I took a plane from Manchester, England towards the end of 2013, heading for Santiago, the capital of Chile. The destination was somewhat of a whim on my part, as I had never been to Chile before and had very limited knowledge of the place. I had done a little bit of research though and felt I had an idea what I would be letting myself in for. I was also armed with some basic Spanish, which I had picked up that same year while living in Spain.
The plan was to base myself in Santiago for a while, keep working on my Spanish and maybe pick up some work teaching English. I’d already been in contact with a few contacts in Santiago offering work for English teachers. I was totally green as a teacher, but had managed to get a short TEFL course done just in case something worthwhile came up. I figured I could get a bit of a base set up in Santiago, work, make friends, work on my Spanish and then later on I could head off and take a look at some of the other countries.
I had a shopped around while looking for the flight, so this meant taking the long way around. Well worth it in my view as I managed to save about £500 compared to most of the other flights on offer. The route was comprised of three chunks, Manchester-New York, New York- Miami and Miami-Santiago. The first section took around 9 hours I believe, and absolutely flew by, if you’ll pardon the bad pun! We set off around nine in the morning, landing late that afternoon UK time and around lunch time US time, having lost around 5 hours along the way. I was pretty excited and a little nervous about the adventure ahead of me but was lucky enough to be able to chatter most of the way there with some fellow Brits I was sitting with.
After a few uneventful hours between flights in JFK airport, New York, I took a short internal flight of around three hours to Miami and after a very short wait was on board my flight to Santiago. The flight left around midnight ES time and was scheduled arrive at around 8am in the morning in Chile. This worked out pretty well as I was already pretty shattered, bearing in mind that my body clock was still on UK time, which would have been around 5am at that point. So after enjoying the impressive views of neon-lit skyscrapers and the vast sprawling metropolis of Miami as we took off, I quickly fell into a slumber. The plane was a little cold, but almost empty and with very large luxurious seats. I woke briefly somewhere over the Carribean, then dropped off again.
The next time I awoke the sun had already risen and I must have been somewhere over the Andes, judging by the spectacular scenery out of the window. There were immense snowcapped peaks stretching as far as the eye could see, many partially covered by cloud. It soon became apparent that we were following the line of the mountains, heading south. I could see the narrow strip of land between the Andes and the sea that comprises Chile. From what I could see it appeared to be one big desert, with a multitude of open cast mines of some sort.
I arrived in Santiago and felt pretty fresh, considering my 24 hour journey, but a strong black coffee was definitely in order. So after picking up my gear and passing through immigrations, I settled into the airport café to plan my next moves. I figured I would head for the centre and get myself settled into a decent hostel and start getting a feel for the place.