Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stranded in Natales

It’s not me, as I’ve just returned from Rapa Nui (Easter Island, about which I’ll write more in the coming days) to Santiago de Chile. My 20-year-old daughter Clio, though, has written me from southernmost Patagonia, where her progress has been slowed partly by her learning the ropes on her first major trip to southern South America, partly because public transport connections are less than perfect (she spent a night sleeping in the bus terminal at Río Gallegos, Argentina), and partly because public workers’ strikes have slowed the crossings on the Chilean side of the border (in one instance, she had to wait five hours to cross from Chile into Argentina).

It’s also because the buses from Puerto Natales (Chile, pictured above) to El Calafate (Argentina) have been so full that she had to wait several days in town to get a seat - which suggests that, despite the global economic crisis, Patagonia remains a hot destination.

For my part, I’ll soon be heading north into the Atacama desert, as I prepare the upcoming third edition of Moon Handbooks Chile. The southern summer is approaching - temperatures in Santiago reached the eighties today and, after midnight, it’s still warm here. Because of the cool Humboldt current, though, coastal Atacama remains relatively mild, and other key destinations, such as San Pedro de Atacama, are high enough that they cool off at night, even though the days can be warm.

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