Saturday March 20 2010
Last day in Santiago for the group. Today we had the opportunity to visit Lodge Andino El Ingenio in the foothills of the Andes. Most of the group elected horseback riding; we had to stay in the valley because of fears that aftershocks could result in falling debris if we were further uphill.
After the outdoors activity we had a wonderful lunch, some poolside relaxation and then it was time for the bus ride to the airport. There was significant damage to the airport from the earthquake, but operations were getting closer to normal. There was a holding area under a tent where everyone had to stay until three hours before their flight. Then we picked up already printed out boarding passes outside the terminal. From there we proceeded to bag check, immigration and security -- all of which were set up in areas that had previously been allocated to other functions. Took only about 45 minutes for all of this, leaving the students time to say goodbye before hopping on return flights.
Kudos to the Austral Group for organizing and escorting the NC State team for a wonderful week in Chile. Based on the learning objectives for the course and the background and interests of the students, the Austral Group put together an itinerary that exposed us to a wide range of companies and industries. All of the presenters were engaging and polished presenters. The on-ground staff -- Ignacio and Shirly in BA and Claudia and Alejandra in Santiago -- were simultaneously professional and fun to be with. The cultural opportunities were all outstanding. I would certainly work with them again if I were to take a group to South America.