We’re not gonna make it…

I’m late. I’ve missed it. There’s no way I can make this flight.

It’s my fault. I slept in, but the taxi ride also didn’t help.

Upon waking, I’d slowly cleared the sleep from my eyes and glanced nonchalantly at the clock. Then, In one terrifying instant, I realised I had about 65 minutes to get on the plane to Easter Island. Not 65 minutes to arrive at the airport with sufficient time to check in and drop off my luggage and walk to the departure gate and spend my life savings on an airport coffee… 65 minutes until take-off.

That’s impossible.

How did I not wake up? Did I not set the alarm, did I sleep through it, was the room too dark, was it too quiet – how, it was in the middle of Santiago, the bustling and busy capital of Chile?

Anyway, I didn’t have time to ponder. I had to get to the airport- fast.

Luckily, I’d packed my bags and left out essential items the night before – including my now redundant watch. I threw on some clothes, threw the key at reception and raced outside to find a taxi – in the middle of Santiago, the bustling and busy capital of Chile.

I’m not gonna make it, I’m not gonna make it…I kept repeating in my head. Idiot!, stupid fool! I’d paid a lot of money for this flight to see one of the true wonders of the world. It was one of the destinations around which I’d arranged my nine-month round-the-world trip, and now I was about to miss out.

You fool!

Taxis flew by ferrying Chileans to work, and I tried in vain to catch the attention of one taxi, any taxi. I was having as much luck hailing a taxi as I do hailing waitstaff at cafes – then my stomach growled. Taxi after taxi streamed by, until one finally crossed two lanes of traffic and stopped abruptly at my feet. Horns honked and motorists shouted abuse, but neither the taxi driver nor I took any notice. I needed a ride, he needed the fare. I threw my pack on the back seat and jumped into the passenger seat.

He said something. I didn’t understand.

He said it again. I still didn’t understand.

Then I saw it.

As I glanced up from my daypack and the seatbelt buckle, I noticed his face. He had a cleft lip and subsequent speech impediment. That in itself wasn’t a problem. After all, this good man may have just saved my bacon, because although I wasn’t hopeful of making the flight on time, it was still mathematically and physically possible.

The problem was that his cleft lip made his speech very difficult to understand, and my Spanish was rudimentary at best. This would complicate matters.

I deduced from context that he’d asked where I wanted to go,

Aeropuerto! I said, hoping that we could at least set off in the direction of the airport while we tried to provide each other with the details.

“And I’ll give you another 50 if you get me there on time,” I was about to say, but this was no time for Hollywood cliches. Somehow, though, I managed to communicate to him that I was running late – very late.

He spoke again – I had no idea what he said. He tried again, and the whole time the clock was winding down. On his third of fourth attempt, I think I heard the Spanish equivalent of ‘international’ and ‘domestic’.

Good question.

Domestic, I proffered, and he changed lanes in the direction of what was hopefully the domestic airport or terminal.

Wait- is that right, I asked myself. In my highly flummoxed state, maybe I’d confused myself. Easter Island is technically part of Chile, despite lying a long way from the mainland. This fact could save me, because I wasn’t required to arrive at the airport so early…

On the other hand, it could be an international flight. I couldn’t remember. LAN Chile was carrying me to the mythical island (if I made it) and the national carrier sometimes stopped at Easter Island before continuing to Pape’ete, and Auckland on its way to Sydney. So, was it international? If so, was that a different terminal or a different airport? We were heading in the direction of the domestic terminal, I think, and requesting a change of direction in my woeful Spanish would have been very difficult. I’ll just leave it. It’s too late now.

But what if I’m wrong?

Then my stomach growled again.

I was about to dive into my daypack for my itinerary and or my Lonely Planet when the driver asked me another question.

I didn’t understand a word. Again he tried. I apologised that I didn’t know what he was saying. I could sense his awareness that his cleft lip was hindering communication as much as the language barrier. I could also sense he was becoming annoyed as he thrust his old taxi more aggressively in and out of traffic to the displeasure of fellow motorists.

I felt insensitive and incompetent. I should have set two alarms.

I fished for my itinerary, because this was in the days of paper flight tickets – remember them? I found the paper and searched for any information which I would relay to the driver which might allow us to pull off a miracle.

LAN Chile, I said, before reading out the flight time, the terminal, the destination and any other information I could find. I don’t know how much of this was necessary, but at least this stopped me from looking at my watch every two seconds. He seemed satisfied and he stepped on the accelerator and tore through the traffic. Even if I don’t make it, this guy deserves a tip, I thought. He can use it to buy himself a drink, or pay a speeding fine.

Soon, my spirits lifted as I saw signs for Aeropuerto. Still the driver swerved through traffic with reckless abandon. I still wasn’t sure if he was committed to delivering his passenger on time, or just releasing his frustration via the accelerator.

Closer and closer we crept and somehow the traffic seemed to clear. He kept his foot planted and his eyes fixed on the road and I saw planes circling, landing and taking off. We might just make it; or that LAN Chile plane I just saw could be on its way to Easter Island.

We tore along the expressway and soon approached the airport entrance. The driver said something which I also didn’t understand, but I determined he was asking me if I wanted him to drop me at the airport entrance or continue to the departure gates. I think the answer was obvious, but he signalled money.

Don’t worry, you’ll definitely get a tip.

He snaked his way through the clogged traffic of the drop off point and stopped the cab in the middle of the road, with hazard lights blinking. I threw him a wad of cash, which he indicated was sufficient, then I grabbed my pack, thanked him profusely and sprinted towards the check in.

In the space of a few minutes, I somehow managed to push my way to the front of the check in line, dump my pack, pass through security and dash to the departure gate. I sprinted through the airport gates past bewildered passengers, with barely enough time to flash my boarding pass at airline staff and squeeze through the closing doors and on to the plane.

That’s one way to avoid spending your life savings on an airport coffee.

Image: Ulvi Safari

The Daily Double: Surf and Ski in one day.

Where in the world is it possible to surf and ski/snowboard in the same day?

I almost did it once, in Australia, but I can’t genuinely lay claim to having experienced this rare privilege of outdoor sports. I enjoyed a bodysurf somewhere on the far south coast of NSW, Australia, then drove with friends to the snowy mountains and hiked for a few hours that afternoon through patches of summer snow.

I know it doesn’t count but it made me curious and very keen to experience the real thing – a surf in the morning and a ski in the afternoon, or vice versa, as long as you see foam and powder before the sun sets. That said, with so many ski resorts offering night skiing under lights, you could ski in far away lands, or take your time in the waves before heading to the slopes.

California, USA

Southern California is home to great surfing beaches and snow-capped mountains. So blessed are the locals in this part of the world that surfing and skiing on the same day is known as the California Double or the Twofer.

One combo is Huntington Beach and Mountain High, which are about 90 minutes apart. Another popular double is Lower Trestles (San Clemente) to Bear Mountain. They are both enticing options on their own, and are just two hours apart – enough time to grab some tasty Mexican food on your way to the powder. You could also opt for Santa Monica to Mount Baldy, or Ocean Beach to Boreal Mountain Resort.

While you’re in Cali, you might be lucky enough to meet The Governator, or be discovered by a director and appear in a Hollywood blockbuster. The question is, are you cool enough to visit SoCal?

New Zealand

New Zealand is another nation blessed with a long coastline near steep mountains.

If you can handle wild and woolly weather and big swells, check out Raglan and Piha on the north island, as well as Boulders Bay, before driving for about an hour to Mt. Taranaki and the Manganui Ski Area. The South Island Twofer is doable at Taylor’s Mistake, a beach break near Christchurch, and Mt Hutt, just two hours away. At Mt Hutt, get ready to get vertical.

Chile

The thin mountainous nation of Chile offers quality waves and snow from June to October. When the temperature drops in the Southern Hemisphere, the Andes catch snow and the coast catches a swell.

Head to Valparaiso for a surf then up to Valle Nevado. The three-hour drive rewards you with waves and ski slopes. An extra hour in the car lets you ski at Nevado and surf at one of Chile’s most famous breaks, Pichilemu. For off-piste skiing and heli-skiing, try Nevado or La Parva, El Colorado and Farellones.

If you pack your passport, you could surf in Chile and ski in Argentina. Ski resorts such as Bariloche, Las Lenas and La Hoya share the same mountain range as the Chilean resorts. They are located near airports, so you could fly to the slopes from Santiago after a morning surf and a 1-2 hr bus ride from the coast.

For a real challenge, and a story to dine out on, ski at Cerro Castor, right at the southern tip of Argentina, and find some waves at the end of the world. You might need a dry suit and a rescue party on standby, because you’re almost surfing in Antarctica. Has this been done?

France

France is famous for elite skiers and wonderful ski resorts, and every surfer knows the name Biarritz. Fortunately, the surf beaches and the mountains are not too far apart.

When snow blankets the Alps and Pyrenees, the big swells arrive at breaks like Belharra. If you don’t want to stare death in the face at Belharra, or get lost in the crowds at Biarritz, pop over to the Basque Country to beaches such as Anglet, Hossegor or Guethary.

Australia

In theory, it’s possible.

Go for an early at a beach on the far south coast of NSW, or even into Victoria, then across to the snowy mountains which straddle the border between NSW and Victoria, for a late afternoon ski. It would be a very long day, and one destination where night skiing is an advantage.

Algeria

Algeria is an off-the-beaten track destination for both skiing and surfing, and an even more surprising destination for people looking to do both. It is possible. Surf break Decaplage is less than two hours drive from the ski resort of Chrea. This could be the best magical mystery tour of any of the destinations listed in this article – why not give it a go?

Morocco

Still in North Africa, Morocco has both surf and snow. Between January and late March consistent swell hits the North Atlantic along Morocco’s beach breaks and reef breaks, throwing up all kinds of waves.

Distance is the killer in the Moroccan daily double. The ski resort at Oukaimeden is a four-hour drive from the nearest beach at Essaouira, and about 5 hours from the most famous surf spot in Morocco, Taghazout. But, if you like long drives through the countryside, you can surf and ski in the same day in Morocco.

South Africa

At the other end of the continent, South Africa offers a daily double. Get in the green room at breaks such as Dunes, Crans, The Hoek and Pebbles near Cape Town, then travel for about 2 hours to the small ski resort of Matroosberg. On the Eastern Cape, be prepared for more driving, because the ski resort of Tiffindell is 6hrs from the coast. If you’re going to travel that far, why not cross a border and visit Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho, which is just a little bit further. It’s a tiny resort but it might be worth the passport stamp, and you could say that you completed the Twofer in a landlocked nation.

If your wish is to surf and see snow on the same day, you could do it in Taiwan. Taiwan catches snow in Taroko Gorge, Hehuanshan, Yushan and Xueshan, and most of these mountains are reachable by road and /or hiking. At some of them, you can sit in a hot spring instead of skiing. Is this also possible in Japan, Norway, Sweden or Iceland?

If you’re lucky enough to experience this double, it’s up to you where to go. It’s also up to you whether you ski or snowboard, or whether you ride a surf board, a body board or a SUP. You could don some skins and ski the back country if time permits, or spend hours showing off at the park with your selfie stick.

I don’t really think you qualify for a Twofer if you ride a goat boat through the waves before sliding down the snow on a toboggan. Personally, I also think it doesn’t count if you surf at a man-made wave pool, even if Kelly personally invites you, or ski at an indoor man-made slope.

To get back to the roots of surfing, grab some fins and enjoy body surfing – pure surfing.

If anyone has achieved this double, or knows of another place in the world where it is possible to surf and ski on the same day, let us know. Maybe one day in the future we will all be able to travel again and fill our days with surf and snow.

Images: Anton Repponen, Alex Lange