Sunday, June 18, 2017

Antarctica


I've never been a fan of Anthony Bordain's Parts Unknown series.  The food he raves about sounds barely edible, so I rarely watch.  But when I saw trailers of his trip to Antarctica, I knew I would tune in.  I wondered what he would eat there because for sure there are no restaurants in Antarctica.  So what would it be--penguin sandwiches< seal steak?  I couldn't wait to find out.

He visited most of the bases there and I learned that fresh food was flown in.  Pretty good but nothing as exotic as Bordain's usual fare.  He visited the actual pole--exciting.

For years, visiting Antarctica was #1 on my bucket list.  The far away icy land appealed to me, and for years I suggested to my husband that we do an Antarctic cruise, and for years he would reply, "Next year."  Finally, in 2001 I insisted it was now or never.  So we scheduled a trip on the Marco Polo for January 2002.  I was super-elated.

We bought ski masks, heavy gloves, silk underwear, thick socks.  I borrowed a pair of boots from a cousin.  We bought wrist bands with vibrators to ward off seasickness.  I read the travel book from cover to cover.  Finally we were on our way.

We met our group in Miami, all of us crowding into a conference room.  Most of the people seemed friendly and interesting.  Everyone but one lady expressed their excitement about the cruise.  She said, with a mixture of boredom and condescension , "This will be my seventh continent."  If we were supposed to be impressed, I wasn't.

We flew to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.  We strolled along the oceanfront and came upon a store selling every kind of fudge you can imagine.  I don't eat chocolate--it triggers migraine--but I could certainly enjoy the chocolate smell.

On our ship we did the usual lifeboat drill, unpacked, ate dinner and headed out to sea.  Each day there were lectures about history, sea birds, penguins, science--all very interesting.  The ship gave out thick orange parkas.  Mine was too big but we eventually got that straightened out.  On deck we watched albatross flying above us.  They are huge.

Our first landing, on Deception Island, was cancelled because of high winds but our second, not a landing but a Zodiac cruise, at Courverville, was great fun.  We watched the gentoo penguins--adorable but smelly.  We saw them stretching their necks, expanding their chests like bellows  and squealing when they were excited or maybe just showing off for the tourists, watched them slide into the water.  Icebergs were all around.  It felt like another world.

That night several British scientists from Port Lockery told about their primitive living conditions.  The next day at Paradise Bay we saw more penguins, glaciers, icebergs (some at least 100,000 years old)  We saw a Weddell seal sleeping on shore.  Later, back on board, we passed a large whale.
At Half Moon Bay we saw chinstrap penguins--sooo cute but also quite smelly.  That was our final landing, and soon the ship was heading north across the Drake Passage.  The trip south was pleasant but the return was miserable.  The ship rocked constantly and you felt as if something was pressing down on your head.  Once we rounded Cape Horn, the water was smooth again.  What a relief.

In Ushuaia we visited the park where we saw the end of the Pan American Highway.  Soon we were on our way back home.  That was one of the most memorable trips of my life.


1 comments:

Linda Steinberg said... [Reply to comment]

'Cool' post. I didn't know you'd been to Antarctica. So glad you got to do it with Ralph.

 

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