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After a week of hard rain (80 mm in one day at Boscombe Down, about 1 km away!) the calendar has moved to October with just one month to go before Al Laius, Ian Twaites, Angie Money and I head off to Santiago de Chile for three weeks of cactus hunting in the Chilean Atacama Desert. This time we fly via Toronto, Canada, not the first place you think of when looking on how to get from London, England to Santiago, but as the earth is round(ish) I guess that it doesn’t really matter how you get round the globe.

Things left to do, in no particular order, include:

  1. Pay the deposit to confirm the car rental agreement that is already in place.
  2. Book our flu jab for Angie and I at the local surgery
  3. Check that our travel insurance is up to date
  4. Take the photographic equipment for a test drive, next time the sun here dares to show its face.
  5. Check our passports are still valid.
  6. Obtain our eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) to transit in Canada.

My intention is to produce daily reports of where we are, what we’ve seen and how the environment where our favourite plants live, survives in the harsh conditions. I travelled to Brazil around the same time last year and still struggle to complete the Diaries for that adventure. It seems that my laptop and software is so keen to protect me when I travel away from home, that it freezes my accounts when it spots when I move! Fingers crossed that it behaves this time.

Correspondence with friends in Chile suggest that they have had very little rain this year, so that the chances of seeing the Desert in Flower are low. But such events can be very localised and one afternoon of light rain can trigger a local flush of blooms, so we’ll have our cameras ready.

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