Friday, January 26, 2018

Montevideo to Punta del Este, Uruguay, January 22, 2018

It's been another great day!

There's a huge statue of Artiga in Indepencia Square.  He is their hero of independence.  This is a 17 meter, 30 ton statue-

Underneath is his tomb and it's guarded by 2 live soldiers.  Imagine!

The only original part of the city's wall is this small piece of the Puerta de la Ciudadela.  The colonial citadel was demolished in 1833.  It is also in Indepencia Square-

My first stop was at the Museo de Los Andes which commemorates the plane crash on Friday, October 13, 1972 of a Uruguayan Fairchild 227 airplane that was carrying a rugby team on its way to Santiago, Chile.  32 of 45 passengers survived the initial crash and they waited to be rescued.  10 days after their accident, they heard on their transistor radio that the search had been called off.  17 days from the crash another 8 were killed when an avalanche smothered their plane. They slept in the fuselage, wrapped up in a huge sleeping bag they made from the insulation around the air conditionning unit, sewing it together with copper wire.  Temperatures were always below -30 C.  They didn't have proper clothes because they were going from one warm climate to another.  They didn't have much food because they were on a short flight.  In order to survive, they devised a system to melt snow for drinking, used the fabric from the seat covers as quilts and they made sunglasses to protect their eyes from the intense solar radiation.  Eventually, rather than starve to death, they decided to eat the dead.  Finally, they decided they would have to walk out if they were to survive.  2 men took 10 days and numerous attempts to go for help.  Eventually they came across a cattle herder and he went to the police.  It is impossible to imagine the feelings of the families and of the men themselves when it became clear there were survivors.  One of the fathers read the names of the living over the radio.  He hadn't pre-read the list to know if his son's name was on the list or not.  Fortunately for him, it was!
It wasn't until January 1973, when the site was more accessible, that the dead were finally buried and the wreckage of the plane was burned.  Parts that scattered during the crash kept showing up in glacier runoff for years.

Other difficulties were that the snow was 1.2 meters deep so walking was difficult.  Temperatures were -25 to -35 C.  The wind was very strong and there were numerous blizzards.  Without sunglasses, they were virtually blinded by the bright sun on the snow.  

They tried many times to escape but usually ran into a problem.  One of the men, Strauch, fell into a crevasse and had to be rescued.  On another attempt, they found the tail of the plane and 6 bodies.  On another, they found part of one of the wings and 2 days later, the rear door.  Another time, after 3 hours, they returned because of intense snowfall.  Eventually they found the tail and wanted to take the battery back to their camp with the hope of using the power but it was too heavy so they took the radio to the tail.  Unfortunately the voltage was different and it didn't work.  

On average, the survivors lost 29 kg.  Roy Harley was 1.8 meters tall and before the trip weighed 84 kg.  When found, he weighed 38 kg.  

72 days after the crash, 16 men were rescued.  

A hat and mits that were made from seat fabric-

The event has been made into the movie Alive. It was shot in the Rockies near Calgary.  I am looking forward to watching it when I get home.  

After the museum I checked out of my hotel and made my way to-

What a disappointment!  The only things they had with Montevideo written on them were a coffee mug and a bandana that cost $50 US!  So I came away empty handed.

Because people live in apartments, dog walkers are popular-

I went to the gigantic bus terminal where I found my twin-

and then spent 2.15 hours on a very comfortable bus to Porta Del Estes where I found the group at Camping San Rafael.  I'm on cook group tomorrow night and hoping for a good sleep tonight, back in my tent!

1 comment:

  1. you will really enjoy the movie Alive...I had read the book before but sounds like you know lots about the accident...just a miracle that some survived!! love following your adventures.


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