Thursday, January 17, 2008

the end of the world ...

Not quite the travel mishap that so nearly was, but rather Ushuaia, the worlds most southerly city.

After making our plans to join an overland expedition from the tip of South America, we spent the week beforehand watching stories like this one making headline news on Argentinian TV.

Scenes of angry mobs of stranded travellers chanting protests (they like a good demonstration here) and shots of departure boards with 90% of flights cancelled or delayed, well, let's just say it didn't fill us with confidence that we'd actually make it here on time. In the end our airport experience wasn't very pleasant, but we at least made it away just 3 hours after the scheduled departure time. In the general scheme of things I guess we were the lucky ones.

Set against a backdrop of stunning mountains, during the summer time Ushuaia is the gateway port for boat trips to the Antarctic Peninsula (which is what first brought me here 3 years ago). The rest of the year its primary function is as the administrative centre for the region of Tierra del Fuego, and as a containship port for goods headed to this remote part of the world.

After hunting out some extra gear in readiness for cold weather camping (why are we doing this?) we were left with a couple of days to relax before meeting up the rest of our fellow travellers. It gave us enough time to sample the local speciality of King Crab (fresh from a starring role in Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch") and also for some suprisingly challenging horse trekking in the surrounding mountains. It had all been going so smoothly up to that point.

I'm not sure which was the scariest moment - fording the fast flowing river on horseback with water up to my ankles, or when I turned around half way down a steep rocky ravine to see the riderless horse trotting along behind me and no sign of Mel.

Initially I felt rather guilty for not having noticed, but as she put it herself afterwards, she doesn't tend to make a lot of noise when she falls off a horse - and it's true, she didn't last time either.

I would have preferred to have fallen off myself, at least then I wouldn't have had to scare myself silly reading up on the potential symtoms of concussion on the internet as I kept the patient under observation.

Then of course there is the nagging concern that having not yet taken a tumble myself, it can only be a matter of time. Thankfully there seems to be no lasting damage beyond a broken fingernail and a sore back and neck.

So we may not be going to see Antarctica on this occasion, but the bruise on Mel's bum looks as though it could easily develop into a similar shape and size ...

As we're on "expedition" for the next 3 weeks I'm not too sure whether I'll have the opportunity to update the blog - let's see what happens. Back soon ...

1 comment:

Mike said...

Poor Mel. I don't mean falling off her horse. I mean having a bloke who suggests her bum's big enough to host a scale map of the antarctic - haha!
Stay safe out there!