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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

A Long and Thin Strip of Letters

CHILE | Monday, 23 October 2017 | Views [283]

It's perhaps the most poetic way to describe Chile. The title is inspired by the name of a puzzle geocache I've been working on, though still haven't solved. It feels great to finally be here, as I've now travelled to 39 countries!

First I'll describe all the heartache it involved getting here. The ticket I originally booked with Avianca (the state-owned airline of Colombia) had me on two flights: LA to Santiago with a stopover in Bogota. Within the past week, it was changed twice and in the end I had four flights: LA-San Salvador-Bogota-Lima-Santiago. The total flight time would be only about five hours longer than originally but I was annoyed at all the extra stops. Only then did I learn at LAX that pilots with Avianca were on strike, and I immediately asked if we had "scab" pilots flying the plane. Mr. Hanley would later tell me that's a great question. One of the few TV shows I enjoy is the Air Crash Investigation series, and by only a day I missed meeting a pilot who made a spectacular emergency landing on a levee outside of New Orleans (the episode is called "Nowhere to Land"). Captain Carlos Dardano flew the San Salvador-Colombia route only yesterday, and I would have liked to have met him. What made his feat more amazing is that he has only one eye. Through all four flights, food and drinks onboard were free, and a few glasses of wine and chatter with some fellow passengers would ease my boredom a bit.

For my first night in Chile I arrived late, and I couldn't be bothered hitchhiking into Santiago. The bus would drop me a fair distance away from the home of Milena, my CS host, and I had a prostitute hissing at me on downtown Santiago's deserted streets at 3:30 AM. Milena and her friend Carla would welcome me into their home. Carla works as a social worker and has a lot of experience with children with autism. For my first drink in Chile, she made me a "piscola" which is pisco mixed with Coca-Cola. In Peru, I never tried a pisco sour. Up late, Carla and I chatted about all sorts of stuff.

It was a beautiful day, and I don't usually sleep much the first night after arriving in a new place so I got out there. Entry to the Museo Historico Nacional was free. Views of the Plaza de Armas are lovely from the tower.

This is the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago, built between 1748 and 1800. In Chile, 39 countries I've now reached. As a rare example of an elongated country (Vietnam is another example), Chile is regarded as difficult to govern. Made up of 15 regions, each is numbered with a roman numeral, I through XV, hence the title. Logistics are an issue in Chile because to drive from Santiago to Punta Arenas, you must pass through Argentina. With only six days between now and my flight the Falkland Islands, I opted for a domestic flight instead of hitchhiking to Punta Arenas as going through Argentina and the uncertainly of hitchhking in a new country would add extra hassles. Santiago has its own kind of buskers. 

After a lovely wander through the Plaza de Armas, I went out in search of a few geocaches. In Chile, unlike many other places, it's not a simple matter of buying a SIM card and topping up with credit, you must register your mobile phone with the government. According to Carla, it's due to people buying phones on eBay or Amazon and having them shipped to Chile. For now, I must go geocaching the old-school way. There are many mystery caches in Santiago but they are difficult to solve. With a few days in Santiago I'll be sure to work on them. From here, the quest for the holy grail of all continents, Antarctica, begins...


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