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Posts Tagged ‘Ushuaia’

This was the day – the day the trip really began. I’d slept my first night on a yacht we were about to head off.

Sunday 21st January 2001

I slept fantastically. I woke up at around 6:30am and was up for breakfast. Ate brekky on the boat – cereal and UHT milk. Breakfast conversation was good, Hilda didn’t get in until 2.30am!

Then we did a few things, we prepared the boat for sailing and we practised some knots. The general standard amongst the group was pretty low. Damien and Pip were very good but Andres and the Canadians didn’t have much idea.

After that we took some team photos and tidied up. Mark did all the customs stuff with our passports etc. Then we were ready to sail at around 10am; except for the fact that there was no wind!

Andres pointed out that Marcus is your typical American – always talking, always eating with a baseball cap on.

We motored out of Ushuaia and we were off, off on the 2041, off on our great adventure – the adventure of a lifetime.

Mark was at the helm and he talked to us about what we were going to do. Our first task was raising the mainsail. We did it bit by bit and after much teamwork and help from Emily, we raised it! (there wasn’t any wind though).

We practised a few techniques and then we decided to have some lunch. Marcus (American – food is his speciality) went down and took charge.

I sat up on the deck watching the scenery. Again, it was nothing short of spectacular! We watched Ushuaia gradually become smaller in the distance. The Beagle Channel was like glass as it was so calm. We went past snow capped mountains and we could see the reflections on the water. We also saw many birds and wildlife. The sun was warm and it was quite beautiful. I even took the wheel for a while and chatted with Mark.

It was when I took the wheel that lunch was ready. Marcus had organised a delicious ham toasted sandwich. We all enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

Then after lunch the wind picked up a lot and we pulled out the Yankee. With the extra sails we had a lot more extra speed. We got up to nearly 10 knots at one stage!

We learned new techniques and new words – luffing etc. We also began some tacking manoeuvres. We all tried the different positions. After a couple of tacks I got the general idea of what had to happen on each tack. I began to get the hang of sailing. It was an excellent, exhilarating experience to be actually sailing! No motor – we got to our destination by sail power.

Then we practised a couple of man overboard drills. We went through the procedures and at one instance we threw the flag overboard and collected it.

Eventually after a great days sailing we made for Puerto Williams (Chile). We arrived and berthed on the jetty.

We did some cleaning up on the yacht and made everything tidy. Mark also did another briefing on man overboard manoeuvres etc.

Then it was free time. We got ready and then had a bit of a wander into Puerto Williams. It is a Chilean naval base so there wasn’t much to the town. We all had a look around – it was deserted. I suppose it was Sunday evening, so nothing was open.

It was a bit of a dump, dirt streets, small houses and unkept gardens and parks.

Wandered back to the boat and looked at the ‘yacht club’.

The others went to the yacht and I had a wander. I walked down the road and to a little bridge. I noticed a car stopped – looking at something on the pond. It was a moving log – a beaver! I went across and watched it for a while. It was great to watch the beaver in the Patagonian wilderness!

Then back to the yacht, wrote in here waiting to work out what happens with dinner. So a great day again today, sailing through Patagonia. Tomorrow it really begins – the Drake Passage, watches and everything. I’m learning a lot about sailing and I’ve even managed to use a clove hitch for a real situation!

We went onshore again to this restaurant that the customs officer recommended to Andres. We all walked up there through the thriving metropolis of Puerto Williams. We found the restaurant and went in. It was only the 2nd day he had been open.

His eyes lit up when we all walked in; we all looked pretty inconspicuous tramping through Puerto Williams with our red jackets etc.

We got there at around 9pmish and had some drinks. It was a bit of a speciality to Latin America, some alcoholic drink – similar to a margarita.

We chatted away and had a great time. We worked out we were eating at the most southerly ‘restaurant’ in the world! Quite a good experience.

The food came gradually, some entrée (a kebab style thing) and then some delicious hot bread. It was yummy.

I had an excellent conversation with Damien – we talked about religion for a bit as well. He asked if I was a bible bashing freak (i.e. want to convert you) – I don’t know how clear I was with my response. He is Catholic and goes to mass every week, but he doesn’t read his Bible. He is quite happy with what he’s got and doesn’t want anyone telling him what he should believe. But we had a good conversation.

The topic of what people thought about each other before the trip came up. Apparently Damien thought I’d be a pain. Hilda said she thought I would be older and more serious. Everyone said I didn’t look anything like the picture on the Intranet!

Anyway, eventually our dinner arrived – it came one by one and mine was the last to come! It was beef and chips and egg and tomato. Not too bad, but I had filled up on bread, so I couldn’t finish my dinner.

It had been a fun night, we had all enjoyed the food and the conversation.

Then finished up and headed back to the boat. I was pretty full – then got ready for be. In and to bed, my second night on the boat.

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Our team building was complete and the day had arrived for us to ‘move in’ to the 2041 – the yacht that would take us to Antarctica. It was pretty exciting…

Saturday 20th January 2001

Up at 7:12am, dressed, breakfast, then finished packing and got everything organised. I discovered that I had to pay for things like phone bills etc myself. Whoops – my bill came to US$100 – nearly $200! Not the wisest thing to do. I paid by VISA.

Then got the minibus to the wharf and the yacht, 2041.

Then got the minibus to the wharf and we met the captain – Mark and his wife Emily. We waited around for a while and eventually Brenda and Hilda arrived.

We then did some introductions – around the table (we were all in the Saloon and the Galley).

Oh – we also packed our gear in our rooms. The cabin space we were allocated was tiny! I was in the same cabin as Andres (Condor) and Marcus (Yank). I managed to fit all my gear into my tub!

Anyway the introductions went well and then Mark told us what was to happen today. We split into two groups.

I started downstairs with Marcus, Pip and Hilda. Mark showed us the things in the galley and some of the safety features. We also looked at the toilet and how to operate it and other bits and pieces. It was good.

Then it was a bit after 12pm and we broke for lunch. Again more laughter and jokes, mainly at others’ expense.

After lunch our group went up on deck and Emily showed us a few things. It was good, looking at winching, man overboard and our lifejackets. A couple of people (Hilda and Marcus) put on the big protective clothes – it looked funny. It was a helpful time.

After that we did a bit of organising and then Mark got the whole team on deck and we went through a few jobs and responsibilities. I have the job of ‘Antarctic Protocol’ – I have to ensure we comply!

We were also allocated our watches, I’m on watch with Brenda and Lynn. I think that means we’re up till pretty late on the first night!

Anyway after that, went into town and wandered around there for a while. I tried to get some money out, but I couldn’t! Jane ended up lending some to me!

I had a wander. This really is a very spectacular part of the world. I’m very fortunate to be on this trip.

I took some photos, wandered up to the end of the wharf and then to the 2041. I helped move some food about and wrote in here.

Things have gone pretty well so far. I’m really looking forward to the sailing now, Emily and Mark have said that you could almost sail the 2041 with 1 person! So that made me feel a lot better. I’m willing to learn about sailing and Mark and Emily are going to be very willing to teach us.

The big thing at the moment is sea-sickness. Everyone is talking about it and are discussing remedies. I’m hoping that I can be a bit of an iron-stomach and not get it too bad.

We have dinner ashore tonight – then tomorrow off the Chile and my first day of sailing!

I wandered into Ushuaia with Andrews and I practised more of my Spanish. We met up with others at the Food Garden and waited outside La Rueda for more.

I practised more Spanish with Andres and found out he is known as ‘Little Ant’ in his soccer team in Colombia. I said to him the name we have is ‘dogsbody’.

Then in for dinner. We had everyone on the boat there except for Jane who wasn’t feeling particularly well.

Dinner was good, pleasant conversation with Lynn and Hilda and Mark and Andres. We also talked with Andres trying to get the correct words in Spanish.

I feel like I’m getting the grasp of a bit Spanish, having Andres around is excellent.

Dinner was great – I ate heaps and had meat salad.

People went off to Internet cafes etc. I left at a bit after 10pm with Pip, went back to the boat. Got a bit sorted out and now I’m ready for bed. I took a sea-sickness pill – I hope to get a good nights sleep.

I can’t quite believe we sail out of Ushuaia tomorrow! The wait for this has been so long. Tomorrow we’re in Chile, then we’re off to attack the Drake Passage.

I don’t quite know what I’m feeling, it still isn’t quite real! I’m almost more excited about the prospect of sailing and learning to sail than I am about Antarctica. I suppose it’s because the Antarctica trip has become part of my expectations and my thoughts for so long! It will be a great skill learning to sail and I’m hoping to make the most of it. Paul Cameron said if I get some seamanship course when I get back I could possibly be on a crew on a Sydney to Hobart or somethin!?! Now I’m going to try and sleep in my new bed for the next 2.5 weeks or so! I hope it is good.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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