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Pole to Pole

Day 138: Punta Arenas to Patriot Hills

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleDecember already. Christmas cards. Present lists. Parties. A telephone rings. My bleary eye catches the clock as my hand reaches for the receiver. It's 7.15, and a voice is telling me that we leave for Antarctica at midday. Into my thermal vest and long-johns, Gap denim shirt, faithful moleskin trousers, thick knitted sweater, two pairs of socks, Asolo boots and down jacket made by RAB of Sheffield. Ring home to tell them I am leaving for the South Pole. There's no one in. Leave a message on the answering machine.

'Going to the South Pole. Byee!'

Hopefully for the last time I push 'only one time the button', and say farewells once more to the helpful staff at the Cabo do Hornos. They seem to be quite accustomed to being used as a jumping-off point for Antarctic explorers, and will keep our rooms free tonight, just in case.

Collecting various hung-over Australians on our way, we drive out of Punta Arenas past Unisex Pamela and Unisex Splendid Hair Salons and the Club Hipico - 'Horse Racing once a Week'. Someone mentions the oft-quoted statistic that Punta Arenas has more brothels per head of population than any town in South America, and a local Chilean is surprised that I haven't visited the Red Zone . . . 'the cathouses', as they call them. They were a notable omission from the list Adventure Network issued us with on arrival: '101 Things to Do while in Punta Arenas'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 138
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 305

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