“Winter in Punta Arenas resembles a giant cetacean that rests on the tide. It is my city. I was born and raised in it. Many times I’ve traveled to other latitudes but I always return to my place, like strengthening a preterit yet revealing ritual. Sometimes I realize that to stare at her is also to invent her […]
To walk around here in a winter afternoon is like tasting an extremely fresh mint. It’s a cold that permeates even the teeth, a mix of pain and pleasure proper to the closeness with the ice at the end of the world.” — Extract from the book El barco de los esqueletos by Óscar Barrientos Bradasic (2014).
I borrow these intense words from this Magellanic writer to describe my own state of mind, my place on the Earth and my conditions while walking along the coastline of Punta Arenas at sunset. We are in the middle of the season on board an Australis expedition cruise ship that is dedicated to discovering and exploring Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia all the way down to Cape Horn. Every day in this region you wake up to the prospect of new adventures, starting with the most beautiful sunrises one could ever imagine. The winds that blow along the Strait of Magellan carry the scent of the sea and the freshness of untamed lands, so I truly understand this “extremely fresh mint” of Bradasic’s passage.
After more than two months of exploring and living at the uttermost extreme of the Americas, I can proudly say that I am a part of this experience. To welcome people from all over the world and guide them with wisdom, showing them this very special part of our planet, made me realize our role as active agents in showcasing and preserving our environment. Always, of course, with a commitment to learning more about the place ourselves and with a determination that pushes us to always discover more. Every day we witness the majesty and strength of nature: incredibly strong winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean, the rough and insatiable sea, thousands of birds flying all around us, the immense glaciers and mountains of the Darwin Range with all their splendor as we cruise through the Tierra del Fuego archipelago with all of its unique flora and fauna. And part of the adventure is the travelers, so full of stories, who come to journey with us to the bottom of South America. As I prepare my coffee and venture out onto the deck to savor the landscape, I think to myself “How beautiful it is to live in the end of the world!”