February 9, 2000
Chillin in Chile
What are the odds of a flawless International flight when all you have to worry about is you? What are the odds of a flawless flight when roughly 250 people, their bags and bikes are involved. By the time we reached Santiago, we learned not every bike-including mine- got on the same plane.As the organizers sorted out the details, we got an extra day in Chile's largest city.
Santiago has been the country's capitol since 1810 when the country gained independence from Spain. Chile is split into thirteen regions and is run by an official appointed by the President of Chile. Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the longest country in the world and is diverse in its terrain and people. But don't go to Chile thinking the magnetic pole will make the toilet flush the opposite direction.
One of the riders in our group is from Chile. Anthony Montgomery became our official ambassador to his country.
My tendency was to think of every country south of the U.S. border as the same. They are not. During the twelve days we spent in Chile, I was impressed by not only the Andes but the lowlands with fields filled with wheat, watermelon and vineyards. I didn't realize this until I got to Chile but mysterious Easter Island more than two thousand miles away is part of the country.
Farther south, there are volcanoes and ski resorts and a hotel built as an homage to Frank Lloyd Wright. Anthony says he wants people to know his country is developing--trying to get better--and is worth a plane ticket to visit. I agree. By the way, my bike did make it to Chile...with another stop. It's now visited one more country than me--Peru.
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