Once we decide to head home the rest is easy. Drive for four hours from the Lake District to Temuco. Fly to Santiago, Then to Toronto to Austin, and finally drive to Canyon Lake. Jo abbreviates this as drive-fly-fly-fly-drive. The only long stretch is the ten hour Santiago-Toronto flight.
We wake up to a beautiful dawn with volcan Osorno standing clear and almost cloudless. Nice day to hike around here. But we say good bye to Mocha and try unsuccessfully to avoid Bianca’s goodbye hug and drive into our first obstacle – getting out of Puerto Varas and on to Ruta 5, the tollway that will take us all the way to Temuco. It’s Saturday morning and the only road out of town is temporarily closed off for an event. The officer from the Carabineros del Chile, the national police, walks over to tell us something. I roll my window down and greet her in English. Then I roll down Evan’s window and point in his direction, with my usual “por favor no habla espanol”. The officer is taken aback for a second but then chats with Evan. We find out that it’s a bike event and it’s going to take some time and to be patient! She tells Evan that the bike ride starts at 08:30. That is only 15 minutes away.
It takes a little longer than that. The tollway speed limit varies between 100 and 120 km/h, so I work my way along close to 130 km/h, and after a coffee stop we get to Temuco airport in good time. Someone in a red Avis shirt meets us curbside at departures and helps us unload and then drives away in the rental. Jo wonders aloud that his investment in an Avis shirt has paid off well as we hurry inside (but my Avis app pings me with a checkin notification a moment later, so all is good). We’ll be inside airports or airplanes for the next 30 hours now.
The view from the Temuco-Santiago flight is stunning. Dozens of snow capped volcanoes ring the horizon towards the east and a fabulous coastline is below us on the west. You can see the entire width of Chile – from Argentina to the Pacific, the whole way.
The Santiago-Toronto flight is a sardine can. About 400 of us packed ass to ass into a 777. We are obviously hoping we haven’t picked up the coronavirus up until now. But this flight couldn’t have been designed any better to be a virus incubator. Everyone else seems to have just finished cruises which makes us cringe even more. I feel bad for the cabin crew.
My morning coffee from the gas station on Ruta 5 is still working through the overnight flight but Vivian sleeps a bit. Three movies (I like Motherless Brooklyn best) and two wine servings later we are in Toronto. Vivian and Evan are pretty chipper. They are seasoned travelers by now. We get a nice sit down breakfast and then clear American customs and immigration in Toronto airport with zero lines which is good because it’s the first day of the freshly constituted health inspections in the US and the news is full of stories of 4 hour waits in crowded lines at every major American airport. Our Toronto-Austin flight is empty and the airline has spread the few of us out through the airplane, we assume for the sake of social distancing.
We take a cab to Jen’s, greet her from a distance, pick up the Land Rover, get some groceries at the Fiesta (thanks to a great tip from Jen) and drive to Canyon Lake. We have rice, dal, and keema for dinner. Vivian tucks in and says she’s missed home cooking. We’re home!