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Liz On The Loose
No Photos 6th Jan 2017 - 7th Jan 2017 - Adventure in Antarctica
28 hours on the road...back to frozen Canada

I woke up at 6am this morning to get ready for our long travel day.  I had taken a pear the day before have as my morning snack.  I couldn't envision myself eating much that early.  I headed down stairs to eat near a window on the deck and saw Brian.  We chatted before finding my parents as they came off the elevator. 

We all cleared out of our rooms in order for the staff to start cleaning for the next bunch of passengers.  Then we sat waiting for our bus letter to be called.  When we were called, we boarded a bus to drive down the dock and get scanned at customs.  They ran our carry-on bags through a scanner, but I feel like they didn't even look at the screen.  We hopped back on the bus and were treated to another tour of Punta Arenas.  It was very different type of tour, it was more about the present day, not about the history.  Here are some highlights:
-3 months of winter and 9 months the of all seasons (weather changes every 5 minutes)
-Town was very important before Panama Canal opened
-Fire land = Tierra del Fuego because they saw the native fires for cooking and warmth
-End of the World because it is connected to land unlike Ushuaia, so it is southern most Point despite Argentinian claims (although Puerto Williams is the most southern settlement, but it is on an island)
-Most expensive city in Chile (Santiago apples cost 75 cents. Here in Punta Arenas four dollars)
-Gas is most expensive even though the oil is taken from here 
-Pinochet took power in 1973 and got rid of duty free for Punta Arenas
-Salaries are higher here (prices still rising)
-Safest city in chile (can walk everywhere) 
-Cleanest region in Chile (No plastic bags here)
-Family lunches here (not a siesta) and other regions don't 
-Nearby Magdalena Island 150000 penguins couples and then their babies. One man lives there to care for them and use the lighthouse 

I would actually like more time in Punta Arenas to photograph all of the unique houses.  Each one had different colours and architecture.  I also found the seaside basketball courts and skate park to be quite amusing.  Knowing the weather they get here, this park must be difficult to use.

***During the tour, she told us that if you touched the toe of the Magellan's statue it means you will return to the Magellan Strait.  Luckily, I saw other tourists doing this on our stop before the cruise and I blindly followed them.  I can't wait to come back and explore Antarctica again!***

At the airport, we lined up for security right away. Being a charter flight, they had preprinted our boarding passes and taken our luggage. The security lineup was pretty long.  Once we got closer, we realized why, one of the scanners was broken. It was quite a funny scene to see them repairing the belt and parts of the machine with duct tape. Say what you will about duct tape, it worked.  Soon after Brian arrived to join us, told us his bus had a woman trying to take an apple into the country. He didn't think she was fined, but she was quite upset when she was asked to fill out a new customs form in order to keep her apple. The cruise ship offered a full breakfast only thirty minutes before this, so I am baffled by her wanting to hold on to the apple. 

We boarded our flight. Lucky Brian got a seat in the first row, while we were in cattle class in the back. However, everyone wanted to sit with their friends and kept switching seats which left me with a vacant seat beside me.  Almost instantly after the food was served, I fell asleep. I hadn't planned on it and didn't take out my neck pillow and did the head roll thing for about an hour. 

At Santiago we picked up our bags at the baggage carousel and said our farewell to Brian (he is staying one more night in town before going home). I have had many amazing experiences on this trip (I truly am a lucky girl), but getting to spend this trip with Brian has been my favourite of all of them. I have found a great friend and hopefully a future travel buddy. Thanks for everything, Brian. 

We entered into the departures terminal and found the Air Canada lounge would not be open until 6:30pm.  That gave us nearly four hours to kill before we would then have to wait again.  We went to have lunch at the cafeteria.  We all enjoyed our bacon cheeseburgers while catching up on blogs and watching people walk by.  

Looking for a change in scenery after a couple of hours, we wandered in the direction of the check-in desk to find that it had just opened.  Hooray.  We checked in and went through security.  Once we were on the other side we went shopping.  Mom has been on my case to buy a non-silver ring since this summer.  Somehow, I relented to her arguments (it only took 7 months) and bought a blue (possibly lapis lazuli) and silver ring.  I realize it doesn't sound like a big departure from my usual, but it was a big win for mom.  This ring reminds me of sailing on the Magellan Strait and all of the good times with my parents and Brian.

We sat for a couple of hours after shopping waiting at the gate to board our plane.  The information displays kept showing that our plane was already boarding, however, there wasn't even a plane at our gate.  Dad was growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of schedule adherence.  I have grown accustomed to airlines always seemingly running behind...what got under my skin was different.  I just drives me nuts how airlines board their planes.  In fact, Brian and I were discussing this in the Punta Arenas airport.  I don't understand the value of loading front to back.  In all of the places I have travelled, my fastest loading was when they called specific rows (back to front). I hate waiting behind people who didn't come when their front sections were called and I am waiting behind them to find a spot to cram their three carry-on items. One man threw his luggage up above row 11 and then walked to row 29 to sit.  This of course means that people in row 11 can't fit their luggage and while they search around five different rows, I can't get to row 44.  We were happy to finally be on the plane and in our final stretch. 

On the plane, I watched two bad movies and tried to sleep (head bob style again, even though I had my neck pillow).  Our flight also had quite a bit of turbulence today, probably more than I had ever experienced. I wasn't ever stressed as pilots are professionals, but it make sleep difficult. Knowing our travel day was to be longer than 24 hours, I knew this would make for a rough Saturday.  We did land without any problems and sailed right through customs (I love the system at Pearson). At the luggage carousel we were sniffed by dogs and all of the luggage seemed to appear on the belt 20 pieces every fifteen minutes. Ours were among the last ones to appear (probably due to our extremely early check-in). It didn't bother me at all, but I did feel badly for my brother-in-law who had been waiting in the airport parking area since about 6am. We finally made it out of the terminal at 7:30am.  Upon walking outside, we were greeted by a bracingly cold wind at about -15 degrees celsius (you could feel your nose hairs freeze). Most of our days in the Antarctic were about +5 degrees celsius and we were shocked back to reality by our truly Canadian weather.  Needless to say, we were happy for Larry's seat warmers in his car. 

Once we were home, we turned the heat back up, got the mail, and settled in. I did all of my laundry and started reading through my mail (letters and emails). My parents headed to bed for most of the day as they had not slept much on our transit day. As we slowly readjust back to normal every day life we are thankful for the wonderful once in a lifetime experience (I intend to go back though...I touched Magellan's toe) and our new lifelong friends. 

Goodnight. 
Liz



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