So Punta Arenas, Chile is situated against the confluence of the southern edge of Patagonia (hence the grasslands that comprise the surrounds), Teirra Del Fuego and the Striats of Megellan. Even more significantly, this also marks the southern most McDonald's location. most excellent. PA also has the distinction of being THE very major shipping port in the western hemisphere before the invention of the Panama Canal. All these things combined make PA feel like very old country to me. Its a defiant living artifact of another time in industrial history that somehow matters to persist despite the odds.
And yes, I already miss home. Namely Kim, my family and freinds, Kashi and the creature comforts. Its bordering on winter here, and what I wouldn't give for another night chillin in front of the fireplace. I know, i know. :) It's fine. I just really like that fireplace!
Onto some specifics... I am aboard the Research Vessel - Nathaniel B. Palmer. I live, eat, sleep, work and play on it. Its a reather large boat. Some 300 feet long i think and somehting like 90 feet tall. Despite its girth, my commute to and from work is about 14 seconds and 40 feet. In fact, so is my commute to the galley, or the movie room, or the work out room. gotta love that! The only downside is the potential for never going outside as there really isn't any reason to do so. And given the shrunken daylight hours, it is quite conceiveable that i will not always catch a glimpse of the sun or even realize its daylight or nighttime either way! Anyway, my "Stateroom" is built for two normally, but for this port call, will only house myself (thank heavens). It is a comfortably modest bunkroom complete with CCTV, VCr, a desk and a couple of chairs. Most imprtantly however is the inclusion of my own bathroom.
We are moored onto a large pier. Its paved and big enough for semi's to drive up and down on. Its a busy pier. I believe there are about 10 boats moored to it right now. Some of them Chilean Military, some commercial fisher boats and there there is always 2 or 3 tug boats perpetually hanging around. They perform the essential duties of pushing and pulling the larger boats into place against the pier. Pretty keen.
This assigment is a bit intimidating and comes with a greater responsibility than i am used to. I will soon be the only IT rep here on the boat. The buck will both start and stop with me. No-one else to ask for help... as i need quite a bit of it at times. Combine that with my well seasoned company - some of the crew have been on multiple voyages comprising years of their waking lives en masse. me? i've got just over 36 hours. To offset my worries, my tasking has been clearly laid out in front of me. Its well defined and should make for a reasonable guide along my next 2.5 weeks. I do also intend to keep at my ready disposal, my senses of opennes, curiosity and adventure to act as my guidance in this new and strange land.
This trip has come of the very same look and feel as the South Pole trip i took January 2005. I am somewhat on my own here compared to the throngs of people available for carousing with in McMurdo. I intend to spend as much of my time reading, watching old movies, drawing and exploring (camera in hand) the local environs here to fill in the gaps otherwise occupied by the 12 hours workday... 7 days a week.
Today, i was invited to come along for the changing of the RPSC guard. There is no ceremony, except for a freindly night out sampling the local specialty drink - Pisco Sours. It provided me a great way to settle in and get to know my newly aquired sister and bretheren. It was such a fantastic experience and has lifted my spirits up just a bit. Up until tonight, i have been weary and a bit cautious.. but now i know that i am in good company and fit into the team okay.
It's getting late so for now... there will be peace in the valley.