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Pole to Pole

Day 134: Santiago to Punta Arenas

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe reason for our delay, Mercury apart, is all to do with the 707, which I have a feeling was a last-minute replacement. When the time came to re-start the engines there was no generator at Concepcion airport powerful enough to provide the necessary charge. The engines are eventually re-started and we take off again in late afternoon. This time the air-conditioning has failed and as we begin to see icy peaks and glaciers below, the temperature on board verges on the Sudanese.

Somewhere below us the Trans-America Highway runs out and with it all road connection to Punta Arenas. The long Chilean coastline fragments into a breathtakingly spectacular array of mountainous islands, straits and fiords, of which the thickening cloud cover offers only tantalizing glimpses.

At half-past seven, ten hours into what should have been a two-and-a-half-hour flight, we turn and bank over the Straits of Magellan and down across sparsely-covered grassland into Carlos Ibanez Airport, Punta Arenas. We have reached latitude fifty-three degrees South. I should feel at home; I was brought up on fifty-three degrees - North, of course.

This realization does bring home to me the scale of the travelling that still lies ahead of us. Punta Arenas may be the last stop before Antarctica, but it is still as far from the South Pole as Sheffield is from the North Pole.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 134
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 300

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