Chilling Out in Chile

This item appears on page 21 of the July 2021 issue.
Flag of Chile

The topic “Chilling Out in Chile” sparked a large number of people to enter ITN’s essay contest, with many creative approaches to the subject. ITN staff judges whittled the submissions down to a select three, and the essay taking the first-place spot is that of SUE SANDERS of Arvada, Colorado, who wins an ITN mug. With essays in second and third place, respectively, ANGIE COSEY of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and JAMES McGEE of Sun City, California, win 1-year extensions to their ITN subscriptions. Congratulations, all!

The topic currently in play is “In Tune with Tunis.” If you are an ITN subscriber and have been to Tunis, Tunisia, pen an essay, in no more than 300 words. Express the mood of the place, what it felt like to be there, or get across what the local people were like, or describe a meaningful encounter you had, or share any insights you gained into the culture. Use words to paint pictures of things you saw.

Email your essay to or send it to Essay Contest, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include your mailing or billing address. The deadline is Aug. 31, 2021. A prize will be given for the winning essay, which will appear in ITN.

In January 2004, I traveled to Patagonia with Odysseys Unlimited of Newton, Massachusetts. From Punta Arenas, Chile, located on the Strait of Magellan, we drove northwest for three hours to Puerto Natales, a town of about 15,000 and the closest town to Torres del Paine National Park.

En route, the rolling pampas had many wildflowers. Scotch broom, white and yellow daisies and white, pink, lavender and blue lupines were growing everywhere.

At the shore were beached fishing boats, and small, low gaucho houses marked the occasional estancia or sheep ranch. We saw lots of sheep and several gauchos galloping along on horses, trailed by their dogs.

Flocks of ostrich-like rheas were on the pampas, as condors with their huge wingspreads soared overhead. Herds of guanacos, similar to llamas, were in fields alongside the road.

The jagged peaks of the Torres del Paine heaved up from the earth and stood in granite majesty without foothills (somewhat like the Grand Tetons in Wyoming) — awesome and stunning.

In addition to the Torres, there were lakes of incredible turquoise blue or emerald green plus the Patagonian Ice Field (the third largest in the world after Antarctica’s and Greenland’s) with its blue ice. Overhead, clouds were swirling striations as a result of the fierce wind.

On a Saturday afternoon in Puerto Natales, I walked the few streets of the town and observed the people. Soldiers from the nearby border post were looking at the girls, who were looking at the soldiers, and young people were aimlessly wandering the windswept streets hoping for something exciting to happen.

All the while, overhead, the swinging store signs were creaking and moaning in the wind: “Queech, queech, queech, queech.”

James McGee
Sun City, CA



We’d left a little later than planned, and now our car was careening down a one-lane road across a remote island in the South Pacific, literally racing the Earth’s rotation.

It was Easter Day, and we’d come to Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, to watch the sun rise at Ahu Tongariki.

Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial platform on the island, and upon it stand 15 restored moai, the gargantuan stone men who guard the ancestors of Rapa Nui. They stand like giant sentinels with their backs to the sea, sightless eyes staring across a wide and empty plain toward the quarry where they were born. The water is almost lapis blue, and the waves crash against the black rocks in a spray of sea mist.

Rapa Nui is a magical place, at once mystical and beautiful and intimidating — the kind of place you must travel to the end of the world to find yourself in. The moai, hundreds of years old and dozens of feet high, tower forbiddingly over the rocky landscape, while the fickle ocean in the distance flings itself onto shore again and again.

As we watched and waited, the sun rose slowly, inexorably, behind the moai, striping the sky in candy-colored hues of red and gold and pink. The new light glowed between the sentries and shimmered off the sea in effulgent flashes.

We stayed for a long time, and when the sun was nearing its zenith, left the moai to their silent vigil.

Angie Cosey
Lansdowne, PA



A January 2020 visit to Chile was a wonderful adventure in a country of passionate people, vibrant colors, and music. Chile was also a country of contrasts.

In Santiago, the student demonstrations had left boarded-up windows, burned buildings, and political graffiti. At our hotel, a guard was always posted at the locked front door to keep non-guests out.

But in the park a block away in the evening, families were playing games, laughing, and picnicking. People were friendly, whether it was a café owner, helping interpret the menu and wanting to talk about Colorado, or the carabinero, who didn’t speak English, helping us with directions.

Vendors in the open-air market proudly showed us their wares. In the main square, musicians played for a large crowd of old and young people singing along to familiar songs. Their CD reminds us of the joyous music. Ironically, they were standing in front of a Subway restaurant.

On the way to Valparaíso, there were more contrasts. Fog-covered mountains were a backdrop for valley vineyards providing wonderful wine. In Viña del Mar, modern buildings backed beautiful gardens and the famous flower clock. Overlooking the ocean, we ate empanadas surrounded by smiling, Spanish-speaking tourists enjoying a trip to the beach.

Along Valparaíso’s narrow, winding streets, beautiful murals covered entire buildings, celebrating a proud culture steeped in history, myth, and religion. Vibrant colors were everywhere, from the buildings to the flowers flowing from balconies. Musicians played in the streets and along the boardwalk. Once again, towering over the charming old buildings were modern buildings.

Chile fed our passion for travel and will be remembered as our last trip before the world of travel changed.

Sue Sanders
Arvada, CO