Up well before sensible people should be rolling over on their pillow, we were out the door, into the cab and on the way to the airport. Our time in Rio ended as abruptly as it began.
We were all disappointed to leave Rio and had contemplated staying on for a few extra days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, due to some booking problems from earlier in our trip. It’s my fault, I’ll admit.
Way back in Costa Rica, I spent a morning searching out flights to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). This was a location high on my list for this trip. As it is a bit off the tourist track it can be difficult to get to so finding the the cheapest and most convenient means possible was a bit of a challenge. Through my research, the best way to get to Easter Island would be to fly return from Santiago Chile. Onward flights from Easter Island only go to Tahiti and are outrageously expensive. The plan would be to fly to Santiago from Rio, hit Easter Island return and then head to New Zealand (then Rarotonga return to spend time with Jody’s parents).
I found the exact dates for departure and return to make everything work nicely. I was quite proud of myself as I found the best option on the Espanol version of the Avianca website. My Spanish was coming along nicely and I only needed to translate a couple of sections but the overall gist was familiar to me with all of the bookings I’ve done to date.
We were about to head out to the beach to enjoy our last day of Pura Vida that day. Everyone was so patient as I searched out the various permutations and combinations to get us to this exotic location. While completing the booking I was multitasking - getting the girls ready and sunscreen on while I waited for the Avianca site to do its thing. However, I was distracted and didn’t notice that instead of booking a 5 day excursion, I booked 5 weeks returning to Santiago not on February 25 but March 25. Bugger.
I didn’t realize my error until about 10 days later.
Avianca is great. After some challenges getting someone whose English was better than my Spanish, they tried to get me onto the flight I had originally targeted. Unfortunately, by this time it was completely booked but they did offer me a couple of other return options the following day or later in the week. However, we had already planned and booked flights to Rarotonga.
There was no combination that would make everything work. Amazingly, Avianca provided a complete refund. If you ever get a chance to fly with them, do it. One of the best airlines we’ve ever been on.
This is the problem with our pay-as-you-go method of travel. While you get a great amount of flexibility and cheaper costs by booking one-way travel, you are hamstrung by trying to get all of the moving parts to work together.
Speaking of being hamstrung - the flight from Rio to Santiago was non-refundable. Having booked with a discount booking site to get the best price possible, you take a risk by locking down your dates with non-refundable tickets. Since Rapa Nui is now postponed for a later travel adventure, the need and desire to go to Chile dropped off significantly. But…
The non-refundable, non-transferable, non-changeable tickets forced us to fly to Santiago or otherwise lose out on the cost of the fares. All wasn’t lost though, the flights to New Zealand would be slightly cheaper flying from there than directly from Rio. So we found ourselves up at 2:30am packed and ready to go to the airport - not exactly what most people in Rio find themselves doing at that hour.
A quick flight to Sao Paolo and onward to Santiago, we picked up a rental car and drove 90 minutes out to the Pacific coast to explore Valpariso for a few days. The scenery was great and we were surrounded by vineyards almost the entire drive out. It reminded us very much of the Okanagan and BC’s interior wine country. We booked a property through Expedia and the arrangement was similar to VRBO, AirBnB or HomeAway. Someone just listed their condo through Expedia - or so we thought. When we arrived at the property there was no such listing. The doorman was helpful trying to call a few people who might be have information on the specific flat. No dice.
Fortunately, a few kind people happened to be in the lobby while we were there and overheard our plight - no room at the inn! Angel introduced himself and his friend who happened to be the property manager for a couple of other units in the building. She did have one that we could use for the next few days - but at a higher rate than quoted by Expedia (they got an earful from me later in the day). We checked it out and decided to take it - what other choice did we have?!
After a glorious week in Rio, the weather on the Pacific coast was much cooler and drier. Megs wasn’t feeling 100% and I was a bit off too - a bit run down with too many late nights and getting up early for flights. While our Spanish had come along by leaps and bounds during our travels, we found that our efforts to communicate weren’t met with the same enthusiasm as we experienced elsewhere. People here had very little time for non-Spanish speakers - at least that’s how we felt.
We managed to explore a bit of Vina Del Mar and Valpariso, got a couple of swims in the pool but mostly took advantage of our lovely flat overlooking the ocean (and the good wifi that came with it) to rest, recharge, catch-up on our blog and further plan our trip. Oh yeah, and drink good, cheap Chilean red wine. All in all, not exactly how we wanted to spend our last few days but nothing to complain about either. It just made us look that much more forward to the next continent on our trip.
Adios - South America.
Oceania - here we come!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).