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Pole to Pole

Day 133: Santiago, Chile

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleSantiago. Tuesday morning. It took us nearly three months to travel 6800 miles down the length of Africa, and only forty-eight hours to travel 6200 miles from South Africa to Chile.

Nor, after all this, are we any nearer our final destination. Santiago and Cape Town are both, at 33 degrees South, some 4200 miles from the South Pole. There are other similarities. Both cities have a temperate climate and a distinctly European feel, reflecting the style and taste of the early settlers - Spanish in Chile and British in the Cape. Both produce good wine. Both have a recent political history of violence, oppression and varying degrees of international ostracism. The father and two brothers of Patricio, our guide and fixer in Santiago, were arrested and imprisoned in 1973 for supporting President Allende, General Pinochet's socialist predecessor, and Patricio himself was expelled from the university for his political views. He is not angry any more, nor does he regard himself as particularly unfortunate. Pinochet's police arrested 250,000 suspected Allende supporters and held them in national sports stadiums for up to three months - 2000 are still missing without trace. Though Chile now has a reformist, liberal president, Patricio Aylwyn, they are still missing and Pinochet is still Commander-in-Chief of the army.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 133
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Santiago
  • Book page no: 295

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