As predicted yesterday, this message is written from the comfort of my living room in Amesbury where I’m adjusting to time differences.
There was just a brief moment of concern when I was unable to check in on-line and the automated check in system at the airport told me to see an Iberia official. Iberia told me that their flight that I was booked on does not fly on a Friday! Well, my ticket says otherwise! After questions were fired up and down the line of check in officials it transpired that on Friday’s this flight is managed by LAN Chile – so over to a check in desk at the other end of the departures hall where everybody was trying to get on a flight to Lima, Peru. At 6ft 4″ I stood out like a giant amongst Peruvians whose average height was under 5 ft. I have no idea why I tend to be concerned that my hand luggage might be oversized or overweight when you see the wardrobes on wheels that others get away with!
By about 16:00 hrs I finally had my boarding tickets in my hand and made my way over to the Gatsby cafe / restaurant overlooking the departures hall, where I had arranged to meet Florencia Señoret. Her talk the previous week in Antofagasta about cacti and conservation and how propagation can help species threatened with extinction in nature. The case of Eriosyce riparia, where all we could photograph were lorries and diggers at the only location that this plant occurs as far as we know is a compelling example and raises a number of interesting questions. Where as hobbyists are often the main explorers looking for cacti these days, concerns about illegal collections by other hobbyists can lead to secrecy that then prevents government agencies responsible for ensuring that plants threatened by major construction projects, such as the widening of the PanAmerican Highway, are rescued before the construction work starts.
The hour we had was soon over but we’ll see if we can travel together again in the future, either in South America or in Europe.
Once through security, I had soon found the ‘llama’ (cardigan made from alpaca wool) that Angie had spotted for me in one of the souvenir shops and still had time for another coffee before boarding, departure and sleeping through the rest of the day.