Holiday in Chile (10): back to Santiago and home

On Friday, we took the first of three flights to get us back to London. The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago involved some excitement even before we boarded as, for three of the group (including Silvia and me), seats were only eventually allocated at the boarding desk. None of we three sat together. The flight was almost three hours.   

We now had almost exactly 24 hours back in Santiago before we took the other two flights home. 

Just half an hour or so after checking in back at the San Francisco Hotel where we stayed before, seven of the 10 members of the group, plus our guide Valentina and her husband Mario, had a Last Supper. It was at an indigenously-themed restaurant called “Mak Te Mak Te” named after the god worshipped by Easter Islanders. The group members insisted on paying for the dinner of Valentina and Mario as partial thanks for her being such a wonderful guide. 

Saturday morning saw different members of the group going in different directions on extensions or to home.  Silvia and I had the morning to fill and, together with Andrea, we took the metro to visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Opened in 2010, this commemorates the victims of the coup of 1973 and the subsequent 17 years of totalitarian rule. Some 40,000 victims were subjected to torture and execution. Although most of the descriptions are in Spanish, one can download a very informative English-language app.

It seemed a respectful way to end a wonderful trip.

Our flight from Santiago to Sao Paolo was three and a quarter hours and the flight from Sao Paolo to London was another eleven and a quarter hours. Altogether we had done nine flights in two weeks. If that was not disorientating enough, since we had left the UK, there had been a dramatic change of Prime Minister and, on the day we left Brazil, there was the second and final round of voting for the next President. Turbulent times.  

These two weeks in Chile have been very different from my earlier four weeks in Central Asia in September, but that is what travel is all about – lots of different experiences.  

Above all, this holiday was different because, although we were only in one country rather than four, we experienced such extremes of temperature and climate: the dry heat of the Atacama Desert, the sunshine of Santiago, the temperate weather of the Lake District, and the strong, biting winds of Patagonia.  This required the wearing of different clothing but we had prepared for that. 

We had some fabulous experiences: flamingos on the salt flats of Atacama, sky gazing at San Pedro de Atacama, the boat ride on Lake Todos Los Santos, the awesome scenes in Torres del Paine national park, and the boat ride to the Grey Glacier.

I designated this ‘the year of travel’ to make up for two years of covid. Plus: who knows how many more years I have for this type of travel? So this year I have had three trips totalling 7 weeks and 8 countries. Home now for a while …


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