This morning I take a trip to the Punta Arenas cemetery to witness the Chilean way of death in all of its splendour. Mausoleums of the size of provincial town halls are arranged along pine avenues, monuments to several generations of wealthy wool merchants. I peer through the glass front doors that allow visitors to peer in at the coffins. Inside, they are decorated with plastic flowers, silver framed photos of the deceased, lace doilies, carpets and even door mats. I am finding this all vaguely amusing until I am brought up short – the next one is filled with toy cars and teddy bears.
Its definitely time for cake.
Blood sugar restored, its time for the pre-cruise briefing and boot fitting sessions. I will be sharing my room with a pleasant, Chilean photographer named Jermo – he quiet and companiable. I think I have done well for a room mate. He on the other hand has no idea how badly he has done.
In amongst the briefing sessions I am delivered a piece of bombshell news. The luggage allowance for the flight to South Shetland including hand luggage is a measley 20kg. Struggling downstairs with my luggage to place it on the bathroom scales in reception I discover I am a whopping 10kg over the limit.
Back in the room I unpack my luggage on the bed and am forced to admit I have packed like a supermodel. There follows a sort of real life re-enactment of the balloon game where every piece of baggage is evaluated to determine its credentials for a trip of heroic proportions.
Out go the travel towel, spare shoes, spare fleece, tee-shirts, playing cards, guide to Chile, extra paperback books, kindle (and charger), spare plug adapters and empty camera bag and then its back downstairs.
Its time to get ruthless. Out go my travelling bath plug, half the shampoo in the bottle, half my remaining clothes, hand gel cleanser, medical kit, tissues, wet wipes, waterproof bags, combined knife and fork eating implement, elastic washing line and (sigh) the special edition Victorinox swiss army penknife. then its back downstairs.
So what it boils down to is this. I am a writer – do I take my PC or do I take spare underwear? I make my choice – re-weigh and, gloriously I am 200grams under the limit.
As for what I chose to discard, well what can I say? I suffer for my art. And shortly, so will everyone else.