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The Professor That Changed my Life

Date: May 1, 2024 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

Chile 301

Chile has been near to my heart since I was in university learning about the regime in charge decades ago. In 1998, one of my favorite professors was part of the national security team for Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, and Ford, all the way up to the first 100 days of Ronald Reagan. Can you imagine serving that many presidents from both parties during those years? It was this professor who got me within inches of taking the necessary exams to enter the foreign civil service. To me somehow learning about the death of JFK, the various crises, in Vietnam, and the deaths of MLK and RFK from someone who was in the Oval Office for all of it, was indescribable, and like a sponge, I had soaked it all in. Among the things we discussed at length during his lectures was the rise of Pinochet as Chile’s leader and the ramifications of his policies with US ties. We had conversations using declassified information to decipher if our government supported the coup and installing Pinochet, as the two were not mutually exclusive. In fact, my professor often said Chile was the key cog in the region, something that could be argued today as well.


Just recently, I was thinking about my professor as I read an article about Chile’s economic growth showcasing how the tourism export in 2022 was double that of 2019. This was something we talked about in 1998, countries that were transformed from failed or marginal players to regional powerhouses through an in-demand export. There is no better example of this than tourism, a $300 billion-plus economy and one of the strongest in Latin America. In Chile’s case, it comes with what we at Big Five see now as a paradigm shift, with foreign entities now owning or being major investors in some of the most well-known lodges in Chile, and the rise of smaller locally owned properties that bring Chile’s indigenous cultures forward, not just the natural beauty. It is this equation that needs to evolve and constantly rewritten to keep sustainable tourism front and center in Chile and part of the discussion as we get into the ethics of sourcing lithium for electric cars, something Chile is also a leader in.


This week, we showcase Chile, beyond Patagonia, beyond Atacama. This is the Chile that Big Five actively promotes, as it is the Chile that still tells the story of what my professor talked about. These are the parts of Chile that embrace the delicate history that formed the character you see today if you go beyond and onto the road few travel.


Enjoy the video, and explore our latest Tour Chile & Bolivia; Art, Wine and Salt

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