As far as I know Uruguay has dominated international news only one time. In 1972 a new Uruguayan Fairchild 227 plane carrying an entire rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains. The 32 survivors resorted to cannibalism. A book about this called Alive was a best-seller. The movie made from this book was filmed in the Canadian Rockies, not in South America where the crash occurred. The story of what happened to the survivors is well-told in a relatively new museum in Montevideo. Its director Jörg Thomsen loves to talk to visitors.
The plane with 45 people aboard lost its wings, slid down a mountain, and came to rest in the snow at 14,764 feet. The team, average age 19, was on its way to a friendly match in Santiago, Chile.
Many miracles unfold in this tale. The search for the plane was abandoned after only 8 days. The survivors were able to use debris to deal with the cold. They had a working transistor radio and one gun. On the eve of Day 17 of their ordeal an avalanche killed 8 more. Finally, 2 of the team members hiked for 10 days without proper clothing and found a cattle tender. Roberto Canessa said to him, “I come from a plane that fell in the mountains. I am Uruguayan…” One of the most compelling stories of human survival ended with the rescue of 16 young men; 15 of them are still alive. This museum at 619 Rincón Street in Montevideo honors those who endured 72 days of misery.
By coincidence, The number 13 figures prominently in this story that is told in several languages. A fine introductory film down some stairs in this museum has English subtitles. If he’s available, Thomsen enthusiastically answers all questions. I learned in this worthwhile museum that fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia.