A very big day today.
We were up at 5:30am, I booked a taxi for 7am and we had a quick shower and breakfast.
We woke Andres up at 6:30am – decided not to try and feed him breakfast before we go, instead we packed some snaplock bags with weetbix and cornflakes, plus some long life milk in little tetra packs that Andres likes to drink. We’d feed him at the airport.
The taxi arrived at 6:50am, a nice big maxi cab with car seat for Andres – easily fit all our bags. We had a smooth run to airport.
There was a slight delay with checkin when it turned out that Qantas was expecting Nicol to be traveling with us. Strange, since that’s not what our e-ticket said. Possibly poor communication between LAN and Qantas – we were flying on a LAN ticket on a Qantas flight.
It also turns out that they had us seated in seats near a bassinet (for Nicol), which we didn’t need – but there’s actually only two seats there, so they had one of us seated across the aisle. The flight was full, so they weren’t able to find us better seats, but they did call the staff at the gate because there were parents with infants who had requested a bassinet who were seated elsewhere. We were more than happy to give up our seats for them!
Our bags were all within limits – 21+21+22+18 = 82kg … I was aiming for 80kg between the 4 bags, so not bad. We will need to be careful on return journey to get weight distribution right, although there are some things we’ve packed that will be used while away (nappies – pullups, swimmers, etc), so we’ll have more room for the things we’ll buy.
After checking the bags, we headed to food court to feed Andres some breakfast. Andres had been excellent up until this point, wheeling his new roll-on bag along side his Papa like a pro-traveler. I think tiredness and hunger finally caught up with him and he had a bit of a breakdown over not wanting to walk anymore. We were literally only 50m from the foodcourt, so I was trying to convince him to walk – it was really quite difficult to carry him along with his bag and all of our carry-on gear as well.
To make things worse, my expensive PacSafe backpack broke one of the arm straps, making it impossible to carry it on your back – at least not without holding on to the other strap with one hand. The bag had already been replaced under warranty once, then exactly the same fault happened with new bag outside the warranty period. It was a metal clip which had broken originally and I was able to “fix” it by simply using a small PacSafe travel combination lock to join the two bits together. This worked well for nearly a year, but then today one of the metal parts failed completely – it shattered as I tried to put the backpack on, leaving nothing for the lock to connect to. The bag wasn’t even that heavy! I think it was poor material choice – this metal has obvious flaws.
Anyway, we finally managed to get to the foodcourt but Andres didn’t want any of his breakfast we brought him. We knew he was hungry, but he was already in a mood and wasn’t about to be convinced to eat anything. I finally suggested we buy something – we got a fresh squeezed fruit juice for us all to share, some chicken nuggets for Leanne and Andres to share and a muffin for me and Andres to share. He perked up at that suggestion and proceeded to bombard me with questions about everyone and everything at the food court for the 10 minutes or so that it took for Leanne to get the food. He was pretty good after that and we were able to get through immigration without problems and look for our gate.
They were just about to start boarding when we got to the gate, so we didn’t have much time to relax – I went to check on our seating arrangements with the staff while Leanne went to buy a magazine and some water. Turns out they found us three seats together, so we were happy with that. Not a window/middle/aisle like I had hoped for, but at least we are all seated together. We were able to jump the queue and board with the other families (we take every advantage we can get when traveling with kids!) and got settled in our seats straight away.
I’m loving the new Qantas in-flight entertainment system (well, it’s new since we last traveled internationally), which was functional from the moment we got on the plane, before boarding was even finished – none of this waiting for an hour after take off for them to turn it on! So Andres was content straight away – listening to music first – each time we tried to talk to him he growled at us “shhh – I’m listening to music!”.
The flight progressed well, we found some Diego and Dora on the TV, which he enjoyed watching. We then tried him with the movie Cars 2, but he got bored with that after about half an hour and wanted to watch more Dora. We managed to get him to sleep for a couple of hours, after which he woke surprisingly bright and chirpy. I guess it was more like an afternoon nap for him than an overnight sleep. After, he just wanted to watch more Dora – so we swapped between the two episodes, I guess he watched them about 20 times each. We were able to watch some movies ourselves and snooze for a while too.
We managed to convince Andres to wear some pull-ups on the plane so that if he fell asleep (or we couldn’t get to a toilet in time), we didn’t have to worry about wet pants. This worked pretty well, but he was very good at letting us know when he needed to go to the toilet – I became quite an expert at fitting the two of us into one of the tiny airplane toilets and getting our business done. The 13 hour flight went very smoothly overall – we were very proud of Andres. It is so much better having the direct flight to Santiago – flying via Auckland can add more than 4 hours to the flight!
We arrived in Santiago, paid our reciprocity fee (US$95 each for the 3 of us!), got through immigration, retrieved our bags, passed through customs, walked across the road and into our hotel. The Holiday Inn Santiago Airport is relatively expensive, but the sheer convenience of it is fantastic – especially when just transiting through Santiago.
Unfortunately, it was still only mid-morning when we got in, so they didn’t have a room available for us yet. However, they promised to try and get us one as soon as they had something cleaned around noon. We relaxed in the comfortable lobby lounge for about an hour and were then taken to our room. A refreshing shower made me feel human again and we headed down to the restaurant for some lunch. Although I felt hungry, we really didn’t do lunch justice – pity, because the empanadas were delicious and the hamburgers were pretty good too.
We had promised we would take Andres to the swimming pool at the hotel and in his tired state, he got fixated on that over lunch – we almost had to drag him back to the room. We managed to man-handle him into a bed, where I hugged him close until he went to sleep – quite quickly. We all slept for a couple of hours and then dragged ourselves out of bed and down to the swimming pool. It was an indoor heated pool, not very wide, but long enough to swim laps, which Leanne proceeded to do (she swims regularly back at home at the Willoughby Leisure Centre pool). I did walking laps of the pool with Andres while he practiced his swimming. We ended up staying there for about an hour – it was great to get some exercise after such a long flight.
By the time we got back to the room, showered and ready to go out to find some dinner, it was already after 8pm. We found a playground at one end of the airport, so Leanne watched Andres play there and make some friends while I went to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at Gatsby’s (a local restaurant chain) where I ordered the worst burger I’ve ever tasted (meat was so dry and over-cooked it was crunchy). Leanne’s Chicken tortilla (more like a quesadilla) was nice, but the leg-ham and motzarella cheese tortilla that Andres had was delicious (and large enough to feed all three of us is hindsight!).
It was nearly 10pm by the time we got back to our room – I stayed up doing some work for a little while but ended up going to bed earlier than I had expected. A very long day!
In recent days, I have been playing with the time-lapse photography potential of the GoPro HD Hero2 video cameras I bought for Andres and myself last Christmas. One of the attachments I bought was a suction-cup mount which I have previously used to mount the camera to the side of our car (it’s been used on planes travelling at over 200kph – it’s a very strong grip!). I tried sticking the camera to the window of our hotel room and setting it to take photos at 30 second intervals. I then used some special software for Lightroom, plus my video editing software (PowerDirector), to turn those images into a video.
Here is the result: just over 2 hours of photos compressed into 42 seconds of video …
… I managed to capture sunset, but I was hoping to also get all of the lights coming on in the surrounding area too. Unfortunately the battery went flat while we were out of the room – something I’ll have to work on (ie make sure battery is fully charged before starting, keep a spare charged battery nearby, etc). The video is also available in full-HD if you have a high-res computer screen.