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Angie & I left home in Wiltshire at around 10 a.m. on Friday 3 November, to visit my parents and leave my car in their care before taking a taxi to near by London’s Gatwick Airport. Strict security measures, following terrorist alerts a couple of months earlier, had eased a bit, but were still cause for some concern as the details of weights and contents of hand luggage presented a few challenges. We were comfortably within the overall luggage weight restrictions but my rucksack (‘hand luggage’) was weighed down by a laptop, two cameras, an extra lens and an array of chargers etc (why does each manufacturer insist on producing its own, unique, charger for each model?) and easily heavier than the 8 lbs suggested by the  signage at the airport. No one seemed interested and we progressed on to the flight to Madrid and (after the usual ‘essential’ hours of waiting) the 13 hour flight to Santiago. Yes, direct to Santiago, without the stop and change of plane at Buenos Aires experienced in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Clearly we don’t travel enough, as we were unaware of the on-line check in facility that would have enabled us to reserve the favourite extra leg-room seats with easy window & aisle access 24 hours before  departure. As a result we found ourselves in the middle of the plane, where Angie at least had an aisle seat. My solution is to focus my mind on where I’ll be after the flight, so I pictured myself on the rocks at Pichidangui, with Pacific Ocean waves breaking, causing a light spray for the benefit of the local flora that includes Eriosyce chilensis (albidiflora), E. subgibbosa and E. curvispina (mutabilis), Eulychnia castanea and Echinopsis (Trichocereus) chiloensis.

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