+27 (0)82 4000 470 rob@robcaskie.com

Today is my Day 10 of mandatory Chilean quarantine, which began in Santiago, and continued in Punta Arenas. I have mentioned to many friends that I understand now why prisoners are often more of a threat to society upon release, than they may have been upon incarceration. As social animals this sort of isolation is very challenging indeed, as we have confirmed working virtually for almost two years now. The folks I have had some interaction with have been charming and helpful. From the nurse who takes my temperature twice a day, with whom I communicate via Google Translate. The wonderful people who deliver the food three times a day in the famous brown paper bags. We smile behind our masks, and get by with hand signs. The food has been very good, compared with my colleagues fare in Valparaiso. The housekeeping staff have provided towels, loo paper and the like, but I have preferred not to have the room serviced given the Covid threats hereabouts. Seems folly to spend ten days in isolation and pick up the bug from someone who comes to service the room?

Directly opposite my room window is the statue commemorating Chile’s possession of the Magellan Strait, and clearly an important local meeting place. On Saturday evening (5 to 8pm) a group of drummers got together and played, loud, tuneless, monotonous noise ceaselessly. On Sunday there were a number of church services, all with speakers which were essential that the service be heard over the ubiquitous wind. The walking/cycle tracks (similar to our promenades) are popular, and many cyclists ride with their unleashed dogs running alongside them. With such a busy road next to the track, I feel nervous for the dogs, but clearly they are raised this way. Generally an evening activity since South America generally rises late. Shops open at 10am, and restaurants often open at 9 or even 10pm. There are many places to cross the busy beach road, and drivers are extremely courteous at stopping for pedestrians. Somehow I cannot see this being the case back home?

Thankfully my temperature has remained constant over these past 9 days. Pending the result of a PCR test later today, and weather permitting I board my ship tomorrow morning, bound for Antarctica, then South Georgia and Cape Town. What a special privilege. My cup runneth over…

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