Third Time Lucky!
As many of you will know, we had originally planned our trip to Chile for the end of 2020, but a pesky little pandemic rather got in the way!
We thought we'd reschedule for a year later, but although restrictions were slowly starting to ease as 2021 progressed, it became clear that it was still unlikely to be feasible. We were concerned that the logistics of a complex trip like this would be too tricky even if it became theoretically possible, but in the end it was academic anyway.
As I say, though, there was progress, and some parts of the world were re-opening to international tourists, so we managed a couple of weeks in the Caribbean in January 2022. (That story is here.)
And now, finally, late 2022 is upon us, and touch wood, it'll be third time lucky!
Mind, there is still a slight hiccup in store for us.
A couple of weeks before we're due to leave, Amanda's mother is feeling unwell and having some difficulty breathing. The diagnosis is bronchitis, and some antibiotics should clear it up in a few days. They don't. She gets worse and ends up being rushed (rather slowly, because the NHS is cracking at the seams) to hospital. They do tests, find she now has pneumonia, low sodium levels and various other not good things. They start various treatments and tell us that the next 48 hours will be critical.
To be fair, the horror stories we've been seeing on the news are a lot worse than our experience. The hospital looks like it's operating at full capacity, but not beyond - no patients in corridors, no standing-room only reception areas, none of the nightmares that some hospitals are apparently suffering.
Amanda's sisters Jo and Harriet, now living in Australia and New Zealand respectively, frantically book the first flights they can get to the UK.
The 48 hours pass, but there's no real resolution. It seems clear now that she's unlikely to recover, but quite how long she'll last is hard to say. The family gather round for what we all know are probably her last few days, and she tells Amanda and me in no uncertain terms that we must take our holiday as planned!
In all honesty, it's sad but not tragic. She's 93 and had a good life, and really she has had enough of her world closing in as she's become frailer in the last few years. After seeing all her children, she's ready to go. She's put on to palliative care only, and the doctors and nurses do what they can to make her comfortable.
So the matriarch has spoken and we must obey: we're off to the airport!
Oh, and just to add a little more spice to our lives, Border Force staff have planned strike action and there are risks of severe disruption to travel. Gee thanks.
There have been a lot of strikes lately. Nothing like the famous "Winter of Discontent" in 1979, but pretty much the worst since then. [Aside: this is another totally out-of-context use of a Shakespearean phrase that means nothing like the original. The line from Richard III wasn't about a season when everyone was miserable, it was a bleedin' metaphor! The king says he was feeling pissed off until the duke came and cheered him up, just as the arrival of the sun turns winter into summer. But I digress.]
[Oh, and another digression. Traditionally, the Tory party are supposed to be the people who understand business and markets and stuff like that. How if demand exceeds supply, prices rise until balance is restored. So the demand for public services clearly exceeds the present supply, but the government is not going to spend any money to increase it. Given that increasing the supply by forcing people to work regardless (ie, slavery) is frowned upon these days, as is reducing the demand by just telling people to piss off back home and take their cancer with them, there's only one possible outcome: ever-increasing numbers of people struggling to find access to services that just aren't there. As best I can tell, the unspoken logic is, "You people don't vote for us, but to give you more money, we'd have to take it from people who do. So you see the problem?" Not that the Labour Party is much better. As I've thought for some time now, the problem is that Marx was right about the conflict between capital and labour but wrong in his conclusions: capital is winning and is only going to win more. That's because until relatively recently, workers' fears about being displaced by machinery were always wrong (in general, if not in specific cases). There were always new things that only humans could do that created new economic value. That's changing. Ironically, the things machines find hardest to do are mostly the things humans find easiest, but because they're so easy for humans, almost anyone can do them. That's why someone can be in full-time employment yet still need to visit a food bank because they don't earn enough to live on. They can so easily be replaced that they have almost no bargaining power with their employer. There's actually a very simple engineering-style solution to the problem, "universal basic income", but implementing it properly is essentially political suicide, so all the trial projects so far have been pretty 'meh' at best.]
Hmm, was that a digression or was that a rant? You choose.
But anyway, that last fear turns out to be unfounded. Perhaps partly because airport passenger numbers are still down, and partly because the potential problems would be greater for incoming than outgoing travellers, everything is fine getting through check-in and security.
It's finally happening...
[And now for a bit of a first: this blog is a lot longer than any I've previously written, and some of them were already getting rather unwieldy as monolithic web pages, so now, TA-DA!, chapters!]
Christmas Eve - Heathrow
Christmas Day - Santiago
26 December - Santiago
27 December - Santiago to Coyhaique
28 December - Coyhaique to Puerto Guadal
29 December - Puerto Guadal
30 December - Puerto Guadal
31 December - Puerto Guadal
1 January - Puerto Guadal to Caleta Tortel
2 January - Caleta Tortel
3 January - Caleta Tortel to Villa O'Higgins
4 January - Villa O'Higgins
5 January - Villa O'Higgins to BordeBaker Lodge
6 January - BordeBaker Lodge
7 January - BordeBaker Lodge to Santiago
8 January - Santiago to London