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We arrived at the port of Valparasio and city of Santiago after being on the ship for twenty-four days. We would fly home that evening but first we had a ten hour shore excursion ending at the airport. We will do city tours of both cities with an included lunch between the two towns.

A few facts about this area…
Chile is 3500 miles long (so if you turned it sideways it would be 500 miles longer than the U.S. However it is only 100 miles wide. The geography is very diverse with a large desert in the north and glaciers in the south. Mountains run through the center of the country and it is very beautiful. Economically 35% of the world’s copper comes from here.

The cities were founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia. Actually Valparasio was founded in 1536 but did not become a permanent settlement until 1541. For the most part since there were no cities and no gold the Spanish were not too interested in this area. However de Valdivia saw the agricultural richness of the land and decided to conquer the area.

Wars with the natives and natural disasters like earthquakes and floods did not stop the people from rebuilding. Although aware of its past, Santiago has grown into a modern, industrialized city. Pinochet was a military dictator who took over from 1972-1989.

He seized power from the democratically elected Allende and preceded to torture and murder Chili citizens. Finally he went to England for back surgery and was forced out of office. They wanted to try him for human rights violations but the trials were continued until he finally died of a heart attack in 2006.

Originally the country was a colony of Spain but they became independent in 1818. However the Catholic Church and the state ruled together until 1925 when they finally separated their powers. Today there is a Congress and civil liberties have been restored. The country is considered a Republic and an elected president is only allowed to serve one four year term.

Santiago is in a bowl shaped valley 75 miles east of Valparasio in the shadow of the Andes. The population is 6.3 million while the port of Valparasio has only 876,000 people.

The Plaza de Armas is the heart of Santiago where bullfights use to be played. It is also the home of the Metropolitan Cathedral which was built between 1748-1800. The church actually sits on the site of 5 previous churches all destroyed by earthquakes.

Our tour guide’s name was Max and it was a nice day for a long bus ride. He took us through Valparasio which is a port city mixed with both old and new sections. There were a couple of very old buildings downtown that could not be saved after the earthquakes so they kept the façade and built a brand new building inside each one.

Since the city is built into 42 hills they also have what they call funiculars. It is a track that goes one block straight up a hill with a cable car you ride to get to the top of the hill. They are all over the city and pretty interesting to see.

Then we traveled through the upscale seaside area of the city on our way inland to the wine country. We had a two hour lunch, including alcohol. I kept drinking water in anticipation of our long flight home but my brother had the alcohol.

After lunch we had an hour and a half drive through the Coastal Mountain Range to Santiago. It was a beautiful drive but was a little hazy due to the contained fires just south of Santiago. My brother slept through the drive.

After our tour of Santiago we were dropped at the airport at 7:00p.m. We had a 10:30pm flight. My brother still did not drink water but had two cans of soda before the flight instead. You can probably guess I am a big proponent of drinking lots of water, especially before international flights.  Naturally he coughed all night long, waking me up constantly.

Our plane flew into Dallas at 5:15 a.m. We had a connecting flight to Phoenix in two hours and finally on to Yuma. I knew we might have trouble getting to the gate on time in a big airport like Dallas so I ordered a wheel chair.

My brother was skeptical and antsy but the thing about a wheelchair is they notified your next flight you are in transit so they will hold the plane a couple of minutes if necessary.

Being in the wheelchair we went right to the head of the two custom areas we needed to go through and then right to the head of security (when you go through customs you are outside the airport and must do security again).

After that we changed to golf carts. It took 3 different carts to get us to our gate and we only had ten minutes before boarding when we arrived. Without the wheelchair we would not have made it.

Phoenix is a big airport but easy to navigate; so no wheelchair was needed there. We walked as fast as we could and made it to our Yuma gate with three minutes to board! However our luggage did not make it.

American flies four times a day between Yuma and Phoenix. When we got to Yuma we had no bags but when I checked they had already been scanned for the next flight. So we took our carry-ons home and an hour and a half later we were back at the airport getting our regular suitcases.

Ray’s coughing thing turned into a bad bronchial infection and several days and a doctor visit later he still was not well. He had finally switched from soda to tea and he finally drank a bottle of water!!!!!

Our South Seas adventure was now officially over. We would always have great memories of our trip and hopefully I can get back to Australia sometime to see more of that wonderful country.

***Note***  I am having a special book sale.  If you go to my website (www.kileenprather.com) you can preview the first few chapters of each book.  I am selling the books for $10.00 apiece and if you buy three or more, shipping is free.  For more information email me at:  kileenp@gmail.com.

 

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