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Published: February 6th 2009
I haven't been posting lately because I really wanted to be able to add pictures to these entries, but i don't think I'm going to have that kind of internet access until I'm home, and you guys probably don't want to wait that long. So I'm going to start posting the entries I wrote months ago and saved for when I could post pictures. But I'm abandoning the pictures for now.
This entry was written on my first visit to Antarctica toward the end of December.
I’m skipping a couple of destinations, because I think Antarctica trumps every other port I’ve been to. I’ll go back and cover the rest of Europe, the Caribbean, and the Western side of South America, but for now Anarctica is on my mind. It seems appropriate so close to Christmas and all.
The waters get rough and we are only promised of the possibility that they will get rougher. The air outside is freezing and I pretty much have to wear five layers just to go out to snap a few pictures, and if I go out on the bow that’s about 5 minutes worth of warmth before I lose feeling in
my toes. It wouldn’t be so bad had I been able to pack for cold weather, but when I packed for this contract, I was trying to fit clothing for Europe, the Carribean, South America and Antarctica into just two suitcases, and winter clothing doesn’t exactly leave room for other options. I do wish I’d brought a scarf or two though—seeing as I never wear them in LA and yet they never seem to travel with me when I do end up in colder climates. So when we hit our first really cold port, Ushuaia, Argentina (El Fin Del Mundo as all the merchandise states), I went on a hunt for winter accessories. I couldn’t find any gloves or scarves, so I bought three hats (it seemed to make perfect sense at the time). My friend actually did manage to find me some gloves that weren’t super duty ski gloves, so at least I have something for my hands—although it doesn’t exactly make hitting the buttons on my camera any easier.
So our first pass by in Antarctica was Palmer Station. It’s the smallest US research station on Antarctica and holds about 40 research scientists—a lot of which are
grad students, and if anyone was wondering where all the cute dorky guys disappeared too, apparently there’s quite a few doing research in Antarctica (figures). We had a few of the people from the station come on board and give a lecture. Oddly enough, it seems working in an Antarctic research facility is a lot like working on a cruise ship. Both are exercises in depravity that last on average about six months. Although, cruise ship work is a bit more ironic because we’re surrounded by luxuries that we aren’t allowed to take advantage of. Research scientists are just depraved. A visit from a passing cruise ship is like Christmas.
I spent the rest of the day walking from the front of the ship to the back of the ship trying to get as many decent pictures of the land as possible. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of the ice and mountains, and icebergs. I saw penguins swimming in the water but they were too fast and too far away to capture with my camera. I felt ill prepared with my dinky little digital camera next to the hobby photographers with their super zoom lenses. They could actually
see the penguins gathered up on the land. It was too far to see with the naked eye. But it was really cool to see the teams of penguins swimming near the ship. They popped out of the water like dolphins in cascades. I swear they were showing off for us. Maybe a visiting cruise ship is like Christmas for them as well. It might make the hunting easier—confusing the krill and all with our massive propellers displacing all the water.
I also saw a humpback whale way off in the distance, but the penguins were much more exciting. The rest of the time was spent staring at ice. I couldn’t really stop staring and there always seemed to be a new picture to take. It was reminiscent of when I went to the Coliseum, only millions of years older and much larger. I wish I could’ve stayed out there all day but I couldn’t feel my face. I had to thaw.
It was also snowing most of the afternoon outside. I find it funny that I’m not used to feeling these kinds of winter temperatures in the winter. The thought of snow so close to Christmas is
weird to me. This will be my first White Christmas and I’m spending it in Antarctica. And actually, I can honestly say that snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes is a pretty cool sensation and rightly deserves to be one of Julie Andrews’ favorite things.
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