On November 1, I flew out from Brisbane bound for Santiago in Chile.

I’d finished up at work on September 30 and spent the month of October relishing my new status as an unemployed bum. Actually, some parts I enjoyed more than others. There were the necessary but tedious things like sorting my belongings into stuff to be kept and stuff to be sold/given away/tossed, cleaning and moving out of my apartment, and severing all those connections of convenience such as electricity, private health insurance, internet, streaming services, etc. Finding a tenant for my apartment to keep the mortgage hounds at bay was pleasantly simple (thanks, rental crisis!), while final travel prep of visas and packing went fairly smoothly.

The fun bits were catching up with family and friends before departure. My mate Greg has very generously agreed to flog look after my ageing BMW R 100 RT while I’m away, so I rode it down to his place in southern NSW and spent a beaut few days chilling with him, his family and another mate Scott, who’d come along on our month-long ride through Queensland and northern NSW in July.

I flew home to Queensland before returning to NSW a few days later to catch up with my mum and my sisters and their offspring, plus deposit a bunch of stuff in my sister’s storage unit (thanks Vik!). Then it was back to Queensland once more, for a camping weekend with my sons Ben and Daniel, and a few final days with my partner Carmel.

As funds were more precious than time, I’d booked the cheapest flight to Chile I could find: 35 hours of cattle class bliss via San Francisco and Houston. It was predictably gruelling. Still, all the flights were on time and my baggage made it to Santiago on the same plane I was on, so it could have been worse.

Just before take-off from BNE.

With little sleep and a body clock that had stopped somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, I wasn’t at my best but the sight of snow-topped Andes peaks emerging from a sea of cloud as we descended into Santiago proved to be just the tonic. On arrival, I felt almost human.

The airport bus deposited me about 2km from the AirBnB apartment I’d booked in Lastarria in central Santiago. So in the morning rush I schlepped it up the main drag: Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, or Alameda as the Chilenos and Chilenas call it because, let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for the official name.

Although the crowded, uneven footpaths were a motocross challenge for my wheeled suitcase, the walk itself was entertaining. First stop was a mobile phone store, where a friendly dude set me up with a local SIM card in about five minutes. We chatted with the help of Google Translate, then he asked if I would do a quick video for his business’ social media channels – he must not get many foreigners through the doors. Next thing he’s recording me saying something like ‘come on down to so-and-so’s phone store, for the best service around’, in English. I could hardly keep from laughing all the way through, but he was stoked so all’s well, I suppose.

I was starving by this stage, so Mobile Phone Amigo guided me to a nice little cafe up the street where I had scrambled eggs, bread and three coffees. Feeling even more refreshed, I continued my trek along Alameda.

A bit further along, an elderly gent stopped me in the street and pointed to my watch, asking the time. My dishevelled appearance, suitcase and poor Spanish must have given me away, because he quickly switched to excellent English and enquired where I was from and what I was doing in Chile.

He was a lovely, friendly bloke and amazed when I told him about my motorcycle trip. We stood there on the footpath for a good 10 minutes, yakking about travel and the state of the world like old mates as commuters swirled around us. The we shook hands and he wished me well for my journey.

Eventually, I made it to Lastarria and my apartment. Well, almost. I found the building after some searching and located the apartment, but couldn’t get in. The AirBnB host provided the wrong door code and I loitered in the hallway for a while until an apologetic message came through with the right code. At least I had mobile service…

The rest of day one was spent fighting the urge to sleep. In search of supplies for the fridge, I briefly explored Lastarria. It’s a small neighbourhood but very hip, with an arty street market and many restaurants and cafes. Fridge suitably stocked, I whiled away the afternoon on one thing or another before finally succumbing to the pillow about 8pm. It was seven the next morning when I awoke.


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6 responses to “Touchdown”

  1. Ann Avatar

    Great post Pete. It’s good to be keeping up with where you are and what you are doing.

  2. Gregory Nield Avatar
    Gregory Nield

    Awesome start to your blog amigo. Loved it. 👍

  3. Scott Avatar

    Hey Pete,

    Awesome post! I hope you have more coverage with your new sim than I had with Optus!


    Scott (OC)

    1. Pete Callaghan Avatar

      Cheers Scott. All good with the phone coverage in Chile, mate. Entel is who I’m with and it seems to work everywhere – just like Telstra in Oz (hehe!)