Thursday, 1 December 2011

South America Looming

My father was born in Buenos Aires, of British parents who after WW1got married and went to Argentina in 1919 where they became ranchers and settled in Punta Arenas, Tierra Del Fuega which is in Southern Patagonia.

My grandparents were an amazing couple from letters and archives I have inherited and stories by Dad.  My grand father, Harry Mathers, who was English, was an officer in King Edwards Calvary and my grandmother Miss LM Reid, who was Irish, was an officer in Queen Marys Army Auxiliary Corp who worked with the French underground movement and for her services, I have a framed certification from:

      War Office, Whitehall, S.W.  
 Miss L.M. Reid, was mentioned in Dispatches from
      Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, dated 16th March 1919
      for gallant and distinguished services in the Field. 
I have it on my command from the King to record His Majestys' high appreciation for services rendered - 
signed by Winston Churchill, Secretary State for War.

My grandfather died in 1923 from wounds suffered in King Edwards Light Horse Calvary. My grandmother was left with two sons to care for and a Funda ( sheep ranch) to manage.  

My father Ken was three years old and his brother Dennis  was eighteen months, a task in itself, then throw in  a sheep ranch to manage, in one of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world.

 I have letters written by my grandmother to her sister in Ireland mentioning " of bands of bandits that would come down from their hide outs in the foot hills of the Andes and raid the "estancias"& "Funda"s stealing their horses and valuables, kidnapping the managers and holding them for ransom" -

Dad tells the story  : "How his mother would put both the children out in the sun in their prams or cots and put a steel mesh cage over them so they would not be taken away by the Condor Eagles"

These tales and others  my father regaled me with as a young boy instilled at an early age the love for travel and adventure.

My grandmother decided to return to England where she remarried and my father and his brother were brought up and educated in well off circumstances.

These stories fascinated me from an early age, nurturing my desire to visit South America. Lyn was like minded and we started our plans to do most of the countries through South America, then to Africa and eventually back home to "the Land of the Roo" to introduce Lyn to my parents in Sydney.

As I had been in San Francisco for the past two years I had  contacts at most of the foreign consulates, and my intention was to obtain diplomatic visas in all the countries we decided to travel through. This would take time and also gave me the opportunity to get a bank together.Work would not be an option  until I arrived in South Africa, so it meant saving sufficient funds for living and travelling and also we had to make travel arrangements to get from Rio De Janeiro across to Cape Town.

San Francisco was expensive as we had adjusted to an easy spending lifestyle and their were plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes we frequented."Perry's" in Union Street was one of my favourites in the Marina District owned by Perry Butler it became an instant haunt due mainly to it's front bar.But those times were over and spending had to be tempered to finance a trip which would take some five months.

No comments:

Post a Comment