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Sunday, February 28, 2010

CHILE UPDATE FROM LISA

Friends,

We are still in Coyhaique (in Patagonia, Chile) and doing fine. This is the only town of any size at all in this part of the country, and so most Patagonia expeditions leave from here or from nearby Balmaceda. Because expeditions typically run Saturday to Saturday (as ours did), there are at least 20 Americans stuck here, just as we are.

On Sunday, almost nothing is open here. We did find one restaurant and one pharmacy open. However, all credit card machines seem not to be working. ATMs are empty. Therefore, we are conserving the pesos and dollars that we have in cash until banks reopen on Monday morning. The LAN airline office will also reopen tomorrow morning, so we will go there a couple of hours before to get in line.

We are now hearing rumors that the Santiago airport will not reopen until Wednesday (or Tuesday, or Saturday, or not at all . . . ). Unfortunately, unless we go to Argentina, we can only get out through Santiago. The problem with going to Argentina is (1) we don't hold tickets out of Argentina and so will not be prioritized to board and (2) we are getting advice from everyone (including a travel agent who opened for an hour in this town today to try to help stranded travelers) that it will take just as long to go that way and will cost us much more and (3) a lot of people are apparently panicking and trying to get to Argentina, which may mean that we will have additional delays.

Because it is Sunday, this is a Catholic country, and we are in a very small town, we are unable to talk to airline reps until tomorrow morning. Steve's family has been trying and trying to call LAN in the US but cannot get through. At any rate, it is unclear that the airline can tell us anything yet even if callers do get through. The passenger terminal in Santiago seems to have been seriously damaged from what we are hearing.

Be assured that we are treating this as one of life’s grand adventures (what else can we do???). We hope to be home with lots of great photos for you all very soon.

Steve and Lisa

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