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Balmaceda. It sounds nice doesn't it? After all there's a glacier called Balmaceda and a mountain too. We saw them the other day and they were nice. Balmaceda the town (although I doubt that it's big enough to qualify as a town really) is 800km north of Punta Arenas. Our original flight tickets had us flying back to Santiago from here in a few days' time. When we arrived in Punta Arenas, we bought a flight to Balmaceda and thought we'd leave ourselves a night in here because we had time. We moved both of these flights to slightly earlier in the week because we had done most of what we wanted to do in and around Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.
So, this morning we boarded our flight to Balmaceda not really knowing what to expect of it. It's hard to find it on some maps and in our guidebook there wasn't anything really said about it (that should have been a warning). As the plane flew over the airport and circled to land I think that Claire and I were having the same thoughts. What were we going to do here for 22 hours?
From the air, Balmaceda looked tiny. The airport runway is bigger than the town itself, although the runway looked quite small. I was surprised not only that Lan Chile fly here but that the runway was big enough for our Airbus! Very quickly, we decided to try and change our flight and to see if we could get back on our plane and carry on to Santiago. Unfortunately, we were not able to although we did manage to get a later flight. That still left us with 6 hours to kill. Being so small, Balmaceda doesn't receive many flights. In fact, our flight, in 5 hours' time, is the next one and the airport has shut down for the time being.
We managed to store our luggage first and decided to take a quick walk around Balmaceda. Quick was the operative word. It took only 25 minutes to walk from the airport around the town and get back to the airport again. Here's what Balmaceda looks like:
There's no internet to be found here so I'll post this when we get to Santiago. If we get to Santiago! Like Royston Vasey, it may not be possible to leave!!!!!
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