Basic Plot

Miracle in the Andes is a heartbreaking story of surviving in the most difficult situations people can think of. Nando Parrado tells this story from a first hand experience and gives an insight to a situation few people might understand. But what happened?

Nando begins his story by letting people have an insight in his own life. He talks about his childhood, his family and his teammates on the rugby team he was traveling with when the accident happened.
They were flying from Uruguay to Chile where they were going to compete in rugby, on the flight there were other passengers, including Nando's mother and sister, when the plain hit a turbulence and the plane crashed in the middle of the Andes mountain range.

For detailed information on the people on the flight and the crash you can visit the "Andes accident official web site"

From here on out he retails a story that many debates have sprung from, where he describes how the survivors of the crash try to survive by any means necessary. Which shows how dark the human nature can be in order to survive. Many people can never understand what they went through but still say that what they did is wrong and goes against every religious believe that is practiced today (except maybe some remote tribes in Africa). But their will to survive and be rescued helped them make the decision to go against their inner ethics and go with their savage survival instinct.

Main Themes


 Main Themes



The main theme of the book isprobably persistence and the will to survive. The way that Nando and the othersrefuse to give up despite of loosing their friends and family members. The waythey figure out clever ways of surviving in that hostile environment. They atethe flesh of the dead people in order to survive and they risk their lives manytimes to try and find the tail of the plain to get the batteries from it sothey could start the radio up and call for help.

  I guess you can say hope is a part of the willto survive. Some may have lost the hope but not all of them. Even after seeingplane after plane flying over searching for them but they never saw them. Then theyfound out that the search for them had been stopped because there was no waythat they could be alive.  Nando neverlooses his hope of getting out of those mountains and seeing his remainingfamily members. He is the one that wanted to just try to walk out of themountains and find help that way. He also said ‘’if I die I will die walking’’.Even when his mother and sister had passed he never gave in. Nando realized thatthey would have to eat the dead to get strong enough to climb their way out. Theywalked for ten whole days until they were found be a shepherd that made aemergency response unit aware and they came and saved them.



Another important theme isnature, or rather the threat nature is in these situations. The group facedextremely cold temperatures and they only had summer clothing. In addition tothe cold they had to deal with the thin air of the altitude they were in. Theyhad blizzards and an snow avalanche that took eight of their lives. Another thingthat made their lives harder on the mountain was that some of them were hurtbadly from the crash and couldn’t walk and therefor couldn’t help out.



The last theme is team spiritand leadership. The group would probably not have survived if it had not beenfor the team work and Nandos leadership. They group worked together in treatingthe hurt and they of course kept each other warm in the night. 

Character Description


There were 45 onboard on that plain, only 16 made it back. Their memory will be remembered in the hearts of the nation and people all over the world.

Here are few who stood out of the group.



Fernando Parrado (Nando) was born in December 9 1949 in Montevideo. His parents were Seler and Eugenia Parrado, he has two sisters, Susana and Graciela. He is the middle child. Nando as he is called graduated from Stella Maria college ( Montevideo) and played in a rugby team -Old christian club. he went to a business school after his father convinced him to do so. Nando had really no intrist at working at his dad hardwires store but he wanted to play out in the field, ruby , even had his eyes on racing car. Nando was 23 years old when the plain crashed, and that what kept him alive for 72 days was his strength to survive, hope and love for his father. he was athletic when they "landed" but nothing but skin and bones when he got rescued.  




Roberto Jorge Canessa Urta  born in January 17, 1953 Montevideo as Nando he graduated from Stella Maria college and played with the rugby team Old Christian club. Roberto was a 19 year old medical student when the plain crashed. He had a fiancee and mother that never left his mind while he was climbing these montais home. Nando discribes him as serious character, strong willed and intense. In 1994 Robert was candidate for president of Uruguay but only got 0.08% of the votes.







Carlos "Carlitos"PáezRodríguez born in October 31 in 1953. He was called "the man with the iron spirit" He used to get them to pray with him in evening and night. Always believed that God was among them and looking out for them.







Marcelo Pérez Graduated from Stella Maria with the Old Christian rugby team, he was the captain. He took control in the Andes gave orders and kept the hope among the lads. Even though he survived the crash, unfortunately he did not in the avalanche two week later. He was 25 years old when he died.







Francisco "Panchito" Abal was 21 years old when they crasht that plain. He was Nando's best friend and closed to be his brothers. He graduated from Stella Maria, and played in the rugby team among the others and was considered one of Uruguay's finest rugby players, he worked with his family's tobacco business and chased girls with Nando in his free time.








Rafael Echavarren was 22 when the plain crashed, he was an agriculture student and a Montevideo rugby player who had many friends on the Old Christians team. Rafael had great wounds and after a month or os he succumbed to them and he was the only one who's body was removed from the Andes for a bural.

The Aftermath


"As we descended the mountain, the grandeur of the Andes thundered all around us - so silent, so massive, so perfect - and neither of us could imagine a more majestic shrine."









What did they feel after they we´re saved?

They did not feel guilty and they didn´t want any psychological help, they had each other and that was enough for them. People have often asked Nando if he had nightmares, survivors guilt or any flashbacks? But he didn´t experience any of that, he didn´t feel guilty and he didn´t regret anything he did on that mountain, those were the things that kept him alive.

Nando learned a lot about death and how close it can be. So he decided to live his life to the fullest and be happy, without resentment or regret. Another thing that Nando learned when he came so close to death, was that love is the opposite of death. Love is all around you and it was love that kept him safe and love for his father that made him keep going. 

Nando says he is grateful, because he learned that without love you have nothing. You can have all the wordly posessions you have ever dreamed of, but without someone to share them with and without love in your heart and love from your family, they mean nothing. He also learned to cherish the little moments every day, his wife´s embrace, the company of an old friend and the sun on his face. By doing that every day he fills himself with life and defy´s the shadow of death.


Faith and God










There were a lot of people on the plane that believed in God and that kept their faith the entire time they spent on the mountain. Nando was not one of them, he felt something larger than him on that mountain that made him feel safe and like everything was going to be alright. But it was not a spirit, it was not something that would save them or abandon them. It was just silence, a wholeness that reached him from his feelings of love. Nando has said that he does not fully understand God, because he does not want to. He does not want to understand a God that chooses one religion above the other or a God that sends sixteen young men home but leaves twenty-nine others dead on a mountain top. He has realised that it´s not possible to fully understand God and he has lost his need to.

Nando still prays, he says Hail Mary´s but he doesn´t imagine a big, bearded man watching over him while he does so. Instead he imagines love all around him, he opens himself to love and tries to direct that ocean of love towards the people he loves. 

Nando just wants to live as much as he can and fill his life with love. He wants to become a little more human every day and he understands that we only do that if we love. 


What about the remains of those who died ?

Just after they were rescued, air force members from Chile and Uruguay built a grave to remember the ones that had died. The grave sits on a rocky promontory jutting above the snow. Beneath the rocks lie Nando´s sister Susy and his mother, along with others that died on the mountain. The shrine is simple, it´s just a pile of stones and then a small steel cross rising above the grave.










Two years after Nando and the others were saved, he went with his father to visit the grave site. They brought flowers and Nando´s father brought a steel box with Susy´s teddy bear inside. A route had been discovered, but it was only passable in summer. It lead from Argentine foothills to the glacier where the Farichild had crashed. The trip there takes three days, it begins with an eight-hour drive in off-road vehicles across the rugged terrain of the Andean foothills, then two and a half days are spent on horseback until the base of the glacier is reached. The final climb is made on foot.


What happened afterwards?









Ever since the group of people got saved, they have celebrated the 22nd of December as their birthday. That is the day they were saved and that is the day that changed their lives forever. They all celebrate it together with their families as the day they were reborn.

They all realized on that day that their way of thinking had changed forever, they had a new appreciation for life and the human strength. They also had a new understanding of how incredible it was for them to be alive and how lucky they were to have learned to truly appreciate life and savour all the little things. That was the gift the Andes gave them.

Still to this day, Nando thinks of all the men that were on the mountain with him as brothers, even though it has been three decades since the accident. His closest friend has been Roberto Canessa, who today is one if the most respected paediatric cardiologists in Urugay. Roberto is still as stubborn as ever and he never gives up, especially not when it comes to helping his young patients. 

Three years after the accident, Roberto married Laura Surraco, the girl he had missed so much when he was stuck on that mountain. They are very good together because there is a strong possibility that she is the only woman in Urugay that can stand up to his stubbornness. Together they have two sons and one daughter. Nando is a godfather to Roberto´s son Hilario, who is a player for the Old Christians. Roberto is now president of the Old Christian´s club, he loves his position and believes that no one could do a better job than him.

Nando and Gustabo Zerbino also became close friends after the accident. Today Gustavo runs a large chemical company, he is active in several community organisations, he serves as the president of the Chemical Association and he is also the vice-president of the Olds Christians Rugby Club. Gustavo is divorced and has four sons from his first marriage. 

Carlitozs Paes is another of Nando´s close friends. He has faced many challanges in his life since the accident, his first marriage ended after only two years and he has been single ever since. He also became addicted to alcohol and drugs, so he lost his way for a while. But Nando and other friends sent him to rehab and helped him recover, he has been happily sober since then and today he counsels people who are battling with addiction. Carlitos works as an executive at a public relations firm in Montevideo. Carlitos´ world revolves around his granddaughter, Justine. He adores her and loves spending time with her. Carlitos has survived many hardships but he still holds on to his happy self, he loves and is loved and that is what keeps him going. 

Alvaro Mangino was one of the youngest boys involved in the crash. He has been married to his wife, Margarita, for many years and together they have raised four children. Today he works for a heating and air-conditioning company in Montevideo and he also serves on the board of the Old Christians. 

Coche Inciarte is another of Nando´s closest friends, him and Alvaro are very close as well. Coche married his childhood sweetheart, Soledad. They have three children together. Coche is a dairy farmer and for many years he was one of the largest producers od dairy products in Urugay. He then sold his holdings and retired, so he could focus on his family and his true passion, painting. 

Eduardo Strauch was a very important figure on the mountain. Today he is the same, cool, collected and a man of few words, yet always worth listening to. Eduardo has five children with his wife, Laura. He is a successful architect in Montevideo who has built many fine homes, including Nando´s first house. Daniel Fernandez, Eduardo´s cousin, still has his good sense of humour and smart wit. Daniel runs a successful computer and technology firm in Montevideo. He has three kids with his wife, Amalia. 

Pedro Algorta lives in Argentina, where he is the general manager of a large brewery and beverage manufacturer. He has two daughters and son with his wife, Noel. Bobby Francois is a rancher who lives his life the same way he lived on the mountain, without any drama. He spends his day´s riding and tending to the herds. He has five children with his wife, Graciana.

Javier Methol lost a family member on the mountain (just like Nando), he struggled to recover after his wife died. But he found straingth in his faith and in his four children. After four years Javier met his second wife, Ana Maria, they now have four more children. For many years he was an executive at a large tobacco company, but now he is retired. 

Antonio Vizintin has faced many hardships in his life as well. His first marriage ended in divorce, and his second wife died a tragic death. He is now married for the third time, he has two children, a daughter and a son, both from his second marriage. He has been very successful in his work as an importer of chemicals and other supplies  for the plastics industry.

Roy Harley was one of the youngest boys on the mountain and he was never shy about showing his emotions. Today he is a successful engineer and he works for a large manufacturer of paint. He lives in Montevideo with his wife, Cecilia (The sister of Roberto´s wife, Laura), two daughters and a son who plays for the Old Christians. 

Alfredo ´Pancho´ Delgado is a prominent lawyer who lives in Carrasco. He is married to his life-long sweetheart, Susana and they have two sons and two daughters together. His oldest son, Alfredo, is the captain of the Old Christians First XV. 

Ramon ´Moncho´Sabella, has never married. He is the bachelor of the group, and he says he is having too much fun to settle down. He works in real estated development with Fito Strauch. Fito lives in the countryside, where he owns a cattle ranch. He has four children with his wife, Paula. 

Sergio Catalan was one of the first people that spotted Nando and the others after their trek through the mountains. Today, he is a part of the survivors´ family. Sergio and his wife have raised nine children and even though he is not wealty, he has managed to send most of them to college. 






















Nando, "Alive" and "Miracle in the Andes"










Nando never really wanted to talk about all the things that had happened on the mountain, he did not like sharing too much with people or journalists that wanted to know more than they had heard on the news. He thought everything had been covered in "Alive", although the readers would never fully understand what had gone through his head or what he had thought of all those horrifying moments, he did not feel the need to share those things with the public.

Nando had been aprroched by many publishers and agents over the years, that wanted him to retell the story, he always refused. To him they were making him out to be this big hero that had saved the day and he did not feel like a hero, he knew he had been scared the whole time and he had only done what he needed to do to survive. He didn´t think the disaster was something to be celebrated because to him it was only a reminder of hardship and loss. Nando didn´t want to live his life as a survivor, he did not want the accident to define his life. Then why, after 30 years did he decide to write "Miracle in The Andes"? 

It all started in 1991, when a man named Juan Cintron tracked Nando down because he thought his story would make a great motivational speech. Nando refused but Juan refused to give up and continued calling Nando, who kept refusing. Nando finally agreed to do it, after Juan had flown to Montevideo to plead with him face-to-face. Nando spent weeks working on his speech, trying to make it appealing and exciting enough so that the audience would want to listen to it. They day finally came, but as Nando was about to deliver his speech, he frose. His speech made no sense to him, so he decided to tell the truth and so he told the audience his entire story.

Nando spoke for more than ninety minutes, afterwards the hall was completely silent. Then the audience stood up and applauded loudly. Strangers cried and embraced Nando, others took him aside and told him their stories of hardship. After Nando´s success in Mexico, he was asked to give speeches all over the world. Today Nando addresses audiences all over the world and every time he speaks he does the same thing he did the first time he spoke, he just tells his story. After one of Nando´s speeches a woman came up to him and told him her story of grief and loss, aftewards Nando was so touched and at that moment he realised that his story was not unique. Many people had suffered, just in different ways and by telling his story maybe he could help thousands of people to get over their grief and move on with their lives. After ten years of public speaking, Nando had heard so many stories that had touched him so deeply that he knew he wanted to share his story with as many people as possible, that is why he decided to write "Miracle in The Andes". 

I want to finish with a quote from the chapter; "Savour your existence. Live every moment. Do not waste a breath." :)










-Lára Eygló Helgadóttir 



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