The powerful earthquake that struck near Concepcion Feb. 27 will affect Chile for years. While much of the country’s tourist infrastructure was undamaged and tourism officials are urging travelers not to cancel their plans to visit, the impact on Chile’s citizens could last a long time.
The New York Times reported that many buildings in Santiago appeared unscathed from the outside, but inside, they were heavily damaged. Other reports suggest that rebuilding will take three to four years. And the quake created little curiosities, such as moving Concepcion 10 feet closer to the sea, and Buenos Aires an inch closer. The temblor could even spike the cost of paper 5 percent and take a huge bite out of the supply of Chilean wine.
Spud Hilton reported in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day a new spin on the top 10 lists we always see at this time of year. Not the best beaches or golf courses or hot cities for the new year, but the Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations.
The list was compiled by Jeff Greenwald and Christy Hoover at EthicalTraveler.org, a nonprofit organization (part of the Earth Island Institute) that urges travelers to spend their travel dollars in ways that protect human rights and minimize impacts on the environment. They acknowledge that no country on the list is perfect (what country off the list is?) but they found lots of hope and inspiration in many places. Continue reading »
Triporati’s Chile and Argentina expert Wayne Bernhardson reports that the future is uncertain for the national park comprising the Juan Fernández Archipelago, which includes Robinson Crusoe Island. The report on his blog for Moon Guides says that the government is considering building a road from the airstrip to the village of San Juan Bautista.
Is a road from an airstrip to town such a transgression? Well, maybe if it’s through landscape Wayne describes as “one of the most scenic and solitary [walks] I’ve ever done.” Right now to go from the village to the airstrip requires a four-hour walk or a one-hour sail, but isn’t that what you’d expect on an island where castaway Alexander Selkirk lived alone for four years to become the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Robinson Crusoe? Continue reading »
As I wrote in a post on my own blog earlier this year, Chile and Peru dispute the origin of the addictive aperitif known as the pisco sour, the welcome drink at nearly every hotel in both countries. I enjoy both the Chilean and Peruvian versions, but I never expected to read, as I did in a recent Huffington Post, that George W. Bush had broken his personal prohibition pledge at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, with a pisco sour.
On my last night in Santiago de Chile before heading north into the Atacama desert for several weeks, I enjoyed a fish dinner at Ostras Azócar, one of the city’s classic seafood restaurants. In tribute to Mr. Bush’s rare indulgence of good taste — and his imminent departure from the U.S. presidency — I ordered a Peruvian pisco sour (pictured here). I’ll have at least one more on January 20th, and I’ll hope that he enjoys many more in the coming years.
By the way, despite what the Huffington Post piece suggests, there is no such thing as non-alcoholic pisco, which is at least 30 to 35 percent (60 to 70 proof) alcohol. In fairness to Mr. Bush, refusing it would not only have violated diplomatic protocol — it would have been extremely rude in the Peruvian context.
It’s not me who’s stranded, as I’ve just returned from Rapa Nui (Easter Island, about which I’ll write more in the coming days) to Santiago de Chile. My 20-year-old daughter Clio, though, has written me from southernmost Patagonia, where her progress has been slowed partly by her learning the ropes on her first major trip to southern South America, partly because public transport connections were less than perfect (she spent a night sleeping in the bus terminal at Río Gallegos, Argentina), and partly because public workers’ strikes have slowed the border crossings on the Chilean side of the border (in one instance, she had to wait five hours to cross from Chile into Argentina).
It’s also because the buses from Puerto Natales (Chile, pictured above) to El Calafate (Argentina) have been so full that she had to wait several days in town to get a seat — which suggests that, despite the global economic crisis, Patagonia remains a hot destination.
For more details, please visit Southern Cone Travel.
Last week I got a note from the operator of a small tourist lodge in Tierra del Fuego asking me what I thought the impact of the current global economic crisis might be on this summer’s season. On the surface, of course, it makes sense that people whose mutual funds have lost a third of their value might be reluctant to spend money traveling great distances but, at the same time, there’s a certain logic in going against the grain. I’d never suggest that people should throw away their retirement funds on a two weeks’ vacation but, just as investor Warren Buffett recently said, he’s moving his money into U.S. stocks because of the financial meltdown, international travelers may find they’ll get more for their money in traveling to the Southern Cone countries. Continue reading »
Nearly thirty years ago, when I first visited Argentina during the Proceso military dictatorship, an apparently drunken policeman in the Patagonian town of Puerto San Julián insisted in telling me how much he loved Americans. In those grim days, any such attention from an official figure made you uncomfortable and, as it turned out, the policeman in question was heavily medicated - having shot himself in the foot the day before.
Fortunately, Argentina is a stable democracy now, but that doesn’t mean the country doesn’t shoot itself in the foot sometimes. Last week, interior minister Florencio Randazzo announced that the country would institute a “reciprocity fee” - similar to the one collected by neighboring Chile - on foreign visitors whose governments impose visa fees on Argentine citizens. This would mean, for instance, that US citizens entering Argentina would have to pay US$131 per person for the right to enter Argentina, while Canadians would pay even more. Australians and Mexican would pay less. Continue reading »
It’s time to think about traveling to the Southern Hemisphere and, over the next several weeks, I will be giving slide talks about Patagonia and Buenos Aires at various bookstores and other locales on the west coast and the Eastern Seaboard, so this will be the place to ask your questions and, perhaps, win a free ticket to Buenos Aires or Santiago. The first event is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, October 2, at Get Lost Books in San Francisco. This will be followed by events at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, on Sunday, October 5; Travel Bug in Vancouver BC on Monday, October 6; and Wide World Books in Seattle on Tuesday, October 7. For complete details of all events, as well as the air ticket raffle, see my Southern Cone Travel blog.
Daniel Craig, who many say rivals Sean Connery as the best Bond ever, shot the latest Bond feature Quantum of Solace in the Atacama Desert of Chile, according to a recent article by Deanna Palic in the magazine International Travel News. The film opens in the U.K. October 31st and in the U.S. November 14th. Chile is fast becoming a hotspot for filmmakers with Quantum of Solace being just one of many films in production. Continue reading »