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It was about 3:00 on Friday afternoon, 2 November when Angie dropped me off at the Terminal 2 Car Park at London’s Heathrow Airport. Unlike last year, she would stay in the UK as her holiday entitlement for the year was already used / committed.

I was quite early, as our flight was not due to leave until 18:35, but the road systems around London are often heavily congested, particularly on a Friday afternoon and Angie had to be back home in time for her son Adrian to come home from College.

As I pushed my trolley into the departure hall, I bumped into Cliff Thompson, who had arrived even earlier by coach. John Childs and his partner Billy, and Andy Woods from Cardiff had also beaten me to the airport. Soon we were joined by Leo van der Hoeven, Sarda & Ian Woolnough and Mike Harvey. No sooner was the party complete, it started to break up, as we were split over 4 different flights to Santiago, due to the different times of booking the cheapest flights. So, while Andy & John flew with Iberia from London to Madrid to Santiago, Sarda & Ian, Mike and Cliff caught the Air France flight via Paris while Leo and I had the best deal for our longer flight from Swiss Air, via Zurich and Sao Paulo in Brazil. Billy stayed behind and would join John at the end of the Copiapoathon proper for a three week non-cactus holiday. So, potentially a recipe for disaster with so many bodies and their luggage taking so many different routes to the same place. However, it all went very smooth, without any hiccups, except that Mike nearly missed his flight as Security wanted to have a chat about his Swiss Army pen knife that he had forgotten to remove from his hand luggage.

Leo and I had an uneventful flight to Sao Paulo and on to Santiago

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