Published: December 17th 2010
December 17th 2010
Latest photos from the past week here for you to see http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=310762&id=691995235&l=6ea8780813 .
Well, the day has come. After 1 week of chillin´ at the End of the World (El fin del Mundo), in an hour I board my boat...the Polar Pioneer (http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/ships/polar-pioneer ) to take me out to the open seas through the Beagle Channel and then where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans combine, through the stormy Drake Passage and onto the Antarctic Peninsula – a white wilderness.
The weather is sunny and calm today and the winds not dramatic which suits me fine. I still shall be dosing myself up to the hilt with the strong Stugeron anti travel seasickness pills I have bought. The ocean is a fickle creature and having seen the Clelia II at the mercy of her waves and heard stories from passengers on a ferry that came into port, Im taking no chances in the vomiting stakes.
To give you a little context, a few days ago the winds were up to 200kph and the waves were 30m, according to a ferry captain who has been a sailor for 27 years…the worst conditions he has ever witnessed. Fellow Kumuka passengers who had onward trips booked were kept in the harbour as the waters were too rough to depart and a mammoth Dutch cruise liner was unable to arrive safely.
I cannot emphasise how nervous I was getting knowing my propensity to travel sickness but with the ´fuerte´(strong) cinnazarine pills I hope Ill just be knocked out as we cross the choppy bits. I managed the swell when I went shark cage diving in South Africa earlier this year (only person not to chunder on the boat!) and just about managed a week sailing in the Galapagos Islands last year so I will not let the meteorological maliciousness of Tierra del Fuego beat me. I have penguins to visit and ice to camp on…..eeek!
So, as a taster of the next 11 days, here is the itinerary http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/expedition/antarctic-peninsula then click on Itinerary tab to see a day by day calendar.
So since my last blog update I have managed to combine slothlike lethargy with dramatic riding and hiking in the National Park of Tierra del Fuego.
Ushuaia is a very odd place! It caters both to the Antarctic tourists that come through its streets in the summer with the arrival or departure of a boat whilst in the winter, it becomes a skiing centre and South Americans flock to the pistes. Arranged in a gridlike system congregating around the shoreline and focusing on the harbour, the horizontal streets bisect the 45 degree angle vertical streets and on most days when its raining or snowing, the water runs in rivulets down the roads. A few days ago the rain and wind was so relentless it seemed as though a tsunami of water was going to come cascading down from the salt and pepper capped mountains which rise up in a dramatic fashion behind the town. A few kms upwards takes you to views of the Beagle Channel and the archipelagos of Chile and Argentina.
I have been holed up in a lovely hostal for 1 week…a very relaxed place full of international travellers - weary, weather beaten climbers, enthusiastic Patagonian adventurers and bearded Antarctic voyagers. I have been the only English person resident but the vibe was so relaxed have met some fabulous Swiss, German and Dutch travellers and my facebook friends just keep on growing.
The residents of Ushuaia on the other hand are a strange breed. I have never come across such a physically unattractive race of humans. They have an air of inbreeding and genetic cross fertilisation amongst them. Darwin described his first meeting with the native Fuegians as being "without exception the most curious and interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilised man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, in as much as in man there is a greater power of improvement."
All I can add to that is that these people look like vampires….!! Think of the film The Lost Boys and youll have in you minds eye the look of the current Fuegians. Pallid bad skin with untidy wind lashed dark hair. Most of residents under 30 have some sort of facial piercing which gapes from their almost ashen faces. It is really quite unimaginable how deeply unattractive the people are. They seem to be a different breed entirely from the gorgeousness of many Argentineans. I have been quite perturbed by the incredible hideousness and my dreams of night have been disturbing…Im not joking!
Anyway, I have to make tracks now…I need to make a quick dash to the supermarket to stock up on the liquor version of Dulce de Leche...a 16 peso (that’s about 2.50pounds) bottle of liquid nectar - damaging to not only the waistline but the liver as well. LOL I first discovered dulce de leche in Argentina last year and became, quite simply addicted. Caramalised condensed milk…yummy yummy! To then discover this mellifluous delight is available in alcoholic form…well, I am a happy bunny and if the sea sickness pills don’t work, at least Ill go down with a smile on my face!
Have a simply brilliant Xmas!!! I am an extremely lucky lady to be in Antarctica for Xmas and a big thank you out to Emma for giving me a good deal. Last minute places are still going on the streets of Ushuaia….Antarctica is the only continent I have not yet visited so this is a big tick on the passport list of stamps!
Enjoy the photos from Tierra del Fuego – Land of Fire and as they say in these parts…..Feliz Navidad !