On this trip we will do some REAL exploration. We will face the unknown. We will LAUGH in the face of danger! We will boldly go where no flight-reporter has gone before!! (Yes. I have been watching the DVDs I bought on my last trip) XDDD
In other words… we will venture beyond the fenced perimeter of the airport!!
As I reported in that occasion, I am shocked by the evil design of the airport access, which turns it into one of the least accessible airports I have ever visited, in spite of being located just meters from a main highway with lots of public transport. This is the map I posted then:
As you can probably see, the access to the airport is several kilometers to the north of the terminal building, which makes it extremely difficult to reach on foot from the highway.
However, there's a gravel road that I notice from the bus when travelling along this highway to and from Temuco.
So the question arises in my brain:
What - if…?
And here I am, ready to examine the airport's surroundings today, and get things ready to find the answer to my question on the trip back: Is it possible to reach the airport on foot from the highway using this gravel road?
Imagine what this would mean!! Humankind (at least the local humankind) would be relieved from the burden of paying the most expensive trasfer service in Chile!
Besides, this trip will bring some nice "side effects" for me: A new airline, JetSmart, has started flying in Chile, and I will have the chance to fly with them on the way back from Santiago… for my birthday!! :3
The long way to ZCO
I start my day early on this Saturday morning. It's a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride from my hometown to Temuco. Then I must take the aforementioned expensive transfer to the airport.
The van will pick me up at a hotel near the city's Plaza de Armas.
But when I ask some people in shops around the Plaza de Armas where this bus stops, they just don't know what I'm talking about! So I call the number on the website. The man on the other side says that such service does not exist! The only way to get to ZCO is in your own car, in a taxi, Uber, or transfer. So I ask to be picked up by the transfer. It will be 5000 CLP (8 USD) for a 20km ride. In my hometown you pay 3500 CLP (5 USD) for a 30km ride!
Leaving the Panamerican Highway it's only some meters to the right from the intersection.
Then the road turns south and runs parallel to the highway…
…for more than 4km up to the terminal…
…turning ZCO into the least accessible airport in Chile…
…in spite of being just meters from a main highway!
Planning my strategy
See that red car on the left? That's where I'll come in a minute, looking for a way to reach the gravel road that should take me straight to the highway.
You pay the transfer service inside the main hall at ZCO, so…
…as soon as the transfer drops me at the door of the terminal building I go inside, pay, and walk out….
…towards the limits of the airport premises.
Only bandurrias roam around here, where nobody bothers them (except for some deranged flight-reporter)
They are sort of romantic. If you see one bandurria, you can be certain that its partner is somewhere near.
Beyond the parking lot, the airport access, and the bandurrias…
…there’s an irrigation canal.
And beyond the irrigation canal I can see what seems to be what I’m looking for.
YES! A gate! And this wooden gate leads to…
…a larger, metal, automatic gate that marks the beginning of the gravel road! The highway is at the other end! It’s so exciting! I will try and reach the highway from here when I come back from Santiago, two days later.
There’s only one thing that I am forgetting at the moment: that a large, metal, automatic gate can only mean one thing. But we’ll see more about that in my next report.
Whatever. I keep planning my mission. What will happen…
…if this wooden gate is closed when I come back?
This shouldn’t be a problem, since this seems to be its only lock.
And, just in case, I think I can pass through this opening. Such a daredevil! XDD
Rubbing my hands in excitement I head back to the terminal. ZCO is a handsome building.
La Araucanía Airport is written in Spanish and Mapudungun on its front.
At the check-in counters the new competitor, JetSmart, already has a place.
By the moment I’m writing this report, JetSmart has reached over 7% of the Chilean market share…
…while LATAM’s figures plummet. They’re still dominant, though.
On the other end of the hall are those counters…
…for car rentals and the monopolistic transfer service.
3) Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval. And 4) As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.
Others say that computers should be male, because 1) In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on. 2) They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves…
3) They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem. And 4) As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.
So, why should a plane be a she? The thing is, this one is waiting for me and now I have to board… him. :D
Oh. A LATAM flight has arrived…
…and the doors to baggage claim have been opened, meaning that a crowd will soon flock down the escalators. I'd better go back upstairs. Besides, it will soon be time for…
Chilled out Chileans have grown accustomed to boarding in a quiet and orderly fashion.
We expect to see those section markers, and we just gather at the gate in silence.
We are so used to that, that we get startled and confused when things are done differently…
…as you will see in my future reports.
But today the whole process is extremely peaceful.
Look! We have two male FAs today. They are very polite. A lady is carrying a baby, and one of the male FAs gives her some special instructions.
Two minutes later the other male FA comes and repeats the instructions thoroughly. We all laugh. The one in the white shirt continually fiddles with a pen. I guess he's either nervous or self-conscious!
Let's inspect my Y class environment. "Only" some cup ring marks on the tray table. But I always keep this article in mind. I wonder how many CFUs are thriving there!
Javiera and Ángel Parra are the children of the late Violeta Parra, one of the most remarkable Chilean artists of the 20th century. She was especially famous for her music.
Unfortunately, as is the case with a lot of Chilean folk music, Violeta's has been linked to politics, which I think is unfair because, even though she was a political activist, she sang mostly about love, the suffering of the poor, local traditions, and other things.
One of my favorites (and the most famous, perhaps) is Gracias a la vida (I thank life). It goes, in part: "I thank life for giving me so much. It gave me two bright stars. When I open them I can clearly see the difference between what’s black and what’s white, and the starry expanse of the high skies, and in the midst of the crowds the man I love." I can’t listen to this song without shedding a tear!
Violeta suffered a lot. She came from a poor family. In the end she killed herself, presumably for love. I'm sure you will love her music if you search for it on YouTube. Her daughter Javiera has "modernized" some of her mother’s songs. Here's a link to Violeta's El Albertío, and to Javiera's version. Enjoy!
Some images of Puerto Natales, in the far south of Chile…
…which I will be visiting next February! There will be a report about that, and hopefully, a nice tourism bonus. :)
I’m lucky today! I can stretch at will!
As soon as the baggage loader…
…we are pushed back. It’s a short taxi, of course…
…and in a couple of minutes…
…we are at the tip…
…of the runway…
We climb above the Panamerican Highway, and the road to the airport (lower right corner)…
…and the intersection 4km north of the terminal.
This reminds me of my evil plan. On my trip back I will play detective (one of the most stupid things I have ever done) and determine once and for all if you can skip the long road to ZCO from this intersection by walking straight from the highway to the terminal. Don't miss the next report. You will either laugh with me… or at me!
River Vilcún flows some 10km south of Temuco…
The southern suburbs of the city, on river Cautín, are the last thing I can see…
…before the clouds block the viewall the way to Santiago…
…where we arrive after…
…a most placid flight.
Some details of the flight for my personal record.
Thanks for waiting!
I wonder what's new around here.
Oh! I think I can see something over there.
Aerodesierto. A charter airline. As you can see, the latest trend is letting the CEO's children design the livery. I think that LATAM set the example, and AirFrance before them.
We come to a stop here, but I haven't got the slightest intention to disembark quickly.
I can do some spotting in the meantime. Talking about sad liveries, Sky Airline comes there…
…though I like those colors.
And there goes the Avianca aircraft that gave us way some moments ago.
Good. Whether I like it or not, it's time to walk out to the cold, frantic city.
I'm not alone in my reluctance, it seems.
A welcoming SCL, as usual. I wonder what they are changing now.
There you go. A new VIP lounge.
Thanks for reading. I'll sleep a lot and get ready for my investigation, now. If you thought avgeeks were weird, wait to read my next report! XDDD
Temuco - ZCO
Santiago - SCL
A flight as uneventful and efficient as you can expect. That means that things are in working order, doesn't it?
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