Tag Archives: Andes

Flying across the Andes

Flying over the western region of Argentina, there seems to be nothing below. The terrain at first glance is a rust brown but is actually colorful due to the variations in color from rust to sienna to ochre brown. I did not see any roads, but I did see what looked like a small town. Buenos Aires to the foothills of the Andes was cloud-covered, so I saw nothing.

Once we passed into Chilean territory, I noticed an occasional absolutely straight line running across the flats and hills. Then more lines, then what I at first took to be iced-over lakes which did not make sense since there was no sign of snow. One of these lakes had what looked like a salt works—a series of blue rectangles like what you’d see in coastal France or the Baja. My guess is that they are in fact evaporation flats for the salts and minerals that wash down from the surrounding hills. We passed over at least a dozen of these flats.

More straight lines, including one set going east and west crossed by another set going north and south. Perfectly straight, evenly spaced, and they continued that way as they moved off the salt flats and up into the foothills. Weird. There was also a slightly snaking, wider black line running to the ocean that I took to be a railroad, carrying out the minerals. All this seemed centered around the Chilean city, Calama, which is a huge mining area that at one time had the world’s largest open-pit copper mine.

As we descended to the Pacific, more green appeared along with more roads, towns and civilization.

No pics. I was on an Airbus this time, and the windows are way too small and badly placed for making pics. Hey! There’s always Google Maps. Check it out.

Given the choice, I’d fly Airbus any day over a Boeing plane. Quieter, smoother, fast-braking, smooth landing, just feels better. But on the leg from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, we boarded a brand new, just-out-of-the-box Boeing 737. Not a mark or blemish anywhere, with a new vinyl smell. I asked one of the cabin crew if we were the first passengers and she said, “well, sort of,” whatever that meant.


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