30 flight from Puerto Montt to our southernmost destination, Punta Arenas (literally “Sandy Point”), on the Strait of Magellan. To get to the airport we have to ride the bus a half hour to get to the ferry, then the half-hour ferry ride back to the mainland, and another hour after that. So we had 6:00 breakfast, 6:30 “bags out,” and 7:00 departure. So I got up at 5:00, did all my morning stuff, had breakfast, and now it’s 6:30, so I thought I’d get a head start on recapping the last day and a half. (I’ll continue on the plane.) Continue reading “Los pingüinos”

Thursday, November 16

Today was not about seeing beautiful scenery or learning about history or politics or economics or geology.

Today was about people.

Specifically, today was about the people of Pargua, a community of about 800 on the north shore of the Chacao Channel separating Chiloé Island from the Chilean mainland. We spent a good part of the day in Pargua. Continue reading “A Day in the Life”

Tuesday, November 14

As the crow flies it’s only about 80 miles from Bariloche, Argentina, to Puerto Varas, Chile, but to drive around all the lakes took the better part of the day. And that was to our benefit, because we got some beautiful scenery all the way. It was remarkable how quickly the terrain transitioned from the high desert (aka steppe) to forest to mountains.

We exited Argentina after a few hours’ drive; then we drove for an hour more and crossed the actual border into Chile, but we didn’t arrive at Chilean customs and immigration until about an hour after that. Then after another hours we stopped for lunch at a dairy farm with a little restaurant, and adjacent to the restaurant was an antique car museum, consisting mostly of Studebakers. Not the museum we expected to find on a dairy farm in the Andes. Continue reading “Back into Chile”

Sunday, November 5

We had a very early start this morning, departing from our Santiago hotel at 6:55 to get to the airport and fly to Rapa Nui. We flew on a 787 Dreamliner, my first time on this plane. Instead of window shades, they have buttons under the windows that allow you to darken them or “open” them. Other than that, it’s an airplane.

We landed at the airport here early this afternoon after a 5 1/2 hour flight (it’s two hours earlier here than in Santiago). We were greeted by our local guide, Tongariki, who presented each of us with a lei, and we rode in a van to our hotel, dropped our bags, and headed to a nearby restaurant for a lunch of scrumptious tuna and cheese empanadas.

Then we visited two extraordinary sites: the extinct Rano Kau volcano, and the Orongo ceremonial village. Continue reading “Iorana”

I’m very excited about my next trip, which will take me to a new continent (my third after North America and Europe). I’m going to be spending four weeks visiting Argentina and Chile (with a brief jaunt into Brazil).

I decided to try a tour this time, and I have mixed feelings about it. I am sure there will be times when I miss the independence I have come to cherish when I travel, but I am also hoping that having all the arrangements being taken care of for me by someone else will make it less stressful. This trip also covers a lot of ground: in addition to my flights there and back, there are seven internal flights and some long travel days. There are also some cultural exchange activities that would be very difficult to organize on my own. It’s also a tour that is guaranteed to have no more than 16 participants. so that should make it much more pleasant than traveling with a large herd of tourists. I’m hoping all these elements outweigh the negatives of traveling with a group.
Continue reading “South America Bound!”