21 January 2010

wild bureaucracy


after lunch we head back to the armada offices to meet with Captain Elvis. there is some tense discussion and it comes across that the swim was almost quashed for lack of permission from a certain office in Santiago; luckily the armada is on our side this time. any future attempts will certainly suffer labyrinthine bureaucracy. the Argentinians, who have arrived via zodiac in rather comically oversized drysuits, enter the map room, Javier presents a set of pens and we sign a number of documents-- releases, immigration declarations, and contracts. the local inspector arrives and clears the Argentine pair through customs; they've brought filled-out forms, but the papers-- like airport immigration forms-- are invalid because they are from Argentina and not from Chile. much stamping and signing ensues, followed by xeroxing and lamination of the documents returning to Ushuaia. the drysuits exit, both carrying incongruous briefcases. and then the next news: the Chilenos will not cross into Argentina's waters-- the Channel is divided in half-- and the Argentinians will not escort us across the other half. I can't help but sigh impatiently. and now, on top of everything else, we have to hire a zodiac and a pilot to take us across. ahora.

we head over to the Club de Yates to see if we can recruit some amateur sailors to pilot the swim. and there, across the inlet, next to the abandoned lodge, are the horses. the large brown stallion is fervently humping the pregnant black mare. it's hard to pay attention to the lovely Italian couple on deck, who remind me of my parents somewhat as they tell us about their week-long sailboat trip around the area, sea-lions, glaciers and whales. Cristian's phone never seems to stop ringing. this time, it's good news. just as we're about to recruit the Italians or the Swiss guy--who has just come back from the almacen with a bag of chips and is tucked into the hatch of his weather-beaten boat, writing in a meticulously clean orange leather diary-- Cristian holds the phone away from his ear. we have a boat! relief. he even managed to bargain down the price.

we're set. we meet at the armada office tomorrow morning at eight. now for small errands: I'm set on a package of plain lemon cookies that I saw yesterday in the almacen. I recall the package of oatmeal cookies that I devoured before the swim last year, and feel a need to have something around, just in case. these are no times to resist emotional snacking.

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