I’m on my way to the Galapagos Islands via a ‘slow boat to China’. I’ve just landed in Santiago after leaving home nineteen hours ago. I have a six hour stopover here before a four hour flight to Lima, Peru. Then I have an overnight stop for twelve hours and a final three hour flight to Quito in Peru. I have a few days of activities there before flying out to the Galapagos Archipelago.
I’m very grateful for the ability to have a shower at the LATAM VIP lounge here at the Santiago airport. I don’t quite feel quite like a million dollars – perhaps just half a million – but pretty good, none the less.
Normally, you can get quite a dramatic view of the Andes which form a backdrop to the airport here but today is overcast and the mountains are mostly hidden by cloud. I took this photo out of the window as we landed and this is the most we are going to see on this overcast day.
I wouldn’t normally write a post after just one segment of a journey but I have some time to fill in and a bit of a story to tell.
On the flight from Sydney, I sat next to a charming young woman. I guessed that she was of Vietnamese ancestry and sure enough, she was. Her name was Michelle and she was on her way to Chile with some other students from UNSW for a work experience unit in their business management degree.
She explained that her mother separated from her father in Vietnam before escaping as a refugee by boat to Malaysia and then eventually to Australia in the late 1980’s. Her mother worked very hard to educate Michelle and her brother. She began by working in a factory and then did a variety of other work to feed, clothe and educate her family. I’m sure that Michelle is very grateful for her mother’s hard work and I’m equally sure that her mum would be very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments at university. This is certainly a family to be admired.
The most amazing thing was that her parents came from the town of Ba Ria in Vietnam. Every Australian Vietnam Veteran knows Ba Ria as it is the capital of the Phouc Tuy Province (as it was then called during the war. It is now known as the Baria – Vung Tau Province). It was just a few kilometres from our operating base at Nui Dat. Michelle and I had quite a chat about life in the town as well as the surrounding area. We both knew many of the nearby villages and surroundings. I found it quite amazing to come across someone who was born in this rural area of Vietnam while on my way tp South America.
I am very confident that it was not this Michelle who featured in the story about a man going to a fancy dress party in the nude and piggy backing a woman. When he was challenged by the doorman, who thought he was dressed obscenely, the man explained that he was going to the fancy dress party as a turtle. Incredulously, the doorman asked “So, what is that woman doing on your back?” The man replied “That’s Michelle!”
I’ve positioned my myself in a corner of LATAM’s lounge where I have a power point from which I can charge my computer. All I need to do is stay awake for a few more hours and not miss my next flight which departs in about four hours from now. The couple at the next table are also Australians (from Melbourne) who are travelling on the same flights as me to join a Scneic Tour of South America that begins in Quito.