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Bogota Colombia The Patagonia Travel Travel Insurance

The Last Flight Out

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I was in Bogota Columbia and had just ordered my lunch at the Albahaca Restaurante, it was 1 PM Thursday, March 19th. While I was waiting for my food I took out my cell and opened the NY Times app which headlined the US government advised that all US Citizens should return home immediately or be prepared to stay where they were overseas indefinitely. Wow! Next, I called my friend Marc who works in the American consulate in Juarez Mexico and asked him what was happening and his only answer was for me to leave immediately for home.

My original return flight back to New York was on April 7 with American Airlines. When I called AA to re-book the flight I went right into a hold and when I tried their website it was not functioning. Chase Travel who booked a flight for me put me on indefinite hold also and was not much help either.

What am I supposed to do, wait?

Bogota International Airport
<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">It was at 2 PM when I searched for online return flights and bought a new ticket on the Copa Airlines website for a flight out a 9 PM that night. I quickly packed, I just threw everything in the suitcase, and grabbed a cab to the Bogota Airport, I made it to the airport by 3 PM, six hours later my flight left on time, the stopover was in Panama City, the next morning I flew to JFK; all the flights were uneventful.It was at 2 PM when I searched for online return flights and bought a new ticket on the Copa Airlines website for a flight out a 9 PM that night. I quickly packed, I just threw everything in the suitcase, and grabbed a cab to the Bogota Airport, I made it to the airport by 3 PM, six hours later my flight left on time, the stopover was in Panama City, the next morning I flew to JFK; all the flights were uneventful.

It was smart to move that fast and I was very lucky to make it home before everything shut down. From my understanding, the Bogota airport closed Thursday, March 19th at midnight which was three hours after I departed. JFK closed March 20th.

My travel insurance company will not pay for anything, not the new return flight home, not for the Bogota rent that I paid in advance, nor the food I left in the refrigerator in Bogota, nada nothing. American Airlines told me yesterday April 18, 2020, that they will refund me 15 dollars for the canceled return flight from Bogota to Miami to JFK which originally cost over eight hundred dollars.

The point is that for 2 days I had to completely rely on myself with no support or assistance from any of the airlines, travel agents, backup or insurance systems I had in place. I paid through the nose for everything and when push comes to shove the people I engaged and who were supposed to look out or assist me did not answer the phone.

<p class="has-text-align-center" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>From the New York Times on March 19, 2020. Should I stay or should I go?</strong>From the New York Times on March 19, 2020. Should I stay or should I go?

Note, eventually my return ticket on American Airlines was refunded to me.

Categories
Bogota Colombia Travel

Colombia

Heading back to Bogota on Tuesday morning, it’s a 8 to 10-hour bus trip through the mountains and the suburbs of the city. There is more to do in Bogota than in the campo especially if I am not fishing. I also want more Spanish tutoring, even though it’s expensive it does help my confidence with the language. Additionally, in Bogota, I am better able to manage my diet as there are more restaurants and markets with healthier food, I am limited to tourist fare here in Salento.

Valle de Corcora; The creeks and streams are running clear up in the mountains even with all the heavy rains. The steep mountains are forested or grassy, and although there are places where there are cattle herds, the streams run clean

I have noticed here in Salento in the Department of Quindio, Colombia, that there are many small properties with well maintained barbed wire fences between them, which gives me pause. I have not found that in Chilean Patagonia. Properties there are much larger, and the barb wire fences maintained with only a couple of wires that are easy to slip through. In this area of Colombia, the locals are catching the trout to sell to the restaurants.

My stomach has settled down, it makes life so much easier when I do not have to be located near a head. 

I am lining up my to-do’s when I arrive in Chile. Hopefully, my Entel Telephone SIM card will still work, and I only have to add data to get the phone up and running. I also need to buy a fishing license. In the past, I purchased my fishing license in Puerto Montt, at the main commercial and sport fishing office; buying a license in Coyhaique will be a new experience. It was easier.

I am still trying to rent a car, and I found a few very good prices. It would be a great advantage for a week or two when exploring and looking for Chinook in Aysen Provence.

None of my Facebook friends in Coyhaique will tell me where they catch salmon. They post impressive pictures with great stories of the humongous fish they caught, but when I ask “WHERE,” I get nada, nothing, totally ignored, they are guides after all. You know me and my where’s, “where did you catch that”? Next winter, I will stay upstate for the winter, or most of it, and I will try and get a guide’s license. It would be great to guide on the Pepacton and its tributaries for bass and trout. What do you think?

That’s it for today

Categories
The Patagonia

Bus Trips

Eleven hours to go less than 300 miles, but there were spectacular mountain peaks with vertical sides surrounded by clouds, twisting two-lane roads, bottomless gorges, endless cliffs 2 feet away from the bus that dropped down forever, but it was a modern road. Day off today.

Have I written about the marches, protests, and in Chile’s case, riots taking place in South America? Chile has seen all the above for the past month. People and police have died, buildings, stores, transportation facilities have burned, and teargas and Molotov cocktails tossed in multiple cities. Columbia is a lot calmer, but there have been national strikes. Today there is another one. I am not fearful, but I am concerned about what is happening in Chile and how it will affect my journey.

Cali is hopping today! Columbia has had a national strike, but I am in one of the better parts of town. There is no unrest here. Last night some marchers passed by the Hotel Intercontinental just down the street. Today there are supposed to be marches that will pass close by me. Right now, there are lots of helicopters flying. I think I will lay low, stay close to home, and reduce my profile.

I hear the march off in the distance and it is getting closer, there are lots of people, whistles, chanting, honking horns, and police sirens.

All quiet now and there were no problems.

Categories
Bogota Colombia The Patagonia Travel

Bogota, Colombia

I have been in Bogotá now for nearly four weeks. I would have left five days ago, but the national strike and a severe cold persuaded me to put it off for a few more days. I leave tomorrow for Cali. I changed AirBnB a few days ago, and my new hosts, Claudia and Jairo, have been Saints. When I arrived at the new place, all I wanted to do was sleep, and I could not think about my food. I’d be in bed with the covers piled high when the tap would come on the door and invited to a meal. Claudia and Jairo Have been feeding me three meals a day. Of course, I contributed to the cost.

Last Thursday, there were large protests here in Bogota. I did not go out that day, which I attributed more to my cold than to fear, but I did hear marchers and pot banging in the distance. This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the city has been tranquil, most of the shops closed early, and there have been police curfews at night. What is happening here is not like the marches, protests, and riots I have seen on the news occurring in Chile. I am concerned and a bit uncomfortable about my imminent visit to Chile even though my friends in Coyhaique assure me that all is quiet.

The bus trip to Cali should take about 10 hours even though it’s only 200 miles. To go to the airport is such a pain, why not take a bus. By bus, I can see the countryside, travel through the mountains, and meet new people. Why not? I will report back on Tuesday.

Categories
Chile Tourism Fishing Fly Fishing The Patagonia Travel Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Again

Where is our trout?

I strongly suggest that voyagers use travel insurance. The policies I purchased have paid for themselves a couple of times on past trips. Travel Insurance makes life much less stressful. If you happen to get sick or hurt, they could save your life or even a small fortune. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you will be covered for additional charges, delays, meals, and hotel rooms. Remember to keep every single receipt; copy them on your cell phone scanner app.

Categories
Chile Tourism The Patagonia Travel Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

The travel insurance company I have been using is TripInsurance.com. When I have submitted claims, they paid promptly. TI has different levels of coverage at several price points. The site is easy to access, read, and understand. You decide what you need and purchase it when you buy your flight ticket.

For example, last September 2017, I purchased a round-trip ticket from New York’s JFK to Santiago, Chile, on Avianca Airlines, leaving the USA in mid-October 2017 and returning on March 29th, 2018. The Avianca ticket was 500 dollars cheaper than American Airlines. Five days before my flight to Chile, I tried to check my trip online, and there was nothing! I called and emailed the airline, but no answer. I looked at the news about Avianca and found out that its pilots were on strike and all flights were canceled. Since I had brought my tickets with my Chase Sapphire credit card through Chase Travel, they were able to cancel the trip for me, refund my money, and then book my seats on American Airlines for the same travel days. Lucky me! TripInsurance.com made up the difference in the cost of the flights. I recouped one-third of the value of the insurance.

Another example of TripInsurance.com working for me was in 2014. I made a month’s vacation to Argentina and Chile. When I was to fly back from Buenos Aires in January 2015, a tremendous snowstorm happened on the USA’s East Coast, and JFK was closed. I holed up at the Airport Hotel in BA for five days while waiting for a flight home. TripInsurance.com paid for the full stay, room, and board, read Argentinian Filet Mignon.

Remember that not all travel insurance companies are the same; Travelinsurance.com has worked well for me twice in the past 3 trips. I trust them.

I have also heard that American Airlines Credit Cards are worthwhile, but I have no experience with them.

My homeowners and renters insurance will cover me for theft and loss of personal property while traveling internationally but remember, watch your stuff! Keep everything tight and organized and look under the bed when you move to the next spot, and be sure not to leave your fly rods in the trunk of the cab! I photograph all my gear before I go, so there is a record of what I traveled with if I need to prove it.

Auto insurance for a rental car is the policy listed on the credit card you use to rent the vehicle and the car rental agency’s paperwork when you rent it. The auto insurance policy you have for your car at home will not cover you outside of the USA! Premium Credit Cards have adequate rental car insurance, but it is a complicated policy, make sure you understand it.

I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of health and travel insurance, even if your journey is only a couple of weeks long. Flight delays and cancellations, illness, and lost luggage or papers can be stressful and expensive. Travel insurance will cover your ass. It is worth it, buy it and relax.

Keep backup photocopies of passport, health and travel insurance, credit cards, & license, store the copies securely.

TripInsurance.com

https://www.aig.com/travel-guard

Categories
The Patagonia

New Friends

Such a lovely day on the La Dificultad Road

And I made new friends

Hello I am friendly will you rub me?

Hello human

This is my baby brother

Smile and say cheese.
Categories
Fishing The Patagonia Travel

When To Go to Patagonia

The height of the tourist season is January and February, it is South America’s summer vacation, and it seems every young adventurer is on the road in Patagonia. A good book is Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia.


Never forget that during summer in Patagonia, the weather is highly changeable. It can be a lovely day, then the next moment, a sunny day becomes windy, rainy, and cold with snow in the high country. Bring wind and rain gear made of synthetic fabric or wool. One of my better choices last year was waterproof above ankle hiking boots. I was initially thinking of saving weight and only carrying sneakers but thought better of it. Occasionally it was very wet and muddy, and sneakers would never have dried out; my feet would have been freezing. Another good piece to bring along are gaters, not only for the mud but also for the spiny plant burrs that will coat and destroy your sox when hiking along roads or through the brush.

A few words on lodging. During Patagonia’s summer season, from January to March, many hotels are booked in advance. Hostels can be full, AirBnB prices rise, and pickings are slim. My suggestion is to know where you are going and make reservations in a few month’s advance.

If you stay in an Airbnb, your meals might not be included, and you will have to shop or bring food with you. Is there a supermarket or bodega nearby where you can get the necessities for cooking meals or local restaurants?

Categories
Fishing The Patagonia Travel

Planning

I have nothing to do but plan another trip to Chile and The Patagonia. I’ll be damned if I spend a freezing winter upstate in the Catskills trying to keep busy and wishing I were somewhere else. This year I will expand upon the trip I made last winter, 2016-17, when I visited Chile for the first time and loved it.

My journey last year was entirely solo, self-planned and guided, I had a blast.

I planned the trip myself and my source materials were found in online websites, guidebooks, Google Maps, and my imagination.

Here is a movie I made in Cochrane Chile last year during a Rodeo Festival.