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Our final day of team building which involved a walk up the mountains and some final preparations. We were getting closer to leaving for Antarctica.

Friday 19th January 2001

Up at the usual time (7:12am was when my alarm was set). Had breakfast, ready and off to the mini-bus to Las Hayas. It was the first morning that we had everyone on board the bus!

We picked up Siaron, Tom and Alastair and we drove to the bottom of the chairlift.

Then we began our hike up the mountain. We all began well, taking photos and wondering at the great view unfolding before us as we got higher and higher. We could see the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia and the other snow capped mountains of Southern Patagonia.

We ascended past the top of the chair lift and then walked along a lovely track for a bit beside a bubbling stream full of clear, fresh mountain water. Drank some of the water and it was beautiful and clean and clear. Mmm. I was a bit surprised that some e.g. Marcus wouldn’t drink the water for fear that the bacteria might cause stomach problems.

Anyway, the further we got, the slower we got and the more people we left behind.

I raced higher and higher with Alastair + Hilda and the views were breathtaking. In fact words don’t fully describe the views!

Siaron and Tom joined us and they were the only ones, we then decided to race up to the point where we were aiming to get everyone to.

We raced up there – very scenic. Amongst the snow and there were rivulets of water cascading over the bare rock, from melted snow!

I think it was the first time I’d seen snow in a long time!!

Anyway, then went back down. Threw a bit of snow between Alastair and myself, we pretended it was a rugby ball. We’d been ribbing each other all week about rugby! That didn’t last long – for it was very cold.

Then walked down. It was a pleasant walk down as well. Chatted to various people on the way down.

Andres developed big blisters on his boots and he was very sore – he caught the chairlift down, so did many others.

I walked and loved it!

We then all gathered together and had a bunch of team photos all wearing our jackets in front of spectacular scenery!

Then we walked down to Las Hayas. Most went via the road – Alastair and I went down a couple of ‘husky trails’ and over bogs and through the forest. It was a most delightful walk, although we didn’t stroll, there were parts where we were full on running!

Got to Las Hayas fine and in for lunch.

Lunch was hilarious – we had Marcus going all the time. Damien was particularly bad, we convinced Marcus that they had peat gum (tasting like coal) in Ireland. Also we convinced him (for a while) that they got Guinness from a Guinness Plant!!! (they grow Guinness!!)

We had a very funny lunch and we all enjoyed it a lot. The food again was excellent (I think I had lunch with Alastair, Hilda, Damien, Marcus, Andres and Brenda (??))

After lunch, had a briefing with Mike the Mechanic from the 2041. It went well, we were all quite concerned about lack of space and the equipment we would need. Mike was good, but also very relaxed about the thing.

We also had a bit of time with Siaron and then a review with Tom.

Then our ‘formal’ part was over. We had a bit of time to get the final bits and pieces for our kit. I realised I had left my Visa card in the hotel, so I went to the Hotel Los Nires via town.

Caught the taxi with Marcus and Damien – an entertaining trip. Damien calls Marcus – ‘Yank’. The previous night Andres, Jane, Marcus, Pip had dinner at Los Nires. They ordered their steaks and they arrived, except Andres, who ordered a different steak and got a huge steak. Marcus told Andres to say what you said to get that and Andres said it and Marcus recorded it on his little handheld audio recorder. Marcus’ plan was to go into the restaurant and say, ‘I’d like this and play his audio recording! Funny stuff

Then I got my Visa card and caught the free shuttle into town.

I wandered around and I found Pip and Andres doing the sit rep for the day. Hung out with them for a bit and then we went shopping.

I bought a pair of ski goggles – for $65! A fortune – probably the most expensive pair on the planet.

Then I wandered around with Andres and he told me of the national bird of Colombia, the ‘Condor’. He didn’t like it because the Condor is a lazy bird – a scavenger. So we nicknamed Andres, ‘Condor’.

Met up with Brenda and Hilda and Damien and B + H were incredible. They were going around buying stuff, an unbelievable amount of stuff. I wandered around with them for a while and we even went to the wharf and had a look at the boat, the 2041. Took some photos and then up to the main street.

Found the others in a cafe in San Martin St and had a drink there. Met up with Matt (photographer) + Tom + Alastair + Siaron + Mike (mechanic). We eventually moved up to the restaurant, Rancho Argentino for dinner.

We were practising our Spanish words with Andres. I learned north, south, east + west!

The dinner took a long time in coming, but eventually we had it. A BBQ style thing with a salad bar. It was very expensive ($20) for what we got.

We were all conscious of the fact we ad to pack, so we left as early as possible – which was 11:30pm!!

Had a hilarious taxi trip home: Damien, Hilda, Brenda, Andres and myself got in the same taxi. The taxi driver was Paul and he was 24 – he loved rock music. He asked if Brenda and Hilda were single (+ Damien, Andres and myself – but he was mostly interested in Brenda). He played his music loud and he loved to look at us in the back when he talked.

We got in and then bade the others farewell.

I packed for the yacht, showered, called home and went back to bed. My last night on land for a while [12:50am].

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Our team building continued and I was getting more organised.

Thursday 18th January 2001

I awoke before my alarm and I was pleased to be the first person at breakfast. I began eating and Damien, Pip and Lynn joined me.

The morning was incredible – there had been snow overnight and the view on the mountains was spectacular (the snow was only on the peaks).

It was a crisp and cold morning but with the sun made it pleasant in the sun.

We got organised for the mini-bus and it took us to Las Hayas for our second day of team building and personal leadership etc.

Arrived and things began fairly slowly. We did begin with a meditation and some breathing.

After everyone arrived (Hilda and Brenda came late) we began the big exercise of the morning called ‘Teamwork 2’, ‘The Big Picture’.

What it was we had a jigsaw to complete in 2 hours. We had to earn points by completing various tasks.

The tasks were many and varied ranging from writing songs and limericks to writing communications plans etc for the trip. Initially we began by doing some trivia and facts.

[Oh – earlier at breakfast we were discussing the ‘house clearing’ and a lot of people were very negative about it – I was quite surprised. I found it very helpful to do a good self examination. Also Damien said it was Guinness Day – so we all wore our new Guinness t-shirts that he had given us as a gift. We declared the day, ‘National Guinness Day’]

Jane took charge of co-ordinating the project to ensure that all of the tasks were completed. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t have more of a go with the brain teasers. I got a couple right.

We shot a video – Lynn was excellent at that. We also had to do a project with working out what to say with a problem. Damien, Marcus and I worked on that.

The project was excellent fun, many fun and varied tasks. We wrote up our skills on the matrix and we also had a go at limericks. We had to make up 3 limericks about team members. So here they are:-

There once was a girl named Pip

Who carried her hit on her hip

A local pinched her backside

She took him outside

And now he has a fat lip!

 

There once was a girl named Jane.

Who arrived in Ushuaia by plane

She tried to make friends

But she always offends

For ‘Vindictive’ was her new name*

.* – Vindictive – she came back from her interview with Alastair and said, ‘I’m vindictive’ – we called her vindictive a couple of times – very funny!

 

There once once was a Yank from South Bend

Whose talking never did end

He always kept time

And his watch, oh it did chime

And Marcus, this is something to mend*

.* Marcus’ watch wouldn’t stop going off yesterday – funny one.

I thought the limericks were all very good! Damien, Marcus and myself wrote them.

Then Damien, Hilda and myself did another ‘problem employee’. We decided 2 options – either a counselling session with Alastair or throw the problem employee off a bridge! (innovative!).

Then Damien, Hilda and I wrote an Ode to our team. There were lots of silly rhymes in it, rhyming truth with smooth, Vermooth etc. People liked it when we read it out.

Then we all made hats, I kind of did a French Legionnaires hat, Marcus – a pirate hat etc.

Then we did the RSA team song – it really was quite poor, no real tune or rhythm, but we kind of sang it.

Then we had completed all our tasks and the jigsaw.

We reviewed and went through various things – it had been fun and we had achieved a lot.

After that we did another exercise with Alastair – identifying our qualities and abilities, what we are. We had to write them on cards.

We then had to place a quality and an ability next to each other and say, that is what we are. I ended up being a ‘Diplomatic leader’.

Then it was lunch time and I was very much looking forward to that. Very hungry.

Had a very pleasant lunch with Damien, Marcus, Siaron and Alastair. We chatted and told jokes. Marcus mentioned something about eating Captain Crunch, I asked who he was. We then made jokes of kids gnawing away on bits of this poor guy, ‘Captain Crunch’. Marcus made a note to send me some.

Lunch was very funny and I was feeling more like myself – cracking really bad jokes (I think the limericks helped!)

After lunch went for a quick walk up the hill. Then back and more exercises.

We did systemisation and also a bit more on planning. We did another seminar on our ‘code of conduct’. We had to come up with a sentence that we wanted to capture how we wanted to behave on the boat. I wrote ‘I will love my neighbour as myself’. In the end, after a bit of debate, we had, ‘Be strong, be safe, treat others like yourself’. I’m glad I got the Bible in there.

In the afternoon sometime we had a quick break and I wandered up the hill for 10 minutes. The Beagle Channel and Ushuaia is a beautiful place. The rugged mountains and snakes and pods of snow on the peaks are a stark contrast to the dark and jagged lines of the mountains (the tallest mountain near us is about 1400m tall!)

Then back for more team building etc, more with cards. We wrote out our accomplishments and haves ie things we have. We also wrote our wants.

We had to sit and put these together and eventually group them, but Andres and I got talking about football and World Cup. He was saying that there was a chance that Australia would play Colombia to go to the 2002 World Cup.

We also did get some of our activity done.

We had various other meetings and discussions with Siaron as Alastair did more interviews (much shorter this time).

We watched a bit of video footage and hung around. Time kept going on and on and people sort of went in and out.

It had been a really hard 2 days – I’ve been to MYC’s and conferences etc, but at least we get free time in the afternoon.

Anyway people were going down to Ushuaia for dinner and people gradually left.

I had my interview with Alastair near the end, so I waited for that (it was after 7pm).

The interview went quite well – it was more about finding goals and what I wanted in life etc. I want to be well educated – this is my goal! We discussed things like qualities and abilities and also the limitations. It was fairly short but ok.

Alistair is a funny guy, we’ve made a lot of fun together, mainly joking about rugby etc. He is a ‘spiritual’ kind of guy as well. He believes in God, but I’m not sure if he believes in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. He reads, understands and knows the Bible quite well. I’m not sure where he is. Certainly very charismatic and experiential, but nonetheless I’ve found him an encouragement.

After the interview I went for dinner and joined those who had remained behind. I joined Brenda, Hilda, Siaron, Tom, Lynn and Alastair (later – when he finished interviewing Hilda).

Had a great time at dinner – lots of jokes and lots of fun. They were talking about getting teeth out etc I decided to talk more about cuddly bears and kittens etc.

Also talked sport with Alastair – it was a fun night.

Eventually had to keep going, went back to our hotel. Los Nires with Lynn, Brenda, Hilda we talked about the various ways Mission Antarctica has been handled in our respective regions. Apparently Canada have everything paid for – ie clothes and everything. I’ve had nothing paid for. There have been some ways this thing could have been handled better – but it is great to be here.

So the 2 days of team building and personal development are over. I feel it has been a real success, we’re much more of a team now than at the beginning of yesterday.

Now I’m tired – a shower and bed!

After arriving in Ushuaia, we began a couple of days of team building. It didn’t start so well for me…

Wednesday 17th January 2001

I was woken by the phone ringing – it was Jane and it was 8am and they were going! I had failed to put my alarm on and slept in.

I felt like a fool, I raced out and had some brekky. I got myself ready and got a taxi to Las Hayas – some gorgeous resort kind of hotel place on the hill above Ushuaia.

The view from the resort was amazing – looking out over the Beagle Channel – quite stunning. I’m still having to pinch myself to believe I’m here.

I arrived late, just as the others were finishing their meditations.

I joined and Alistair le d us in a time of individual goal setting etc. Well, it’s a program called Spirit B200. We were all given keys to hotel rooms and told to go and work out harms done to others, our resentments and our fears. It was a sort of confessional thing. It was quite helpful.

I wrote out all of mine and we had a break and I continued. It made me think a bit.

Anyway, then it was 12pm and time for lunch.

Went down to lunch and ate with the team. I saw next to Siaron and also Tom. Mat (the 2041 photographer) joined us for a while.

I think the team is gradually finding its way conversation is still a little forced and I don’t feel totally comfortable with all the new people.

Anyway, after lunch we went outside for a practical team exercise. We had two groups on either side of a divide and we had to get both groups onto the opposite side, stepping only on tyres.

It was a good experience and our team did well we got everyone across with varying degrees of comfort. We only had 20 seconds or so to spare when the final team member (Jane) came across.

We were all pretty pleased with our success and the final analysis was helpful.

Then we did an individual exercise to determine our relative strengths + weaknesses in various areas. You had to read and answer a whole bunch of questions -a type of personality test.

In the end I found out that I had a tendency to be an innovator and a deliberator. Someone who generates a lot of ideas, but thinks them through (quite rare apparently).

When we went out and did another exercise again involving tyres. We had to get everyone from one side to an island in the middle.

It was very interesting, we had several ideas and we sort of cheated. We put our boots inside the tyres and jumped across in the order specified. It was an innovative way of doing it.

However halfway through doing it we realised not all could do this and we found ourselves out of order – the yellow tyre had to move next but it was on the wrong side. So we decided to try and throw the tyre across to the others.

Marcus went first and it only went half-way! We all looked helplessly on as we thought we couldn’t reach it at all. Anyway, we then tried throwing it across and rolling it across (Andres rolled it down the hill) all unsuccessfully.

Then I put it in my boots again and shuffled across.

By this time Marcus was known as the time keeper (always keeping track of time and a cheater – mainly from Brenda who accused him of putting his feet on the ground when he jumped across!).

So we were running out of time and then Lynn and Hilda went across and it was hilarious – it looked something from Twister. Then we ran out of time!

In a debrief – disaster. We learned a lot about team building etc from that exercise.

The afternoon continued and Tom talked at us some more – then we had our final outside activity.

We had to pass marbles along a track with blindfolded people carrying them. It went very well, we managed to get 40 marbles across no problems. Our group, Pip, Jane and Damien were excellent as they carried the marbles blindfolded.

Back and talked about that – more successful.

Then it was 7pm and dinner time – the day had gone fast.

Dinner was delicious, I had a good chat with Marcus and Lynn, they telling me about the USA. I was feeling more a part of the team now and happier to mix with the people.

I finished up my dessert and ran up to do my individual interview with Alastair. This involved going through the hurts, resentments and fears I had written in the morning.

It was enormously helpful at understanding the extent of sin in my life. Excellent at a personal evaluation, examination. I realised I’m a people pleaser (no necessarily a God pleaser) selfish, inconsiderate and proud (especially the spiritual nature).

Alistair was an excellent facilitator and very affirming.

Then I went down and watched the end of the video Siaron took of today’s team building – they were hilarious!

Then the mini-bus back to Los Nires.

I rang Mum + Dad and chatted to them – now a shower and off to bed.

My time in Buenos Aires was coming to an end and I was about to fly to Ushuaia at the bottom of South America. However I did have the awkward situation of not being sure how to pay for my hotel. I was there on company business without any means of paying for a 5 star hotel and I didn’t have enough personal money to pay for the hotel. It was slightly awkward and a bit embarrassing.

Tuesday 16th January 2001

I had a poor sleep – I had a message that Jim Hughes rang at 3:30am and would ring again at 6:30am. He rang and said that the bill would be taken care of by RSA Argentina.

I got another call from James (RSA Argentina) to say it would all be ok. I then lay in bed waiting for my breakfast to arrive – but then I realised that it wasn’t going to arrive for I had forgotten to put the request thingy on the door handle.

I went down and had something from the buffet at 10:30am.

Then I went off again exploring Buenos Aires. I went toward the Puerto Madero this time I had a quick poke around there and then back to the hotel for the last time. I got my stuff together and tried to check out – but something had broken down along the way.

I called James at RSA Argentina and he organised it. The bill came to some $500 which translates to roughly AD$1,000. I got a car from the hotel – a guy called Nestor drove me to the airport (domestic).

It was a great sight by the mighty (yet very brown) Rio Plate (River Plate). He dropped me off, I bade him farewell.

I checked my luggage in and then went for a wander by the river. It was wide – I couldn’t see the other side (I think Brazil or Uruguay is on the other side). I took a couple of photos as I watched the fishermen ply their trade.

Then back to the airport. It was awkward as everyone spoke Spanish and I ‘no hablo espanyol’.

I got a sandwich and then our flight was called. Got a bus to the plane.

Got on the plane and I was making myself comfortable when an Irish voice said, ‘Robert?’ It was Damien Vizzard from the expedition. He was with Pip and Jane from the UK.

They came up and said hello – then the plane took off. I was in business class and they were in economy (we must have better agents or more generous MD’s in Australia!)

The trip was great – we flew over Buenos Aires – a great exit.

Buenos Aires is a nice city, it doesn’t have the glorious natural beauty of Sydney or much historical value before 1800 (like London). But it is a quite pleasant city. I enjoyed my time In Buenos Aires.

The trip to Ushuaia was ok. I had a nice lunch (another steak! they love their steak in Argentina!). Haven’t seen rice in days.

The flight was fine – lots of farmland and then a sort of desert! We hugged the coast most  of the way. It was only when we were 15 minutes out of Ushuaia that the scenery changed dramatically. Flat brown land was replaced with higher peaks with snow on top! A magnificent contrast.

The descent into Ushuaia was spectacular, water, trees, snow and craggy peaks.

We landed safely and then I met up with the others and collected our luggage.

Went out and met Siaron Glandrid-Jones, Tom Bufton and Alistair someone. It was amazing to finally see these people.

Ushuaia was nippy, quite cold, I had a jumper on.

We caught a taxi to our hotel – an amazing place, Hotel Los Nires. We checked in, the other delegates were around, but I was feeling a bit shattered. I’m still a bit jet-lagged I think.

The view from my hotel room is just something else – craggy snowy peaks with wisps of cloud draped over them. It is like a dream. It is also 7:15pm and the sun is so high in the sky. I wonder if it will ever set??

I went out and met the two Americans Lynn and Marcus and also the Colombian Andres.

Then we all caught taxis to downtown Ushuaia. There we met up with Siaron, Alistair and Tom. Then in to the restaurant.

It was the first time that the team had been assembled. We sat down inside the restaurant and then the two Canadians joined us – Brenda and Hilda.

The whole team had now assembled – myself, Andres, Lynn, Pip, Jane, Brenda, Hilda, Marcus and Damien. Tom, Siaron and Alistair were also there and completed the company.

Dinner was quite pleasant – I had some meat off the bit BBQ thing that they had. It was a fire and the meat was cooking on it – it looked very much like a sheep!

It was an all-you-can-eat place ($10.50 – $21 Aust – expensive!) so I piled up the salad and grabbed some stuff from another bad. But I wasn’t all that hungry as I’d had a late brekky + sandwich at airport and then another meal on the plane.

Chatted to the people around me – Alastair – a funny one, from South Africa originally – loves rugby. I ribbed him about sport and the fact that Australia has recently won everything. He tried to say that Australia recently lost to England in a rugby test. I said two words to him, ‘Herschelle Gibbs’ Also talked with Andres from Colombia. He told us about life there and the fact that everyone called him Andreas! Lynn was the documentary maker, she went around filming everyone and everything. Had a nice chat to Pip as well – she was on Sky News last week and she said she was incredibly nervous.

I didn’t get much of a chance to chat to the others down the other end.

After dinner we walked down the main street of Ushuaia to a bar. I was feeling very tired and really just wanted to go to bed. But went to a bar. Others drank but I didn’t. Had a good talk with Siaron.

Also met someone from Mission Antarctica.

Eventually at around 11pm we got taxis home. It was late dusk at this time. It didn’t start getting dark until around 10:30-11pm!! The day is incredibly long here as we are so far south.

Anyway, got a taxi to the hotel with Lynn and in and had a shower and bed, 11:50pm – far too late!

After arriving in South America. I had a couple of days in Buenos Aries before my connecting flight to Ushuaia. So I had some time to meet my Royal & SunAlliance colleagues and get acquainted to South America.

Monday 15th January 2001

I was woken up at 9:00am by the knock on my door, it was my breakfast. I had ordered a lot of food for breakfast and I gobbled it up. I probably over-ordered, the serves were quite large.

After eating breakfast and getting myself ready I called Jason Storah – from Royal & SunAlliance here in Buenos Aires. He called me back and we arranged to meet for lunch at 1pm.

So I went exploring. I went out a different way to yesterday. I walked along Florida to Plaza Libertador Gral. San Martin. It was a delightful park and from there I could see Tarre de los Ingleses – it looked a bit like Big Ben. I wandered around and had a look at the station – Estacion Retiro – quite an impressive structure.

Then wandered through the park some more and then back down Florida to the hotel. I waited for Jason and at around 1:15pm he arrived.

I went out and met Kent Hendricks and another guy Mike. We caught a taxi in the traffic and went to a restaurant on Peurto Medero. The traffic was a lot worse than yesterday – that was because yesterday was a Sunday afternoon!

Anyway sat down at this restaurant with the others and talked. It was really pleasant – we were there until nearly 4pm. We talked about life in Sydney and Buenos Aires. We talked about Mission Antarctica and also about Royal & SunAlliance. We talked about the markets, politics and economics. It was really good.

The food was pretty good – I certainly ate well. The meat was of of good quality, but they have different cuts in Argentina.

After we finished lunch we got a taxi to the Royal & SunAlliance offices in B.A. I got there and Kent was my guide, he introduced me to a whole bunch of people. I gave out my little koalas to as many people as possible.

The operations in Argentina are small, but profitable! I met people from all over the organisation and I met James – the Personal lines manager. Most people spoke with some English – but there were many in the office with no English at all.

I met the portfolio kind of manager guy, the call centre people – I saw the call centre (certainly much smaller than on levels 3/4 in Chatswood).

I had a good time meeting people and I lost track of time somewhat. Kent was going to take me out to dinner at 10pm!! I bade him farewell and I wandered around the streets of Buenos Aires for a bit.

I walked up to Congreso de la Nacion – a very large and impressive building. It was a really pleasant evening and I walked around the park there.

Then I caught the Subway to ‘Peru’. The Subway was cheap and quite a novelty. Nowhere near the quality of a Tangara – but it moved you around. Manual doors and open windows – a good experience though.

Then I wandered down Florida – it was really buzzing. I soaked up the atmosphere and I watched some of the buskers. A juggler and I saw a ‘free’ Tango show. A couple on the street – they were good. They also had a guy doing Flamenco (?) – a lot of foot stomping anyway!

Then it was 8:30pm and I went back to my hotel room. I’m a bit concerned of how I’m going to pay for this hotel. I tried calling Jim Hughes but I got his voicemail.

I waited around and got a couple of phone calls from Kent. Initially we were going out at 11pm or so – but he called later to call it off. I was a bit relieved – so I had a shower and went to bed. I tried calling Jim Hughes again – left one final message and then off to sleep.

The day had finally arrived. My Mission Antarctica trip began…

Sunday 14th January 2001

I got up at 6:15am and ate breakfast and got ready.

Everything was pretty much ready. I bade Heather farewell and then Mum and Dad and I drove off to the airport. It was hard to believe that Mission Antarctica was finally happening!!

Got to the airport without incident and I bought some locks for my bags and also $150 worth of film.

Then I checked in to Business Class! It was so weird to not have to wait and just go straight through.

So I was checked in on QF115 to Buenos Aires and I was going!!

I hung about slightly nervously with Mum and Dad for a while and then I went through the gates on my way to Argentina and then Antarctica.

I went through customs, got my GST back on my camera and I went to the Qantas Club (being in Business Class – I could do that). That was quite nice, I wondered where everyone else were going and why they were flying. I thought my trip unique!!

My flight QF115 was slightly delayed but eventually all was nearly ready and I boarded. Being in Business Class has many advantages – i.e. not having to wait!

I got into the plane and then found my seat. The seats are so large and comfortable and there is masses of leg room!! I sat down and made myself comfortable. The after a short wait – we were off! I was actually going to Antarctic – it was finally happening.

I’m not sure what to expect and it is a relief to finally be off and not have to worry about buying gear or doing media engagements or work or anything, I’m now off on an adventure – a tremendous adventure.

We hadn’t been flying long when they served us lunch. I was quite disappointed actually – it was small and a lot of it was lettuce. I found out that this was only the entree and I enjoyed a nice pasta for lunch.

We arrived in Auckland and we all had to get out for a crew change and an aircraft clean. I felt really tired, but I had a bit of a wander around the terminal. Auckland looked like a very nice place – we had a good look at the city on our way in. It was a pleasant day.

So had a bit of a look at Auckland and then trooped back onto the plane and off to Beunos Aires. It was great being in Business Class – you get on the plane first!

Anyway, we took off over the Pacific. Saw a bit of New Zealand and then the ocean blue. They served us a very yummy dinner and I watched Chicken Run on my personal little video screen. It was excellent, I could change movies at will!

So at dinner and Chicken Run finished and then I decided to try and get some sleep (also watched ‘The Making of Chicken Run’). Eventually the lights went out and I tried to sleep. There were a couple near me who talked and talked (quite loudly as well). Eventually they stopped and I got some sleep. I think that I did get some sleep, not a great deal and not of great quality.

But eventually the sun came up and it was the same day again – Sunday 14th January – just kept going and going.

We had breakfast as we cruised over the Andes. Quite a magnificent sight as we went over the snow-capped peaks. Spotted many volcanoes (most probably extinct). After the Andes we went over some desert area, it looked quite bare – but we were flying over Argentina. We got closer and closer to Beunos Aires.

Eventually our trip was over and we landed at Buenos Aires airport. We arrived in Argentina (I wasn’t crying).

Went through customs and immigration, collected my bag and I went out and I found a guy holding a sign with ‘Royal Robet Martin’ – I think it was me.

He didn’t speak any English so communication was very difficult. He picked up the car and we drove through Beunos Aires to the hotel.

I would have liked to have made conversation but the fact that my Spanish was severely limited (mainly to the classroom and the house of Pablo!) made it hard.

It was also weird sitting on the right. I found out his name was ‘Juan’ (I think!) He dropped me off at the Claridge Hotel and I bade him farewell.

I checked into the hotel, I was in room 1002. I sat down, sorted some things out and then I decided to go out exploring.

The hotel was very conveniently located – right in the middle of town. So i wandered up to Av. 9 de Julio – the widest avenue in the world! It had some 20 lanes!! I wandered around, saw the Teatro Colon – some significant theatre – it looked like a bit of a dump. Then up to the Obelisco. I wandered down the streets and just tried to get a feel for the place.

Buenos Aires wasn’t very busy (maybe it’s a Sunday afternoon) so it doesn’t have the energy (or maybe soupy air) of Bangkok – but not as clean as Singapore. The weather was similar to home – about 30 degrees.

Anyway, wandered down some more streets and saw various buildings – there are a lof of large buildings in B.A. I also found the President’s house and Plaza de Mayo. Quite a pleasant area. I tried catching a Subway but realised that they don’t take $US (that was all I had). So I decided to wander back to the hotel. I was also hot and tired and would love a swim. I had been out for a bit over 2 hours and seen a fair bit I’d thought.

I came back to the hotel and did some things and went for a lovely swim in the pool. I wasn’t down there for long – but I felt so refreshed after the dip.

I came back to my room and put the Cable TV on. I watched a bit of the soccer – but I was tired. I went down and had something to eat for dinner. It was pretty nice so I decided to go for a bit of a wander.

I wandered up and down Florida and I bought a cloth badge which cost me $4 (pesos) which is nearly $8! Beunos Aires is expensive. Everything looks fairly reasonably priced – but I have to virtually double it to arrive at the amount I spend!

I walked down the mall and there were more people out than at 3pm! I was entertained by several buskers – piano players, harp players, painters and even a puppeteer! (who had a puppet of a guy playing the accordian).

Then back to the hotel and eventually off to bed at around 9:30pm. I slept pretty soundly.

Antarctica Farewell Party

The day after my media stardom and the day before I flew off to Antarctica I held a celebration/farewell party at my parents’ house in Penrith. It was a lot of fun.

Saturday 13th January 2001

Up at around 8am and I got dressed and ready. I ate brekky and then helped around the house doing jobs and getting things ready for the big party that day.

Things were getting organised, organising chairs and drinks and food etc.

Things were pretty much organised at around 10am. The first guests arrived at 10:30am – Peggy and Roy. Then Neil arrived and he and I went out briefly to the Plaza to try and get some film and/or a torch – came back empty handed – but came back to a house full of people.

Dave and Julie Moore had arrived as had Chris, Emily, Tio and Andrew T. Jessica had arrived and others had arrived and others kept coming in. Lawrence Moyle and Dave Jacobs were also there. 

Had a good chat to people and I was really enjoying the party. Others kept arriving (Mr + Mrs + Anthony) and more arrived.

Helen Tang and Sherry McDonald arrived as did Shelley Chan. I got phone calls as well from Poppa, Peter Watson and Grandma. It really was a big thing.

We got the food going and people ate.

St LeCornu arrived and Matthew Yu did as well. I talked and fluttered between people. Damien and Justine came and Rhys came as well. Roger and Leah and Katrina cam. Gaby + Robyn Archer also. The Matthias gang came – Jane Burgess + Jackie, George and Jenny came and Ivan also arrived. We showed my video and my TV interview a couple of times as well. It was really fun to be the ‘media star’.Adam and Karen arrived and Owen Seto also came.

A whole bunch of Penrith people whom I vaguely knew also turned up. Joan and Deborah also arrived.

The house filled up pretty well and when we did ‘speeches’ the house was full.

Dad did a speech on Antarctic quotes and I did a pretty awful impromptu speech. 

I had a great time talking and laughing with people. There were 2 major ‘groups’ of people – Beach Mission and church people – but everyone was mingling and talking.

Rob Wiblen arrived as did Rikki Smith. By about lunchtime or so people began to make a move.

I got chatting with a bunch of people from church – Jackie, Jane, George, Ivan (+ Stu LeCornu). It was very funny. Jackie asked if I had silk thermal underwear, I said, ‘no satin’, then George rubbed his shoulder next to mine and said, ‘O Rob’ – funny stuff.

Neil and Sarah were the last to arrive at 2:50pm, but by then a lot of people had gone. Oh, Jeremy Rawlings also arrived!

I was really pleased with the turn-up of people, it was great to have so many people come out! Oh James Jack also came. Near the end of the day I had a good chat with James + Neil + Sarah.

Anyway at 4pm they all left and so all who were left were Neil + Rikki and my family. 

I was really tired and I had a bit of a lie down and we watched the cricket – W.I. vs Zimbabwe. 

Watched until Zimbabwe had batted their 50 overs and then I started getting my gear organised to be packed. I laid it all out carefully on my bedroom floor and went through everything.

I came upstairs for a bite to eat – ate some tea and then packed.

I tried packing it all in, but I wasn’t very successful.

I rang Connie in the UK to find out how much space I had. Anyway Heather came back and she packed my bag. She was very good, she got rid of a lot of the stuff I didn’t really need and she helped me pack everything in. I had to borrow her Australian Geographic bag but after much angst and difficulty we got it all packed. It all kind of fitted in, but the fleece stuff took up the most space!!

I was really tired and when we finished packing I had a shower and then off to bed – my last night in Australia for a month!