Journeys in Latin America - January to June 2009

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Punta Arenas, Chile

I woke up after a stupendous night of sleep to heavy rain outside. Warm rain! I have since watched the mud turning back into dust as the sun worked, and have again filled my day with relaxed wandering - my brain is working fast to try to keep up with the new input, and it is such that i feel no need to seek out "tourist attractions" to fire my interest, content instead to wander around the gridded streets viewing people, peeling buildings, cars loaded with too much stuff, stray dogs, one-note buskers, and so on.

The shoreline had a certain charm for me, although computer monitors and electrical cable are not normally associated with these habitats. The day we left Rothera, i had a walk along the shore, the edge of the Magellan Strait, with this geologist and she found plenty to get excited about in the variety of pebbles on show.

I had a wander in the cemetery. Not a top destination you would think, but it seems the Chileans, especially the rich ones, go into beautifying their loved ones tombs in a big way. And so amongst the careful topiary inside a huge walled compound you can find tombs the size of bungalows and an interesting memorial "map" of the social structure of the place for the last 150 years. The larger memorials often share their names with streets in the city.

Tomorrow i will leave Punta Arenas and with it my last contact with the British Antarctic Survey, at least for the next while. I feel that my travels will really begin when i get to Puerto Natales, about 250kms to the North of here, close to the famous Torres del Paine national park. Next post will be from there...


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