My trip to Antarctica did not start out well. I had a couple hour layover in Miami. About a half hour before my flight left Miami I got the stomach flu. Throwing up in an airplane bathroom on an eight hour flight is not a good time. We landed in Buenos Aires early in the morning and I spent the day in the Hotel room. I was feeling better around dinner time (well dinner time here in the states) and went out to find dinner. I found a nice looking restaurant and asked when the would open. They didn't even open until 8 P.M. and it was only around 5 P.M. I ended up eating a very expensive ham sandwich in the hotel bar.
The next day we went to a Gaucho ranch. We got to ride horses on Argentinean saddles. They look like they are made out of lama skin. Extremely soft and comfortable. It is very weird to be able to fell the horse move through the saddle. We were served a bar-b-que dinner and watched some traditional dances afterward. (One of the performers was the ugliest women I have ever seen.)
From Buenos Aires we went to Ushuaia. This is the southern most city in the world (not to be confused with the southernmost town which is a little further south). This is not a place I would want to live. Not because of anything wrong with the city itself, but it was snowing on the first day of summer. Winter must be a real treat.
After a couple days of exploring around Ushuaia we boarded our boat and headed out across the Drake Passage. It takes two days to sail across to Antarctica and 25 foot seas made it anything but enjoyable. Most of the passengers were sea sick including me. My father sailed through just fine. He was in the Canadian Navy during World War II and claims he has never been sea sick. He also believes that sea sickness is more mental than physical. He may be right but my mind can not control my stomach.
Antarctica is beautiful, rugged country. We sailed through one channel that was full of icebergs. I was laying in my bunk and I kept hearing a strange noise. It sounded like we were sailing into chunks of ice. I went up on deck only too discover we were. It was around midnight, but it was still light out. All around us was some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The roll of film I shot there was my favorite of the whole trip. Unfortunately I misplaced it and I haven't been able to find it, though I have looked for it many times. There is really no way to describe what it was like. It is just something you have to experience.
We spent four days going from penguin rookery to penguin rookery. Penguins make nests out of small rocks. You would think from watching them that there was a shortage of rocks. They are constantly stealing rocks from each others nests. Personally I think they just don't want to go very far to get their rocks. There are more than enough to go around but it is easier to grab one from a neighboring nest. They keep their eggs warm by cradling them between their feet and their belly. This is probably the real reason they steal the rocks. They don't want to leave their eggs or chicks unattended.
Penguins also don't go very far to, how shall I put this, relieve themselves. They just raise their posteriors and let fly. As a result their nests tend to look like the spin art you made as a kid. (You know. Where you put a card in a machine that spins it around and you squirt paint on it.) The penguins themselves also get stripped by their neighbors. Speaking of which, penguin rookeries are not the most pleasant smelling places.
In addition to the penguins we also saw numerous sea birds, some seals and a couple whales. I was hoping to see more whales. I had seen many humpbacks in Alaska and thought I would see them here too. As I am writing this I have finally realized why that was unlikely. The water is probably too fresh. All the glaciers and icebergs melting. Even in Alaska you don't see many whales in water surrounded by glaciers.
Two more days back across the Drake Passage. The seas are calmer and I only feel queasy on the way back. Then a long flight home and the trip is over.
Company: Overseas Adventure Travel 1-800-955-1925
Length: 14 Days (Including flight time)
(OAT worked with Marine Expeditions to provide the cruise.
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