Punta Arenas

April 8th, 2007

South America at last! Today has been mostly spent getting from Stanley to Punta Arenas – we took a taxi along the dusty road from Stanley to Mount Pleasant (MPA) – the military base that doubles up as the Falklands´ international airport. MPA is perhaps in the top ten World Worst Airports – the terminal is a mostly featureless steel shed in the middle of the base. Because there´s only one commercial flight a week (due to poor diplomatic relations between Britain and Argentina) there isn´t a proper check-in and all the forms have to be filled in by hand. I managed to fail at every single security check and thus had all my baggage searched, a pat-down body search and a rummage through the pockets of my jacket. Having finally made it to Departures, I was rewarded with a cup of NAAFI tea and a two-hour wait whilst the PA system went mad with spurious and incomprehensible military style announcements.

Once the plane actually showed up everything was straightforward – we left a few minutes early and ninety minutes, another cup of tea and a rather nice little sandwich and pastry later we bounced onto the tarmac at Punta Arenas. Everyone gets off the plane here, goes through immigration and then passengers going on to Santiago get back on the plane again. I claimed my baggage and was met by a friendly chap from a local travel agency who drove me to my hotel. I reckon the time and money spent on Spanish lessons over the winter was worth it once I managed a rudimentary conversation with him during the 20 minute drive into town. I´m staying in a nice hotel (for two nights only – it´s Easter weekend so I booked ahead) and am now going to stroll around the block and find myself some dinner…

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