An elbow on the table

I awoke very early this morning. Too darn early in fact. The boat was a rockin and it wasnt because of loud music and dancing. We were nearing Cape Horn and I was filled with fear and excitement all at once. I wanted to catch the sun rise at the end of the earth and as time went by I could see a line of red on the horizon from where we lay. Then it disappeared. I decided to have a shower and head up to the next floor to see if I could stomach a cup of tea. Before departure I ingested more drugs to keep the illness at bay and ward off any potential sea sickness and I also packed an emergency tablet in case I was to throw up again. Upstairs Carol and Gail popped in shortly after me and we caught a brief few minutes of sunrise shortly before the clouds closed in and visibility diminished. We were almost there and the weather did not look good. We still didnt know if they would allow us to disembark on Cape Horn as the sea down here is so unpredictable. I managed a cup of tea and half a cheese sandwich. My hiking boots were on, my life jacket was on and my beloved husband bounced onto the lounge next to us all kitted up as well. Would they allow us to disembark? Would we have the unique opportunity of walking the 6000 odd steps up to the lighthouse and the broken albatross monument at the end of the world? The Southern most tip of South America? To walk on the last land before Antartica, over 1000 km south of New Zealand’s most Southerly point? To physically touch the ground 2400km South of the Cape of Good Hope?

The captain sent men ashore to check the landing site first. The zodiacs were then accompanied by two men in dry suits standing in the water and a few others around catching the boats as they drove into the rocks. We threw our legs over and climbed out in time with the waves. There was no beach and our path led directly up. The steps were steep and wet. Our hands were frozen. God knows how they first landed here and built the lighthouse.

Well this means we did it! We landed on Cape Horn! The zodiacs threw us onto shore and we climbed up the stairs in freezing rain and climbed inside the lighthouse where flags from everywhere adorned the walls. The first flag I saw was from Koln near where my Aunt Christa hales from. (By the way I have no idea how many steps there are up to the lighthouse – just that there are a lot and it felt like 6000 to me!) We now can put one elbow on the table at dinner in my opinion (thanks to Cousin Charlie for letting me know that once a sailor rounds Cape Horn he is entitled to one elbow and another for the Cape of Good Hope – I thought we were going to have to get anchor tattoos! Elbows are so much more convenient).

So that was that, we have been to the end of the world, it was done, there was going to be another shore excursion in the afternoon at Wulaia Bay before disembarking in Ushuaia Argentina on the morrow but we were not doing anymore hiking today! We would disembark in Ushuaia tomorrow and that would be that. After all I was still unwell.

Well I wasnt going to do anymore hiking and neither was my beloved but we couldnt help ourselves. We were addicted! As soon as the announcement came at ten to four we were up dressed and ready to roll! But this time we did the slow walk again. We were determined to use the time and look closely at things. Stop and smell the roses so to speak. We visited this uninhabited bay where Darwin stopped off and Fitzroy returned the boys i mentioned before whom he had educated in England – these stories were really interesting, sad and adventurous all at once and so very much like Australia’s history. The land had once been used as a sheep station but had long since been abandoned. There were signs of wild pigs digging, just like in Australia. Pests left from a by gone era. A positive was that we could take many photos without holding anyone up – the negative, well, you guessed it – we were now super human and the likes of Colonel Sanders and the Bird lady were still entertaining me. These little walks along the shore were nothing more than warm up stretches now and strolling slowly means barely moving and you get cold – your mind goes numb – you start imagining things – But more importantly, it is so difficult to work out what to wear in these parts and that has nothing to do with fashion – just let me say if its slow and its windy and you aint movin, you need four layers at least. Maybe thats why bird lady looked a little like a penguin – so many layers – oh my good heavens — maybe I do too now!!!

So then was our farewell dinner with our Canadian friends – it was a little sad as we had become a bit of a team. We have also made some new friends from Hawaii and have had a few good laughs with Stacey and Lorena. We have shared some very unique experiences – the camaraderie that comes with the towers of pain and also here on our trip to the end of the world cannot be underestimated. We are so lucky to have struck such great travel companions to share these experiences with. Sadly and yet with eager anticipation we now move onward to new adventures!


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