Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Here is a map showing the air routes Dawn and I took on our recent trip to Chile. The hook from Miami to Ft. Myers is due to a storm closing the airport diverting us, where we had to refuel. Other than that, the return trip followed the same path, taking us right over Cuba and Panama. Hopefully you can ZOOM IN on this one, like I can:
Travel was the most tedious part of our adventure. Chile is one hour ahead of the east coast, but this is negated by the fact that they do not observe Daylight Savings. Yet even without having to change our watches it was still almost a full 24 hours - including layover - and thus tiring.
We were also beset by many misadventures and instances of incompetence and bad luck. Consider, for example, the first of many problems which I noticed an hour into the first flight on a new place. Seats are floatation devices, right, so not exactly absorbent, and yet the one I sat upon (technically Dawn was assigned to it!) managed to slowly wick through my jeans the damp evidence of the previous flight's passenger's accident. Yes, it was urine, and I suspect (hope) that it was some little kid upset by some turbulence who let out some wee. Why he/she or his/her mother failed to tell one of the flight attendants I'll never know, but there I was, given a new seat cushion by a very apologetic hostess (Gwendolyn) who gave us free drinks and promised an agent would help us out (buy new pants?) when we landed. Until then I stood at the rear of the plane trying to get MY rear to dry off. I know, gross. Travel: it broadens the mind, and you get to sit in someone else's pee. (Luckily it was nothing approaching a soaking or drenching, just slightly damp.)
But this was not to be. Our flight was diverted from Miami to Ft. Myers due to bad storms. We had to refuel, and there was much confusion aboard about connecting flights and the like. Fortunately Dawn's iPhone app told us our connecting flight was delayed - but probably just because the airport was closed, not just for our benefit. When we again made our way across the Floridian peninsula and landed, the pilot overshot the gate, so we waited another 15 minutes for a tug to move us back where we belonged. After fighting through most of the passengers convincing them that we'll miss our connection, we BOLTED for our flight. IT JUST LEFT THE GATE! And yet the woman was able to stop it and "drive" out the "entry tube" so we (and one other) could make the flight. Looked like my opportunity to purchase (or have purchased for me) new pants were on hold for another 8 hours. Yay. (I packed clean underclothes and a shirt in my carry-on, but all my pants were in the checked-in bags.)
The rest of the flight, though long, was event-free. It was an overnight flight, so after a movie and (gasp! - a free meal!) we got a bit of sleep. Not much. Landed in Santiago and had to reclaim our baggage. IT WAS NOT THERE!! So on we went to Calama (smaller plane, great coffee and snacks) without our checked-in luggage - or pants.)
Upon landing in Calama I went through all the motions to acquire our rental vehicle. My email printout did not have the agency name and it seemed none of the Spanish-only speaking knew what to make of my reservation code. When the stoned-looking Budget/Avis agent appeared, all went well - which is more than I can say for the luggage. After a while, and a claim filled out, we were assured it would be there the next morning. So off we went to our reserved lodging (Agua del Desierto) which quite a nice place with a restaurant. I got a brief (and chilly!) peek at the southern sky stars I would be observing the following five nights. Took a much needed shower - and sleep.
Now that we were on the ground I will continue this story when I post the photo depicting our land meanderings. Stay tuned!


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