Flight 130 left Santiago on time. Views of modern housing estates, untidy industrial units and the poverty of the shanty villages clear to see as we left the runway behind.
Chile feels like a country that’s modern and very westernised. But it does carry with it an underclass that feels to be missing out on the economic progression that has undoubtedly been achieved.
As we move higher we squeeze uncomfortably between two mountains and above the murky pollution that often hangs over the city. A brief glimpse of the Andes before cloud cover hides them beneath us. And then, unexpectedly, they reach out above those clouds with a serene ice capped majesty. This is tremendous.
Meanwhile Chris is fighting his own silent battle with the Diego Maradona lookalike sat in front of him. Quite why planes enable seat recline on short haul flights I don’t know. Being able to sit at a five degree angle for your own comfort at the expense of any comfort whatsoever for the guy behind you is a ridiculous notion. Subtle accidental seat kneeing has no effect.
The magnificence of the mountains continues. I’ve seen the Alps from the sky but this feels better. Maybe it’s because I’m further away from home. Maybe the Andes just better. They’re certainly higher and longer!
Thoughts of crashed rugby players eating their dead team mates in the 1970s spring to mind. Diego doesn’t look tasty. Hopefully we will make Calama airport. After all, this does feel like a modern plane!
Eventually the snow turns to brown rocks. The mountains fall back to the border and we begin to descend.