And with a minimum of fuss and fanfare, I'm back to Antarctica. Two years to the day, I am sitting back in Rothera research station, where I have a few electronic bits to sort out before flying over to Halley. But now that I have time, I shall show you a bit of Punta Arenas, and talk about the flight. The first time round, I didn't have any batteries for my camera, so pictures were a bit limited. So here's a bit more.
The flight was smooth, but grueling. 20 hours in the air in a 28 hour period is never enjoyable - and I had a broken tv screen in front of me. Fortunately, I had my trusty iPhone with me, loaded up with Futurama, The Wire, Traders, and Wall Street. So time passed with minimal fanfare.
I was happy to see that we were put in the same hotel as two years ago, with a nice top-floor restaurant and central location. Punta Arenas has the definite air of a place past its prime - basically, it was -the- stop on the Straits of Magellan, and faded into obscurity with the introduction of the Panama Canal. However, many analysts have high hopes for Chile, with a relatively strong and diversified commodity base and a stable political structure. So there's hope for the Punta Arenas economy.
But I digress. Much of the city is indeed dilapidated, and there seem to be a lot of people in fatigues, but it's very safe to walk around, and there are a nice set of restaurants and hotels near the water, catering to the tourists and the transients. One of my favourite spots on my first trip deserved a re-visit: a nice wood-interior cafe overlooking the city:
There was also an impressive high-rise hotel that just opened this year down at the water, with a chic top-floor bar. I had intentions to visit it in the evening, but dinner ran late. Some random street scenes:
Clearly Punta Arena has a top-of-the-line electricity network.
We were in Punta for less than 48 hours. The first half of that was just the eight of us that travelled from the UK; we were then joined by the pilots and air mechs - a party of about 10 in total, who accompanied us to Rothera, where most of them are based.
And I believe I'll stop it there. Next post, Rothera, with pictures! In the meantime, I shall leave you with an assortment of stray dogs. Note that the second last one is the same from last post's video - he's not having a stroke, he's just chewing a roll some other sucker gave him. And the last one is clearly not homeless, but he's in the happiest place a dog can be - in the back of a pickup truck. I caught him in mid-happiness-yawn, and thought he deserved inclusion.