Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The long haul to Punta Arenas is done..... Patagonia gets my pulse racing again!

All the photos were taken from the window of the plane flying down to Punta Arenas

A nice break from the full on focus of 'The Expedition':

It took more than 30 hours to get from Cape Town to Punta Arenas, but the final strait from Santiago to ‘Sandy Point’ (the English translation for Punta Arenas) provided breathtaking vistas of one of the worlds special wilderness areas, Patagonia. All my fatigue and boredom from so many airports and hours in the air was suddenly forgotten and the passion of adventure became alive within me as I looked down and saw the places I had cycled through in 2006.

This struck a chord with what lies ahead in Antarctica, and I felt this huge flow of adrenalin startup within, a mixture of fear and excitement that is hard to fully understand, but one that I know tells me: “I’m really living, man!” I just love this, but there is a huge challenge ahead, and I’m not under estimating that!

Punta Arenas is this strange mix of real character and soul-less suburbia. For me it's very special walking around the centre of the city and coming across names of places that have so much rich adventure meaning and history to me....

There is the Cabo de Hornos Hotel... Cape Horn Hotel, the notorius cape, a place I still one day want to sail around on my own! Then there is Patagonia Calle (street), Hernanado Magellan avenenue, Shackleton Bar, Hotel Terra del Fuego, Chiloe Calle, and many more..... Interestingly the Chileans (as do most spanish speakers), pronounce the two 'll's' of Magellan as 'j''s so the strangely for us english spaeakers, we hear the Chileans talking about 'Magejaanie' for Magellan..... I wonder what the Portugese (from whenst Maggelan came) would say?

This place is full of maritime history and somehow lying at the tip of South America, right on the Straits of Magellan, has this huge fascination for me. The sea water is 3-4 degrees centigrade, and although its approaching mid summer the ambient temperature is surprisingly cool, and there are still traces of snow on the surrounding mountains. Terra del Fuego is directly visible across the Straits, and its higher mountains have lots more snow.

Sitting now at 53 degree south, I feel like I have flown very far south, in fact this is the furtherest south I have ever been, but still I am almost 40 degrees away from the South Pole, and about 30 degrees from my ski-ing start point. When I think through that, I realise just how far I still have to go, and and how remote I really will be. The sun now sets at around 9pm here, and rises at around 5am, but right down south it's already 24 hour daylight. My mind then moves to what this, 'distance still to travel south' will mean for temperatures....Hmmm, this distance south translates into a lot of heat loss, and it really becomes clear how cold and isolated this Antarctica and the South Pole is going to be! I even start shivering at the thought.... But my sense of adventure into this new unknown, kindles a fire within that warms me up to deal with what lies ahead.

The 'Sandy Point' has some real colour too....:

After having a warm welcome from Richard Weber, who had arrived the day earlier, I was soon settled in my appartment and deaing with the realities of tracking down my expedition gear which was delayed arriving by freight from Cape Town. From here the task list was attacked with full focus and vigor, and I'm expecting Ruth to arrive from London tomorrow night.

Back to the preparation.....

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