Its all fun and games until your airline goes bust

Oh South America! A magical land of Shamans, Llamas, great dancing, breathtaking mountains, and an unhealthy addiction to beef. My better half, Lorraine, and myself have been looking forward to this much-needed trip for nearly six months and as usual, we had put a lot on our plate. The itinerary was Frankfurt, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Santiago (Chile). Then Santiago to Mendoza (Argentina), Mendoza to Buenos Aires, then Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls and back with a couple of days in Uruguay for good measure before we make our return flights home via Santiago. That is the plan until we find out in Frankfurt that the airline we are due to fly with (Varig, one of south Americas oldest and largest) has gone bust. Well that’s the word on the street, or airport terminal, as we gather with a considerable crowd of very unhappy and worn out looking people trying to make there way to their respective homes. We talked to a very nice South African couple who were stuck in Mexico but managed to get a flight to Frankfurt as they await a connection to Johannesburg. We bought our tickets with Lufthansa and they did not seem keen to accommodate us saying the problem was with Varig. In fact Lufthansa have been pretty useless and not helpful at all, as I write this blog post from a hotel in Mendoza we still do not know how we will get back to Europe and Lufthansa are not replying to my mails. So we find out that Varig has been bought by one of its subsidiaries, and is not allowed to file for bankruptcy. It is offering a skeleton service and the official line is that is will resume its trans continental routes by the end of July. The news as of the 24th of July is bad. The airline is having trouble paying for landing and departure fees and fuel for its jets. More than two-thirds of its planes are grounded as leasing companies demand their craft back and Varig cannot pay for basic maintenance. This does not fill us with confidence and we are really annoyed.

But what about South America and our holiday?

We are however ,managing to have a good time with lots of relaxing being done, though the problem with our flights has cast a shadow over the trip.

Relaxing ,for me, is at the best of times a black art that I find very difficult. I find my most peaceful moments when I am in the middle of some task or other and can reach the quite “zone”, where I melt into what I am doing. If I take away these toys then I feel like I am stranded and I can get restless looking for distraction. So I have to train myself to relax, and I can find it psychically draining.

South America is a land apart. It has a wide, varied, cultural and geographic landscape. We had a fantastic visit to the pre-Columbian museum in Santiago, which has a bountiful collection of artifacts dating back many thousands of years. It really shows how advanced the native people here were in terms of their architecture, belief systems and general psychology. It reinforces my belief that mankind is not now reaching the zenith or apex of our creativity or evolution. It is to my mind the greatest crime we can commit to ourselves to label our ancestors as primitive Neanderthal idiots, incapable of advanced thought. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are going backwards and only wave the flag of “progress” to keep up our moral, as the world seems to go to hell faster than you can say “Windows”. The pieces in the museum are beautiful, sophisticated and vibrant. Many were Shamanic tools and implements used by “brujos” to connect with other more subtle realms. Others were playful day-to-day utensils that I could imagine being used around the house or for other more esoteric ceremonial purposes.

But maybe that is the point? Maybe these early cultures had a closer connection to the esoteric and spiritual, maybe it was not something separate from their day to day lives but and integral part of their essence and identity? In our modern life where we are rapidly loosing our identity as we all become pasteurised in the soup we call modernity, do we need to reconnect with these ancient parts of ourselves more than ever?

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Joshue O Connor

Musical Web Monkey with a special interest in Web Standards. For more work stuff see http://www.cfit.ie. For more music stuff see http://www.techrecord.net

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