The smoke was so thick it was palpable, a condition made especially intolerable by the awful head cold I brought with me to the southern tip of South America.
“Punta Arenas has two completely different sides: arrivals and departures. The arrivals area is THE place to go if you are looking for an advanced case of lung cancer. The smoke was so thick it was palpable, a condition made especially intolerable by the awful head cold I brought with me to the southern tip of South America. After five flights from Seattle to Punta Arenas, the frequent take-offs and landings had seemingly exploded and imploded my skull, and the smoke was the icing on the cake. Life expectancy here can’t be over 40. Ugh. The other problems were that the temperature was a little below freezing (in the middle of the summer, no less) and having just flown in from Lima, where it was over 90 and humid, I wasn’t exactly dressed appropriately. There were two benches in the entire arrivals area, providing enough seating for four people. And the place was strictly utilitarian. Overall, a bit of a nightmare for spending a lot of time there. (It’s a perfectly acceptable airport for purely flying into though.) On the departures side, all is bliss!! The copious seating is comfortable and movable, arranged in little bays so that you and a few friends can occupy a place all your own. Security didn’t even seem to care when we played games with our avalanche transceivers — little electronic gadgets that beep and flash — even though this was just three months after 9/11 and things were still really weird in most other places. Frankly, I was surprised we weren’t arrested. The “gift shops” are really just little stands run by locals selling post cards and chocolate, but there are some good food carts too. Chilean food and hospitality are great. “