CHILE IV

2/26/2022     

Awakened at 4AM by the aviation service hired by a tour company intent on getting 7 people down to Antarctica, Henry Roe sprang to life. With $2,000 American invested each, these passengers were at the mercy of the weather and got a green light on the 1st day. Taken to the airport, the old, fully loaded King Air was awaiting its contents: 5 Americans, 2 Dutch, and 1 Chilean maintenance worker. Without a full load, this flight would have been scrapped due to the high cost of shipping aviation fuel down to King George Island to get this plane back. Although this island belongs to the South Shetland archipelago, and is right next to the Antarctica Peninsula, going here is considered going to the 7th continent. Close enough. With a 4-hour flight traveling 760 miles over the Southern Ocean with 2 pilots, everything must mesh or 10 people will be krill munchies. On the way down, discussions arose amongst the 7 English speaking crowd; 5 were completing their 7th continent. Henry was on his 5th and Roy from Philly was there on a bet. Four drunks vowed to go down to Antarctica after a binge and 2 months later in Antarctica’s summer, only Roy was gonna make it. Roy needed a drink. The 30-year-olds from Holland related stories of their travels and questioned Henry why he wasn’t in heavy Arctic survival gear. “Wait,” is all he said. An oil engineer from California and a mother/daughter pair from Pittsburg rounded out the roster. Here is where sonder shines as these total strangers started weaving their life stories that entangled all their lives into 1 point in time. Upon landing, they were greeted by a scientist who would accompany them on their tour of the multiple scientific stations that set up shop on this remote outpost. But first it was food, and the box lunches came out of the King Air. Nothin’ but the best for 2K. But really? Are they gonna send a chef for the Hoi polloi? Henry grinned when he saw the 2 Dutchies stripping off their Arctic gear. It was 38°F. 

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