My rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
As a child, I spend the happiest years of my childhood in Chile and it was the beginning of my love affair with Latin America. My parents loved to travel in the country and I was always tagged along, going to the South to the icecaps and North to the Atacama deserts. I learned Spanish from my mother. Sadly, we left Chile after Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973.
Sarah Wheeler went to Chile in the 1990’s and begun traveling through the country starting from the North all the way to the South and finally managing to get to Antarctica.
Sarah is a keen, witty writer. I loved her evocative descriptions, both of the people she meets and the country’s natural beauty. Near the Atacama Desert, on Christmas day, she silently watches as a flock of flamingoes fly off: “great sprays of pink foam”. The people she interacts with come alive here: Pepe who resembles a “young Dali” and who rescues her when her car breaks down and Gloria, a curator of a Mapuche museum, an independent woman not the type that’s found in the rural setting.
What I love in the book is the way the author intertwines the past and the present, giving a clear connection between the two.
My only problem with Wheeler is that she often leaves out details every avid reader would love to know about. For example, she says that stayed at the worst hotel but she never mentions what really made it so awful, or she says she stopped to have a hot sandwich but doesn’t say exactly what she ate(I love food and I really felt offended!).
However, her journey through Chile brought some nostalgic memories and made me want to head there straight away.