It was 273 days.

Or, put another way, it was:


  • 8.98 months (I coulda had a baby!)
  • 39 weeks
  • 74.79% of the year
  • 6,552 hours
  • 393,120 minutes

That’s how long it had been since I’d last traveled out of the country. For me, that’s a LONG time. A VERY long time!

Too damn long, that’s for sure!

I probably could have been traveling sooner than this, but after my ovarian cancer diagnosis was divulged to me on July 6 last year, I had a general expectation that I’d be sick (from cancer or chemotherapy, or both) – and/or that my immunity would be compromised – and/or I’d be weak. But, thankfully, none of that has happened.

Last September, I got a “save the date” email about a trade show on board a small cruise ship in Chilean Patagonia for early April 2017. I immediately calendared it with only a single question mark. Chile – especially Patagonia – had been on my bucket list for a long time. Plus, the opportunity to cruise the Straits of Magellan, see the sights and learn about small hotels and lodges in Central and South America was an experience I could not – would not – miss.

As many of you can attest, I’ve been plotting and scheming to operate a Patagonia journey for the WOW! Travel Club for years. There are many destinations in the world for which I can create the perfect itinerary without having personally experienced the place. But Patagonia is not one of those places.

I’ve been tripped up by the overwhelming number of spectacularly beautiful attractions (mountains, lakes, volcanoes, glaciers), accommodations (luxury hotels, eco lodges, yurts), and logistical considerations (is it really a 5-hour drive from point to point??). What places do I include and what places do I leave out? How many nights do we stay before moving on? Do we stay in Chile or venture over the border into Argentina? When is the best time to go – for weather, for value, for the optimum experience? What other places should I include on an itinerary: Santiago, Valparaiso, the Lake District, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert?

As you can tell – it’s a tough job! But somebody’s gotta do it.

So I bit the bullet and flew down to the southern part of our hemisphere to do my research. My husband, Scott, would join me after the cruise and we’d spend nine additional nights exploring various regions of Chile together. And, oh, was it ever a magnificent adventure!

Doing the "WOW" pose at every opportunity in Patagonia!

Doing the “WOW” pose at every opportunity in Patagonia!

And, doing the "WOW" pose at every opportunity in the Atacama Desert!

And, doing the “WOW” pose at every opportunity in the Atacama Desert!

This could easily stretch into a four-part blog but I think I’ll just give you a taste of what I discovered. To start with, a few facts and impressions:

  • Chile is as long (north to south) as the US is wide (east to west)!

  • The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar place on earth and is being used by NASA to test instruments for future missions to Mars!

    I took this photo through the front windshield of our touring van . . . miles of perfectly straight roadway!

    I took this photo through the front windshield of our touring van . . . miles of perfectly straight roadway!

  • While waiting for a domestic flight, I noticed the ground crew (wing-walkers, etc.) from the domestic airline lining up to wave goodbye to the aircraft as soon as it began to taxi to the runway!
  • They allow liquids (in reasonable amounts) through airport security!

  • At hotels, when I hung up my towel on the rack, the maids cooperated and didn’t automatically change it (like they seem to do almost everywhere else – even at properties that boast of being “eco-friendly”)!

  • Although I had free wifi almost everywhere, it was a pleasure to not be bombarded with newspapers and televisions everywhere we went.

  • Chile is clean, safe and friendly.

And one cute story from our final day: We took a morning tour in the Atacama Desert with two couples from Britain who kept referring to “geezers.” I shifted from indignation to amusement when I realized that they were not referring to me and Scott, but that’s how they pronounce “geysers”!

Oh, the joys of travel – and how happy I am to be back on the road again!!


Comments? Who wants to come to Patagonia with me? (I’m thinking of operating in late November/early December 2018.)