After the lounge receptionist failed to find UK, Great Britain, England or similar on her computer we had entered the VIP Pacific Club lounge at Calama’s tiny airport as Afghans. First nationality on the drop down list!
We found our seats and an ever willing Chris returned with several small bottles of 7 Up, some of which were secreted into bags for the flight. Stale cheese sandwiches greeted “VIP” lounge guests so lunch consisted of a banana and a can of Heineken, the only free alcohol available.
Flight 131 back to Santiago did what most planes do. Loaded up the passengers efficiently and then arsed about taxiing alongside the runway of an empty airport for thirty minutes before taking off.
It was a juddery take off to say the least. As we left the ground everything stuttered and I feared a crash landing in the desert beyond the runway. Fortunately we soon found altitude and the juddering faded away. Stunning desert landscape one side. Stunning snow covered Andes on the other.
It’s a shame to leave the Atacama. It’s undoubtedly been the reason for visiting Chile from the perspective of Chris and I’ve found it not just different but inspiring. San Pedro is a huge road trip from Santiago and is a different world. One we’re sad to leave. As we entered the airport ahead of a ninety minute flight we saw a coach commencing a sixteen hour journey to the capital. I’d been tempted a few months ago. I was relieved I hadn’t succumbed now reality of flight or road trip set in.
Tomorrow sees the fourth part of this adventure. Milan, Santiago and San Pedro ticked off and Easter Island, courtesy of flight six, awaits. Biggest plane I’ve ever been on.
Tonight, the Holiday Inn at Santiago Airport awaits. 20,000 IHG points paying for a ridiculously over priced hotel room. I’d normally expect 0.4p a point in value. This place gets me 0.9p. Shame those points are about to run out after this trip!