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The best laid plans —

Whenever you are traveling in South America, the combination of infrastructure, weather, and politics always makes planning an exercise in positive thinking. What could go wrong?

The better question is what will go wrong.

Our first few days in Santiago were perfect, despite the warnings about the political situation there, where the most recent government was overthrown, and a new constitution had been drafted–only to be rejected by a popular vote. We found the city relatively quiet, and full of great food and wine.

A quick stop in Buenos Aires allowed us to enjoy a huge traditional asado (think the barbecue to end all barbecues) with one of my Argentine students and his family’s wines, and then we shipped out to Uruguay. Montevideo was calm, but the fifty mile an hour winds in Punta del Este meant that we stayed on board rather than face the rollicking tender ride to town.

And from there, we headed to the Falkland Islands (las Malvinas if you are South American) only to have the captain abort the mission due to even stronger winds and higher seas there. We would go directly to Ushuaia, an Argentine city near the end of the continent.

With an extra day there, we loved the hiking (more on that in a future post) and saw more sea life and fantastic scenery than we could imagine. And at Punta Arenas, just across the border into Chile, we had a fabulous lunch of the best smoked salmon we’d ever tasted.

But then Mother Nature let us know she was in charge. A stop in Chacabuco was canceled, again because of nasty weather, and even the excursions in Laguna San Rafael had mixed success because of heavy rain and fog. We docked in Coquimbo and enjoyed a hike out to some petroglyphs, and then spent a wonderful day in the Maipo Valley of Chile, tasting wines at Undurraga and Odfjell wineries.

Things were looking up, and as we sailed north, the weather was sure to improve.

It did. But the political situation in Peru did not, and it was determined that the stop in Pisco wasn’t a good idea. We spent another day at sea, and then landed in Callao/Lima a day early.

With no shore excursions organized by the cruise line, we hopped off the ship and took a taxi to a museum and an archeological site in the city, and had a wonderful time. No problems at all.

We flew to Cusco, which had just reopened after some major protests closed the airport and Machu Picchu, but we found nothing but welcoming people and wonderful things to see and eat. It was quiet--not e4ven a lot of tourists there.

Admittedly, on our way out, the airport was closed to vehicles (including taxis) and covered with military presence, but we got in, got through security, and flew out and home.

As I said at the beginning, what could go wrong?

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