Our last official night of the trip (outside of an airport), was a special one - after picking up our freshly laundered clothes, we headed to the Shackleton Bar for Happy Hour.
Punta Arenas has been at the epicentre of many historical events - besides being one of the most influential port cities in the world before the Panama Canal was built, Magellan officially wrapped up his circumnavigation of the globe here. This was also the traditional start and end point of all major Antarctic expeditions in the early 1900s - with Ernest Shackleton's ill fated 1916 expedition undoubtedly the most famous.
If you haven't read Shackleton's story, please do - it is one of the most amazing stories of leadership and survival you will ever come across. It is my favourite non-fiction read of all time (considering how much I read, that is really saying something).
In any event, we visited the actual home from which Shackleton mounted the rescue of his crew from Elephant Island - the abode is now a hotel and is host to the Shackleton Bar, with paintings and photos depicting his expedition. What an amazing piece of history (with decent Pisco Sours, to boot!).
From there, we had dinner and had to make it back for to the hotel for a 9:30 meeting with Rodrigo. He had to leave shortly afterward, so he called his buddy Claudio the salesman for a 10:15 meeting with us in the lobby. At the meeting with Claudio we went over (in Spanish) the documents they needed. After Claudio made a quick phone call, it seemed we had everything we needed to get the car sold in the morning!
Rodrigo picked us up at 9:00 am and we headed back to the Zona Franca. The next three hours were spent signing documents and visiting a notary, who prepared the Bill of Sale.
Finally, just before noon, we said a final goodbye to Manuel, who had served us admirably - our trip could have easily been derailed or altered significantly by a mechanical problem, especially since we did this whole trip in 26 days and our timing was so aggressive. The Gringos plates had to stay on the car, so we headed inside to collect our meagre bounty.
As I was signing the final document, I heard a banjo playing in the background, and then I heard Waylon Jennings singing "Just two good old boys, never meaning no harm...." Anybody who is my age would recognize that tune anywhere - it was the Dukes of Hazard theme song! And it was the ringtone of Rodrigo's friend's cell phone, Claudio, the guy who put out car deal together.
I couldn't help laughing - of all the things that could have happened at that moment, that was just about the least expected. And that, my friends, is what this trip was supposed to be about - doing something totally different, experiencing the unexpected at every turn and relishing those moments!
We left the dealership and hailed a taxi (Rodrigo had another job) just a little quiet and sad. However, it was time to set the next plan in motion - we had only two hours to get to the airport for our flight to Santiago, and then home!
After a quick lunch, Rodrigo picked us up and took us to the airport, where we boarded a flight for Santiago. The flight was 3,000 Kms and took over 3 hours - that same route took almost 2 weeks by car! We thanked Rodrigo profusely (this would have been a whole lot harder with out him) - if you are ever in Punta Arenas and need a guide, please look Rodrigo up. He has lived a very interesting life and is one of the good guys...
We are now sitting in our hotel at the Santiago airport dividing up our clothes and getting ready to go home - since we had to change our flights, we have some interesting stops along the way - we both fly to Panama, but from there we separate. I fly to the Dominican Republic, Chicago and Winnipeg on the milk run, while Bob flies to Cancun and LAX.
We want to thank all our friends for their support and encouragement along the way - we have had a great time, but having you alongside us has made the journey much more fun.
Most of all, we want to thank our families for allowing us to go away for a month and do something frivolous. The memories we've made on this father-son trip can never be taken away, and will be something I cherish for as long as I live.
Finally, I want to say thanks to my travel partner - it isn't often you get to do something like this with your father, and I recognize how special this trip has been to both of us. My parents are the reason why I love to travel - they have nurtured that "wandering spirit" in us since we were little kids. To get to see a new (at least to us) part of the world and share it with my father was beyond special - I just hope he had as much fun as I did!
I will be posting a wrap up in the coming days with some pictures (after spending some coveted time with my family) - thank you for tuning in, and we will see you on our next adventure!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain