Ian Middleton

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To the End of the World and Back

To the End of the World and Back by Ian Middleton

At the far southern tip of South America, surrounded by some of the world’s roughest seas, lies the island of Tierra del Fuego. It’s three days into the new Millennium, and Ian is about to set off on the journey of a lifetime.

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After finally tearing himself away from the delights of Buenos Aires he journeys down through the wild and spectacular landscape of Patagonia. The journey should have been simple and direct, but turned out to be neither. Discover, after miles of hostile landscape, the wonders that lie at the end of this continent: spectacular mountain scenery and a thriving community of friendly people in the southernmost city in the world. Then travel back through the diversity of the long, thin country of Chile where he: goes to painful lengths to hike the mountains and touch a glacier, gets stranded in the desert, takes an ill-fated journey across the Andes before ending up on Lake Titicaca where, on an island that belongs more at the turn of the last Millennium, he gains a fascinating insight into the life of some Titicaca Indians. Finally end it all off with an illegal tour of San Pedro prison in La Paz, led by one of the inmates, Fernando, a drug dealer.

This book tells the fascinating story of Ian’s experiences as a lone backpacker on a not so lonely journey across South America. There are tales of the opulent cultures Ian encounters as he makes his way along the East Coast from Buenos Aires to the southernmost tip of South America and the inestimable experience of actually being at Tierra del Fuego, the end of the world. The geographer will enjoy the stories of how Ian experienced and handled the exotic climates of South America and sometimes found that he was not dressed for the weather. The historically-minded will relish Ian’s deep insight into the culture and customs of the Titicaca Indians. Hikers will dig the stories of how Ian tackled the desolate and sometimes perilous landscape as he moved in to get the closest possible shot of the breathtaking scenery.

One of Ian’s adventures concerned a planned peaceful hike through the Chilean mountains. As February constitutes the equivalent of their summer, it was felt by Ian that a hike in the mountains could be a pleasant experience. Even the light snow that flitted about did not deter Ian and his travelling companions as they started up. Upon taking a break after a couple of hours climbing, Ian noticed to his dismay that the tent pegs and ropes had vanished from his backpack. There was no way to anchor the tent without them. Ian had to split from his companions and go back. After about five minutes, the light snow transformed into a Siberian-style blizzard. What to so next? Ian’s waterproof trousers were in his backpack, which he had hidden by leaving a marker at the point from which he turned back. With the weather closing in on him and barely able to make out the trail, Ian’s options were running out. Find out in this book how this damp story concluded.

Learn about a four-day tour across the Bolivian Altiplano in a jeep that kept breaking down! Even given unreliable transport, a trip to the end of the salar near the Isla de Pescadores was hard to resist. The reward was a view of the most amazing sunset in the world. The price to be paid was a 76-kilometre drive in a jeep that was about as reliable as a Virgin train. Ian tried to convince his companions that they could make it. But as the sun set, the jeep spluttered to a stop, not for the first time. Ian and his companions were still miles from the edge of the salar as darkness was setting in. The jeep was also starting to hit water. The driver struggled to make out the tyre tracks. Did they make it or not?

Header image – Ushuaia

Image by marciorahal from Pixabay