Archive for the ‘Flying’ Category

Maybe This Time, We’ll Be Lucky…

March 5th, 2010 at 7:05 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Latest word is that our plane is in the air, and will be in Ushuaia in the wee hours. Current plan is for us to fly out of Ushuaia at 1:30pm tomorrow (Saturday), and arrive in Miami at 3:30am on Sunday.

Hopefully this will be our last post (except for a GPS track perhaps) until we’ve landed in Miami, found a bed or two to sleep in, and gotten some rest.

 

No Magellanic Woodpeckers, And Also No Plane

March 5th, 2010 at 2:40 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We just returned from Lago Escondido on the other side of the Andes mountain range here in Tierra del Fuego. Beautiful scenery along the way, and a spectacular roasted lamb for lunch, but no Magellanic woodpeckers to be found.

Roasted lamb in the Tierra del Fuego style - yum!

Roasted lamb in the Tierra del Fuego style - yum!

Returning back to the ship we found that in addition to there being no woodpeckers in sight, our charter flight to Miami was also in hiding.

Word is that the plane finally cleared all the Argentinian bureaucratic paperwork (there was a missing signature on a form, and that’s been the case for the last day), and should have finally departed Lima, Peru a few minutes ago, bound for Ushuaia.

This means we’ll be enjoying another night in the best hotel in Ushuaia, our ship, the National Geographic Explorer. It’s looking likely that we might actually leave tomorrow, but everything depends on when the charter flight actually lands in Ushuaia tonight (hopefully).

 

Who Said Itinerary Changes Are Supposed To Be Easy?

March 4th, 2010 at 6:46 am (AST) by Jake Richter

So maybe we shouldn’t be laughing and amused at this very moment, but when the announcement came over the public address system that a small complication had developed with respect to our charter flight to Miami, we found it pretty funny.

These Magellanic penguins we saw a couple of days ago are kind of like us right now - milling about without a clear direction to go in

These Magellanic penguins we saw a couple of days ago are kind of like us right now - milling about without a clear direction to go in

Apparently Argentinian officials would not give clearance to our plane to come to Ushuaia from Lima (where the plane is at present). That apparently will be resolved shortly, but some other bureaucratic complications require the plane to overnight in Ushuaia, so we’re not actually leaving here until tomorrow, and thus get another night aboard the National Geographic Explorer, which is great. We also don’t have to fly red-eye, which I truly appreciate.

So for now we get to enjoy a short tour of Ushuaia, some walk-around time, lunch at a local restaurant, and some as yet unconfirmed activity this afternoon.

We would like to give our sympathies to all the Lindblad Expedition folks in New York who managed to rebook most everyone’s connecting flights for tomorrow morning only to have to do it all over again to account for this latest flight change. And let’s not forget all the folks here in Ushuaia who have to put up with 140 or so guests (some of whom will unfortunately be unhappy about this latest change) for another day or so. If any of you feel under appreciated, let us know and we’ll remind you what a great job you do.

 

From South America to North America

March 3rd, 2010 at 10:11 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Easter Island it ain’t, but it does have its share of interesting sights. I speak of Miami, Florida, which is apparently where we will end up on early Friday morning.

Apparently the airports throughout South America are all messed up and clogged up because of the closure of the airport in Santiago, Chile. Lindblad Expeditions decided the most prudent course of action was to charter a Miami Air plane to pick us up in Ushuaia tomorrow and then take us all to Miami (with refueling stops in Lima, Peru, and La Paz, Bolivia). And from Miami we’ll figure out how to make our way home on one of the weekly flights available to us.

In a way it’s a bit of serendipity, as we recently realized we had no birthday presents for Bas’ upcoming 13th birthday in a couple of weeks, and we know Miami shopping options far exceed those on Bonaire or in Ushuaia. And, I need to get my big honking Alienware M17x notebook computer repaired before it completely melts down, and that can only happen when the computer is the in U.S. for a few days.

We’re planning on staying in the Miami area for all of next week, and will get home a couple of days later than expected, but hopefully well rested.

 

On-Going Travel Plans Still Somewhat In Limbo

March 2nd, 2010 at 10:40 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We did get some definitive word this evening at our nightly re-cap aboard the National Geographic Explorer about our on-going travel plans after we arrive in Ushuaia in a couple of days. That word was that our previously planned charter back to Santiago, Chile this coming Thursday has been canceled. And with it, our continuation to Easter Island. We’re a little disappointed, but at the same time quite relieved to not have to brave the chaos of post-earthquake Chile.

The only other key thing we were told is that Lindblad’s corporate office is working on a charter to get us out of Ushuaia after we arrive on Thursday morning, but at present it was not clear where the charter flight would take us. It was also explained that those of us who had been on the Easter Island extension would be getting a letter detailing how refunds, etc., would be processed and dealt with.

After the brief announcement and discussion about the changes in our travel plans, everyone on board was asked what their final return destination airport would be, presumably so that appropriate return flights and connections could be arranged. That didn’t quite address the issue of how to spend the extra week or so we had planned to be away from home, so maybe we’ll just end up at home sooner than expected. Considering the Traveling Richters were having issues today figuring out to spend a week in Argentina, that might be for the best.

So, for now, all we know is what we’re definitely not doing, which is returning to Chile. We don’t know what we are doing instead, though.

But mystery and serendipity are all part of of expedition and exploration travel, so we’ll let ourselves be surprised, and if we don’t like the surprise, we’ll get it changed somehow. For now, we’ll pack our cold weather clothes away, and assume we’ll be at least a moderately temperate climate from Ushuaia onward.

 

Dealing With Flux In Travel Plans – Santiago, Chile or Not?

March 1st, 2010 at 8:19 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

One of the interesting issues facing us at the moment is the uncertainty of our remaining itinerary for the next week or so. The terrible earthquake in Chile was not a predictable event, and with continuing aftershocks, power outages, and general infrastructure issues throughout Chile, it’s still not entirely clear whether we can safely return to Santiago in a few days, and even if we can, whether we can make it to Easter Island and back to Santiago as previously planned.

Adding to the uncertainty, earlier today I received a couple of e-mails from the U.S. Department of State (because I had registered our trip with their automated systems and asked for updates on Chile).

The e-mails stated, among other things:

“The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Chile. The February 27th earthquake caused significant damage to the areas closest to the epicenter, including the cities of Concepcion, Talcahuano and Temuco. Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaiso were also affected by power outages and limited telecommunications. The Santiago International Airport has been closed to all but military operations.

Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks following a strong earthquake such as this one.”

(The full alert from the U.S. Department of State is here)

This is not particularly comforting advice, and for all that we really want to visit and explore Easter Island, the safety and security of our family is more important.

We’ve been told that there will be a firm decision by tomorrow night as to whether it’s deemed safe and workable to have us go to Santiago on Thursday or not and onto Easter Island from there. My gut tells me that alternatives will come into play, especially in light of the U.S. Dept. of State advisory, and I am guessing that we might end up flying from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires instead of Santiago.

In any case, I’m starting to look at options of things to see and do in and around Buenos Aires for a week or so since we’re in no rush to return home ahead of schedule.

While Buenos Aires is not Easter Island, at least it is a place we have wanted to visit, so we may finally, inadvertently, have that opportunity. Better to be prepared for alternate eventualities, I always say (or something close to that anyhow).

If any of you have suggestions and ideas of things to do in Argentina in the vicinity of Buenos Aires, please let us know.

In any case, we know the folks at Lindblad Expeditions will do their utmost to make sure we’re safe and well taken care of, and once they let us know what they think is best, we’ll let all of you know here on our blog.

Update – March 1, 2010, 20:40AST: I just found this article at Aviation Week about LAN, the airline we’re supposed to use to fly back to Santiago as a charter, and then on to Easter Island. Definitely not encouraging regarding our planned itinerary as it appears that travel later this week with LAN Airlines will be a real mess (understandably so).

Update #2 – March 2, 2010, 06:29AST: Looks like the rest of the family would prefer to minimize time spent in a big city, so if we do end up in Buenos Aires, it would only be for a couple of days.