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The final leg – the journey home

As the meeting was brought to a close, we arranged to follow Frankie and Peque back to Santiago. This turned out to be an ‘interesting’ drive, as we had to negotiate a very windy road to get us back to Ruta 5, in the dark, in thick fog, with cars fully laden with people and their luggage. The Kia’s gear ratio was just not right for this type of driving and I was continually changing through the full range of gears to try and keep up with the lead car. It was quite a relief to get to the airport and to say goodbye to our very dirty cars – its amazing to think what punishment they had taken on the often challenging tracks. They had served us well.

Sleeping in airport departure lounges is never ideal, but turned out to be a good idea as the fog outside had not lifted at all. Our early morning drive in the dark from Olmue would have been extra stressful in the knowledge that we had a plane to meet!

The representatives of LYS Rent a Car met us as arranged and formalities were completely quickly and pleasantly – I’d recommend them to others – but do insist that you get the car that you want!

As our check-in time approached, we became aware that many flights had been cancelled. The fog was so thick that our departure was delayed by three hours. Such delays roll on, so that with further delays in Buenos Aires, chances of making our connecting flight in Madrid were minimal. We eventually arrived at London (Gatwick) Airport nine hours late, to the unaccustomed sound of a heavy rain storm on the glass roof.

Previous experience had learned me to prepare for a mild dose of ‘post-trip depression’ and that the best therapy is to write up your notes and sort out your pictures while things are still relatively fresh, if muddled, in your memory. These Copiapoathon Diaries are the result.

Another therapy consists of planning your next trip, before the plane touches down in England, so Marlon, are you ready for Brazil 2005* ?

* Since the trip, Marlon accepted on opportunity to study for his PhD at the University of Zurich, so that his availability for a trip were unclear. Instead, some of us decided to join Guillermo Rivera for a guided cactus tour in North West Argentina, but not before I sneaked back to Chile in October 2004 with Anne Adams and Alain Buffel – but that’s another story.

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