By David Mercy

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Manuel’s jaw dropped – but I had heard from Mark that this was a common practice. indd 35 18/11/2005 14:52:41 BERSERK IN THE ANTARCTIC berth on the six-month trip across the Pacific. The money would be used to pay for our share of supplies, such as petrol and food staples, and for the necessary upkeep of the boat. Jarle had provisioned for himself for six months, but if we came along it would be necessary to buy more of everything. He knew what to buy, and he knew how much, but he would need the money, in cash, right away.

Ai yai yai,’ he mumbled loudly, looking over at Boris. ’ Yeah, whatever. I ran back to the tent and unlocked it, quickly rolling up my sleeping bag and grabbing my pack. I found a piece of scrap paper amongst my things and quickly scribbled a note to my Swiss benefactor. ‘Going to Antarctica,’ I wrote. ‘Thanks for everything. Have a nice life. ’ I tossed the spare key inside and locked the tent. ‘Seeya,’ I said to the owner and Boris as I jumped back into the cab. They simply looked on in dismay, shaking their heads and mumbling to each other as we pulled away.

I was proud of that. And I let Jarle know it. I really, really wanted to go with him. ‘I don’t need food and I don’t need sleep,’ I added. ’ Manuel and Jarle both laughed. ’ Jarle said to Manuel. Manuel then told his tale. He had been living with his sister and working as some sort of tour guide off Peninsula Valdes, about halfway up the Argentinian eastern shore. He had no boating experience whatsoever, but had been going out on small boats that took tourists out to see whales. About a week ago, shortly before Christmas, he had become fed up with his life and had decided to hitchhike down to Ushuaia on a whim, simply because he had never been there before.

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