Tuesday (pretty early) – it is now shortly before the time I was scheduled to be home in London as a returning hero. Instead I am still in the South Shetland Islands outside a Chilean Airforce Base at Frei Station waiting for the weather to lift so the plane can get in and pick us up. Whilst most people are phlegmatic about the delay there are still some who have a loud and tiresome sense of humour failure in the direction of anyone who will listen.
I also learn (through calling home) that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has had to drop out of his Trans-Antarctic crossing due to injuries received in training.
I feel bad for Sir Ranulph as I also feel frustrated that this delay is preventing me from being with my family (really missing you guys) . However it underlines the fact that Antarctica is not a regular destination. In a world where we live by schedules, demand certainties and have an unshakable belief that if something goes wrong there must be someone you can sue, we are surprised and rattled when the wilderness turns around and bites us in the backside. I have a feeling that this is good for us.
So now we have a choice. Our boat is unable to wait here any longer and we are given two options:
1. We can disembark to Frei base – a spartan research station on a plot of land resembling Mars where the height of luxury is a working toilet with a seat. Here we will sleep on the floor in dormitories and eat potatoes until the weather clears and we can catch our flight to freedom. This entails an indefinite wait which could be five hours or five days.
2. We can stay on the boat and cross the Drake Passage to Ushuaia in southern Argentina where we can arrange onward flights. This assures us the relative luxury of a car ferry but will take two days to cross mountainous seas in 50 knot winds with a cast iron guarantee of sequential wall to wall vomiting.
So that’s my choice – and it’s not an easy one. If anyone has any ideas, thoughts or advice I would welcome them. Either way it will be a cracking adventure.
Get well soon Sir Ranulph.