Thursday, December 23

Hola America del Sur!

Garry and I have arrived without incident in Santiago, Chile. We've now been travelling by train and plane for almost 30 hours since leaving Interlaken yesterday morning. Our flight from Frankfurt was eventually delayed almost four hours. This meant that the scheduled transit stop in Madrid occurred at the unholy hour of 1am.

We also had some sort of medical emergency on board shortly before landing in Spain. As a result we were asked to remain seated at the gate until a team of medics boarded and made it's way down the aisle. Soon after we deplaned an ambulance pulled up to the rear exit making for some rather morbid entertainment in the middle of the night. This incident also delayed our departure until after 3.30am.

These cascading delays meant that we arrived in Santiago too late to make our connecting flight to Punta Arenas. Fortunately LAN Chile automatically rebooked us on a mid-afternoon departure which has left us killing time for a couple of hours at the airport. We're now in the lounge making the most of its free wi-fi access.

There's also a small silver lining to this latest delay. Our original flight to Punta Arenas included a transit stop, adding at least an hour to the journey south. Our new connection is a direct flight. We'll finally arrive at the southern tip of Chile around 7pm this evening. How remarkable. In less than 48 hours we'll have travelled from the heart of the Swiss Alps to a town located a few hundred kilometres from Cape Horn. Two hundred years ago the same journey would have taken four months or more.

We've been checking the forecast for Esperanza Research Base on the Antarctic peninsula, located roughly 150km from King George's Island. We board our cruise from this island following a 2.5 hour flight from Punta Arenas. It seems that our luck with the weather may be about to run out. The forecast for the next ten days at Esperanza consists largely of overcast skies, light snow or rain. Our cruise may be rather damp.However I'm holding on to the naive notion that the weather will be a little better a few hundred kilometres west of Esperanza.

• Posted by iPhone
• Location:Armando Cortinez,Santiago,Chile

I've posted a few photos from Punta Arenas taken during our 36 hour stopover in Chile's southern-most city. We were surprised to discover just how large the city was despite it's remote and foreboding location.  More than 155,000 people live in the city and its surrounding suburbs. We'd expected to encounter a small ramshackle town of 10-20,000.

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