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The Old Patagonian Express

The Old Patagonian Express is a written account of a journey taken by novelist Paul Theroux. Starting out from his home town in Massachusetts, via Boston and Chicago, Theroux travels by train across the North American plains to Laredo, Texas, he crosses the border and takes a train south through Mexico to Veracruz where he meets a woman looking for her long-lost lover. He takes the train south into Guatemala and El Salvador where he goes to a soccer match and is amazed by the violence, he flies to Costa Rica where he takes the train to Limón and Puntarenas. He ended his transit of Central America in Panama where he takes the short train ride across the isthmus. Theroux proceeds to Colombia and over the Andes and reaches the small town of Esquel in Patagonia, he endures harsh climates, including the extreme altitude of Peru and the Bolivian Plateau, meets the author Jorge Luis Borges in Buenos Aires and is reunited with long lost family in Ecuador. The book has been praised for its depth and understanding about the people, the culture, giving a flavor of the various South American countries.

The Old Patagonian Express

Kandersteg International Scout Centre

The Kandersteg International Scout Centre is an international Scout centre in Kandersteg, Switzerland. The centre provides lodges and campsites covering 17 hectares of land, it is open to Scouts year round, as well as to non-Scouts for most of the year. More than 11,000 young people from over 50 different countries visit the centre every yearKISC is the World Organization of the Scout Movement's World Scout Centre. In 1921 the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walther von Bonstetten, visited Kandersteg on holiday and found an old empty chalet, it was built in 1908 to house the construction workers for the Lötschberg Tunnel. In 1913, when the tunnel was finished, the chalet was left unused by the railway company. Von Bonstetten felt that this location could be the permanent international meeting place that Robert Baden-Powell had in mind where Scouts from all over the world could meet. Von Bonstetten wrote to him to let him know; the response was positive and on 12 February 1923 the Scouts International Home Association was set up.

In 1930 Baden-Powell visited the site himself. Up to current times, the site has continuously been augmented, with the first national room,'the Dutch room' in 1927, the purchase of additional land in 1929. During World War II, the centre was used to house French soldiers interned for the war. In the 1950s more property was purchased, including the woods by the river Kander, the centre began to open in the wintertime; the centre was renamed Kandersteg International Scout Centre in 1977. In the 1980s, new campsites were created, together with extra toilet facilities, although the centre went through a difficult time financially. In 1994, the International Scout Centre Foundation, Kandersteg was established, work started on the chalet extension project which opened on 1 June 1996. On December 2002, the top floor of the New Chalet was finished, completing the chalet extension, followed by new bathroom renovations two years later. In 2009, the centre opened a new accommodation building named Kander-Lodge, purchased the neighbouring building and renovated the ground floor of the Old Chalet.

The small, traditional Swiss village of Kandersteg is situated at 1,200 metres above sea level, 65 kilometres south of Bern, in the canton of Bern, near the Lötschenpass and the Gemmipass. The village is known for exploring the Swiss Alps. Kandersteg can be reached by road and rail: it is situated on the main railway line from the north to Italy, the station is served by fast trains; the Scout Centre is at the southern end of the village. During high season, a regular bus runs from the local railway station; the central part of the centre is the chalet, which consists of two parts, the Old Chalet and the New Chalet. This building houses offices, as well as facilities for guests; the completion of the extension in 1996 increased its size, it has full central heating, modern sanitary facilities with constant hot water, a souvenir shop, meeting rooms, postal service, public telephones, a coffee bar, a laundry, a first aid room and internet facilities. There are five equipped electric kitchens available for use.

The Chalet is open all year round and is run along much the same lines as most Youth Hostels, with an emphasis on community life and cooperation. Guests help to clean the building; the Chalet is decorated with scarves and plaques from guests, as well as photos and badges showing the worldwide family of Scouting. The Old Chalet provides accommodation for 172 people in 23 rooms, each with between 22 beds. Most rooms have chairs, providing a living area; the rooms are named after National Scout Organizations or Scout Regions that have helped with renovating and decorating the room. The New Chalet provides new staff accommodation, meeting rooms and upgraded accommodation for 27 people in nine triple -bedded bedrooms available outside the summer season; the campsite can accommodate up to 1,400 persons on more than 60 different sites. On average during the summer, the site has around 750 guests at a time. While close to other groups, each group can be sure of their own campsite, ensuring both an international atmosphere and privacy.

The sites have running water nearby and there are toilets and showers with hot water close at hand, which the visiting groups help to look after during their stay. There is a shop open on the campsite during the summer and a campsite office, open most of the time. There is a drying room and multiple picnic and barbecue facilities; the campsite was wasteland from the construction of the tunnel, so several sites are rocky. The railway runs close to some of the sites, so it can be noisy at times; the Tower was the power station when the railway was built and now has two parts: the tower itself and the Lötschberghaus. In total there is accommodation for 57 people - four rooms with 12 beds in the Lötschberghaus and a newly renovated room with nine beds in the tower. Facilities include full toilet and shower facilities for boys and girls, a equipped electric kitchen and a big living room with an open fireplace and balcony. On the other side of the river Kander is the Kander Lodge, it has eighteen simple 2-bed rooms with shared bathrooms.

The building has dining room, living room and meeting room. The building was erected in the nearby village of Mitholz, in recent decades used as office and exhibition space for the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. In 2008, after the tunnel was opened, the lodge was moved from Mitholz to its current