Thursday, November 19, 2009

The deep south

We are in MuttonWorld.

Punta Arenas sits by Strait of Magellan, marking where Pacific waters become Atlantic. It's the southernmost city of any size (about 116,000) in the world. Think cold and windy, without a whole lot of winter sunshine.
The Spainiard José de los Santos Mardones established the place in southern Patagonia in 1849 and it became a signficant port of call and coal depot until the Panama Canal created the shortcut that meant shipping routes didn't have to snake below South America. But while it was big, it was also a popular gathering spot for spies keeping eyes out for what was going where.
Now it's about sheep and oil, drawn from the Tierra del Fuego oil fields.
Chile claims a sliver of Anarctica that runs clear to the South Pole. In fact, there's a monumnet south of Punta Arenas -- which lies at the south end of what the rest of the world recognizes as Chile -- that marks the supposed center of Chile.

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