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Published: February 14th 2012
After rounding the Horn and thereby becoming “Masters of the Seven Seas,” we made our first stop in Argentina at Ushuaia which is also the Capital of the Malvinas. Ushuaia is the southern-most city in the world and its name means the End of the World. The town started out as a prison colony and has grown into a thriving business center with fish processing and computer assembly plants ringing the Beagle Channel. The Malvinas include the disputed Falklands Islands. Argentina still hopes to “free” the Falklands from what they consider the British Imperialists. Right now there are protests and port blockages by Argentinians because of increased tensions between the two countries. Fortunately the Mariner does not fly a Union Jack.
One thing we have found in traveling around the very Catholic countries of South America is that Sundays are pretty quiet affairs. Not too much is open other than tourist shops and restaurants. We booked a tour into the magnificent countryside with its soaring mountains and alpine lakes. We took the Pan American Highway from its southern terminus north. A traditional parrilla lunch was served at a country inn which was quite excellent. Whole lambs are roasted around an
open fire pit and served family style along with roasted potatoes. This family owned restaurant also offers dogsled rides in the winter.
Our evening departure was delayed when officials closed the port due to high winds. But eventually we were able to make our way out and then settle in for a night of football. There was a super Super Bowl party in the theater with the game being shown on the big screen and a full array of American football food offerings. We got into the football pool and ended up winning the third quarter for a cool $250. A pretty good game considering the 49ers weren’t in it.
The ride out to the Falklands was pretty bumpy so we were not surprised when we arrived and the announcement was made by Captain Patruno that we would not be able to go ashore. He explained that they tried twice to set the anchor and both times the ship dragged anchor. Since this is a long ride into port, conditions have to be pretty settled in order to send off 600 passengers in tenders. Terry Breen told us about a situation several years ago when hundreds of passengers
got stranded in Port Stanley for two days when tendering became impossible due to sudden high winds. The only way this small village of 2000 could accommodate that many visitors was to put them up in their homes, churches and schools. We heard that a few passengers spent the night in a pub---maybe to drown their sorrows.
We were very sorry miss Port Stanley. The wildlife there is extraordinary with many different types of penguins, whales, dolphins and sea birds. The Captain cruised around the bay for a while so that we could get a glimpse of Port Stanley and we even saw some penguin colonies and a few whales. I guess I’ll have to have tea with Prince Will some other time.
We spent the next two days at sea bumping up the coast of Argentina. The best part is that we are heading towards warmer weather. It has been pretty cool to cold since we arrived in Ecuador almost a month ago so we are very happy to be going north to the tropics. I am reading a book right now entitled “The Wave” by Susan Casey. It is a factual account of some of the
11 lambs for lunch
largest waves ever recorded. We knew the captain who was in command when a 95’ wave struck the QM2 about 15 years ago. Captain Warwick said of his encounter with the looming wall of water, “It looked as though the ship was heading straight for the White Cliffs of Dover.” But that was a wavelet compared to a tsunami which struck Lituya Bay in Alaska on July 9, 1958. That monster was measured at 1,740 feet. I can’t even imagine such a thing. This book is great reading especially as we plow through the South Atlantic Ocean---an area infamous for its challenging seas.
Puerto Madryn is a beach town about halfway up the coast of Argentina. It is primarily known for its sea life and has the largest penguin colony in the world. After three days at sea we decided to stretch our legs on solid ground. Madryn has a long esplanade around its crescent beach and is a pleasant place to take a stroll. We were surprised that it was still so cool and windy this far north. Upon departure the ship was hit by a sudden 50mph gust of wind and glanced off a piling causing some
minor damage to the stern. As we learned, the weather is especially unpredictable around these parts.
It's that time of year again...Kevin's birthday at sea. Since it was also the farewell party for the guests departing in Buenos Aires, it was a formal night. So we got all gussied up, and joined Captain Patruno, Terry Breen and George and Duffy for a birthday dinner party. George's birth date is also Feb 10 and we have celebrated their mutual birthdays for the past five years.
We have been on the ship for five weeks and have another five to go on this circumnavigation of South America. The time is flying by much too quickly.
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