Over 30 years have passed since that odd and fateful trip deep into the Peruvian jungle. Olivia’s light has long since faded. She has suffered, she has grown wiser, and so has Peru, that blighted nation of stoic peasants ruled over by a motley collection of megalomaniacs and psychopaths.
Somewhere along the way, through no fault of my own, I have managed to acquire a wife and kids. Somehow my eldest daughter has contracted ‘the travel bug’ and taken off, at the tender age of 16, to spend a year on Rotary exchange in Balniario Camborio in Southern Brazil. Missing her dearly, I decide the time is ripe to show my family one of the great wonders of the world; Machu Pichu. The idea seemed simple enough on paper: Pop over to Balniario, grab Kali, and nip up to Peru for a quick squiz at the awesome ruin. Easier said than done. What ensued was an arduous journey involving much suffering and wisdom, crossing the entire continent of South America from the Atlantic to The Pacific, wading through the crocodile infested swamps of The Pantanal, dodging the poisoned arrows of the Yanamami Indians of The Amazon, surviving the constant revolution that is Bolivia to finally end up trudging the Inca Highways of The Andes, that have not seen a maintenance crew since Atahalpa was beheaded some 500 years ago.
Chapter 1: Chile
Our journey begins in an aeroplane crossing the biggest thing in the world; The Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival in Santiago the smog is so mild we can glimpse the snow capped peaks of The Andes towering above us, a rare moment apparently. Readers may not be aware that Chile is the skinniest country in the world, being about 4.5 thousand kilos long and only a few hundred kilos across at its widest point, half of which is occupied by the inhospitable peaks of the Andes, leaving but a thin sliver for human habitation. Not unlike a long piece of string with knots in it. Chile is just like Australia except the people are smaller and browner. To start with, it’s a bit dull compared to the rest of the continent. They killed most of the interesting people long ago, just like we did. They did have one interesting fellow, Salvador Allende, the first and last democratically elected Communist leader in the entire world, but they got rid of him quick smart. Just like we got rid of Gough Whitlam and at around the same time. Here, the C.I.A. just got a fella in a top hat to tap Gough on the shoulder and tell him to piss off. In Chile your socialists were a bit more recalcitrant and they had to resort to bombing the Presidential Palace with F111 jet fighters while Allende stood on the balcony saluting the Chilean flag and singing The Internationale. Now they have another interesting person in The Palace; Michelle Bachelet, the first woman president in South America. She is trying to be as dull as dishwater so maybe she will survive.
Next Chapter: Brazil