Marching on: R. Larramendi

The past few days’ preparations and stress are finally over. No more worrying that you’ll forget something important, that even the slightest fault can lead to dire consequences.  The flight to South Africa (with a connection in Dubai) was quite exotic bearing in mind we’re heading for the South Pole. It was hard to sleep on the plane but even so it helped us to relax and take our mind off things. It was just what we needed.

When we got to Cape Town, Victor Seroy was there waiting for us Victor is the ALCI representative and my long-time companion on a number of trips to the North Pole; in fact, the last time I’d seen him we were 90º North and the pair of us were on board a helicopter taking us home from the Pole. He’s an amiable Russian with loads of experience in Polar logistics and expeditions.

Victor confirms that our cargo plane has arrived and is standing by in a nearby hangar. That, and the fact that all our luggage has arrived intact, is good news. Lost items of luggage are always a cause for concern because it can jeopardize an expedition’s success. Victor takes us over to the hangar where an Afrikaner-looking guy shows us all our gear. There’s not a moment to lose and before making our way to the hotel in Cape Town we all set about opening everything and making sure that it’s all in order. We have to work outside the hangar; despite the strong wind, the temperature is pleasant. There are always things to do, but everything appears to be under control. Javi checks out his cameras, computers and satellite phones, while Ignacio and I look over the sled and kites and pack them up again. They finally lock up the hangar at 4 p.m. and we make our way to our hotel, which turns out to the Parliament Hotel, the one we stayed at in 2005. Everything brings back memories—six years have gone by! Cape Town is a nice, pleasant city and the tall mountains that surround it and the characteristic mesa make the city look very impressive.

We bundle our stuff into the hotel room and carry on checking things over. We’re tired and we want to get to bed. But there’s still time to eat a hearty dinner at a nearby hotel. Ignacio and Javi tuck into outsize steaks while I opt for a lamb stew washed down with a good South African wine. With the rush to sort things out in the hangar, as soon as our heads touched the pillow. We had to skip lunch. We got to bed early and were out like a light.

Today we spent the day doing some last-minute shopping for food: butter, sugar and the indispensable Tang-brand powdered orange juice which, for some reason, they’ve stopped selling in Spain. A little bit of shopping and ambling around the packed city streets, and then lunch at a small open-air market. People all over the place and wind, a lot of wind. Spent the afternoon checking the kites, putting-on logos, stitching and adjusting the clothing, casting an eye over the tools. It’s time to get the Expedition under way, but it still seems a long way off. For a start, our flight’s been postponed from December 6th to the 7th, so maybe we won’t be off until the 10th of December instead of the 9th as originally scheduled.

 

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