South America 2005

from Buenos Aires to Quito via Ushuaia

BeginningsGood AirsA forgotten countryDodgy dealsBrazil, brieflyAcross the Río de la PlataInto PatagoniaLand of FireThe southernmostTorres del PaineGlaciar GrayMiddle of the WLeaving Las TorresMoreno GlacierEl ChalténLaguna TorreRuta 40Carretera AustralPumalínSailing up the coastClose to the heatSantiagoValparaísoInto the AtacamaDesert heatGeysersHigher and higherBreathless heightsAltiplano crossingDays of saltTrain cemeteryBolivian steam trainIn the minesThe two capitalsChristmas by the lakeThe most dangerous road in the worldIsland of the SunMachu PicchuEl MistiSuch great heightsBack down to sea levelRuins of the northJourney to EcuadorTrapped in LojaOne last volcanoQuitoEnds



Tuesday, October 18th 2005


It was a cool, foggy morning on 18 October 2005 as I left Ealing for the airport. I'd been packing until 4am, and then left the house at 4.30am, so I had a hard time at Heathrow stopping myself from falling asleep and missing my flight. I managed it though, and flew west. I was flying to Buenos Aires via New York, and I arrived at JFK airport in the early afternoon, a little bit refreshed after sleeping all the way across the Atlantic.

I found my way to Howard Beach subway station and took the long ride to Manhattan. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day as I emerged at 34th St and Penn station to find the Empire State Building right ahead, and I decided to go up. The queues were not bad, but made worse by the harassment from over-enthusiastic audio-guide sellers, falsely claiming that there were no information panels at the top to try and flog their gear.

I brushed them aside, looked deliberately angry on the cheesy photo they insisted on taking of every group going up to superimpose onto a fake view and sell at an exorbitant price, and got into the lift. A short climb up some stairs at the top, and there I was, high above New York in the afternoon sunshine. London seemed a long time ago, and South America still a long way away.

I enjoyed the views, and the assault of noise coming up from the streets far below. I was tempted to stay up there for sunset, but my onward flight was at 10pm and I thought that missing it would not be good, so I came down at about 6pm, had a quick wander past some of the famous streets of Manhattan, grabbed a huge portion of cheap greasy pizza, and headed back to the airport for my flight to Argentina.

Good Airs→

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