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.