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Published: February 22nd 2015
Today I took my flight from Santiago to La Paz. I’d left my packing to the last minute which made the morning more stressful than it needed to be, but I’d packed my food for the airport the night before, got the metro at rush hour with all my backpacks, got a bus from the centre to the airport, checked my luggage in and got through security with plenty of breaks for coffee and plenty of time to relax. Security was relaxed. The only items that were prohibited on the plane were explosives, sharp objects and fizzy drinks. I suppose the liquid laws haven’t reached Chile yet, and perhaps terrorism from Islamic groups is non-existent here.
The first flight which took about 2 hours dropped us off in the middle of the desert in Iquique, still in Chile. We, the passengers, all had to get off the plane together, go through passport control and then all get back on the plane together. This took an hour. As it was a clear day and I had a window seat I could see the places we passed over from the plane. On the advice of the German man who I’d met on my first long bus ride, I’d decided not to take the bus to Iquique up the west coast of Chile. I was very glad I didn’t because when I looked down from the plane I saw that everything he’d said about the bus ride was true – it was a long, seemingly endless stretch of flat road with nothing but the ocean on one side and desert stretching for miles on the other, and no sign of life or even beaches to look at.
My second leg of the journey began in Iquique and went directly to La Paz within about 50 minutes. Ronald was waiting for me at the airport, just after customs where he took a picture of me on entering the country. I was smiling as customs hadn’t taken my two biscuits from me, my Alfojaja, Chile’s national biscuit which I’d got as a present for Ronald and a ginger biscuit which naturally I bought for myself.
We had a coffee at the airport and caught up on old times. I was having to move very slowly with the high altitude. Because I felt light-headed and very tired. moving too fast would suddenly make me feel very dizzy. However, once I got out of the airport this dizziness turned to a feeling of a surrealism. Ronald said
‘’When you leave the airport you are going to feel like you have travelled back in time’
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