It is great to be back in Punta Arenas. Left Monday the 14th at 3PM and arrived in Punta the next day at 6PM after stops in Miami and Santiago. Staying at the very lovely Patagonia Hotel up on the hill and have been joining fellow staffers at daily meetings and dining out at the Punta Arena restaurants, which after a few early stumbles have been delightful.
The communications person here in Punta has already left for Antarctica although his replacement has not yet arrived. So I have been taking on that role here while waiting to depart for Antarctica myself. It has been an interesting experience handling comms traffic from the South American side, after three months on the Antarctic side when I was down two years ago. An entirely different perspective.
Yesterday afternoon we took the day off and visited a penguin rookery about an hour and a half from Punta Arenas. It was a chilly and rainy afternoon but the region was quite beautiful in its simple splendor and is reminiscent of the Scottish highlands. On the drive out to the rookery we passed the British Antarctic patrol ship Endurance, which was sitting at the dock at a disconcerting fourteen degree angle to port. Published reports indicated that she hit a rock at the entrance to the Straits of Migellan not far west of here, although reports this afternoon through a Royal Navy connection are that she blew out a seacock, flooding the engine room and necessitating an embarrasing tow into Punta Arenas by a frigate of the Chilean Navy. Evidently British engineers have already been flown in and it will take three weeks to repair the damage.
This afternoon we headed out in buses to the airport in hope of a flight to Patriot Hills. Unfortunately, the winds were too strong to allow a landing and after waiting several hours in hopes of a change we returned to Punta for a great dinner out. The forecast is for better conditions in Patriot Hills tomorrow and we have hopes of making it in.
So that brings you all up to date. Hopefully the next blog entry will be from Antarctica!