Squeezed in between a vast ocean and the longest mountain range on earth, Chile is 2,600 miles long and never more than 110 miles wide - not a country which lends itself easily to maps. Nor, as Sara Wheeler found out, does it easily lend itself to a lone woman with two carpetbags who wishes to travel from the top to the bottom, from the driest desert in the world to the sepulchral wastes of Antarctica. Yet, despite bureaucratic, geographic and climatic setbacks, Sara Wheeler managed to complete that journey in six months, discovering en route a country that is quite extraordinarily diverse. This is an account of an odyssey which included Christmas Day spent with a llama sandwich on the Tropic of Capricorn at 13,000 feet, a sex hotel in the capital, four days wedged aboard a cargo boat, a wet tent and and high street bank in Patagonia. In Santiago she talked her way into the prisons, in Tierra del Fuego she hitched a lift around Cape Horn on a supply boat delivering a coffin, and in the high Andes she lived on a Vedic commune. From Easter in the slums to an eventful week on Robinson Crusoe Island, the author picks her way through the complex reality of South American Catholicism and the fragile peace of a newly-born democracy. She also drinks a lot of wine. This improbable ribbon of land has been home to Andean tribes who remain the most scientifically neglected people in the world; it has been conquered by conquistadores, pillaged by Sir Francis Drake (no hero in Chile), exploited by foreign imperialists, blighted by the Panama Canal, governed by the world's first democratically-elected Marxist president and stamped upon by one of this century's most reviled dictators. And, as Sara Wheeler discovered, they have all left their mark on today's Chile - an extravagantly complex country, hidden behind the Andes and stretching to the end of the world. Other work by the author includes "An Island Apart".
"Notably well written, perceptive, lively and sympathetic. Sara Wheeler is very well worth reading." --Daily Telegraph
"She is a marvelous writer--funny, elegant and observant. As a traveling companion, Sara Wheeler is shrewd and
amusing and likeable and well informed . . . not just a good but an outstanding travel writer." --The Oldie
"Always lively and informative, sketching in the history with a light but sure touch . . . she admirably conveys the mood
of contemporary Chile." --The New Statesman
"A gifted writer with a knack for discovering the unexpected . . . Ms. Wheeler is a writer with attitude." --The Hindu
From the Back Cover
Squeezed between a vast ocean and the longest mountain range on earth, Chile is 2,600 miles long and never more than 110 miles wide--not a country that lends itself to maps, as Sara Wheeler discovered when she traveled alone from the top to the bottom, from the driest desert in the world to the sepulchral wastes of Antarctica. Eloquent, astute, nimble with history and deftly amusing, Travels in a Thin Country established Sara Wheeler as one of the very best travel writers in the world.
From the Inside Flap