A long time ago I went on a trip to Antarctica. It was such a wondrous place. I loved it!
Our first stop was Argentina. We saw many beautiful sites including tango dancers and ate at a restaurant famous for its steak called Las Nazarenas where the steak was cooked over a fire on skewers. I loved the beef empanadas and ice cream (another thing that Argentina is famous for). Then, we visited a beautiful cemetery.
Next, we traveled to Ushuaia. There, we saw many beautiful plants and a lake made from glacial water.
Later that evening we boarded our ship, “The Sea Adventurer”. This ship was a Russian fishing ship that was converted for use for expeditions like ours in Antarctica. It was not a luxury cruise ship, but was made to break through ice.
After we set sail, I became a little sea sick, but recovering after being on the ship for a day. I liked being there and enjoyed being rocked to sleep by the waves.
On our voyage we saw many beautiful sites including, icebergs, whales, penguins, all kinds of birds, and an albatross crashed into our deck. Peter, the bird watching scientist on board, caught it and told us all kinds of interesting things about it. Legend has it that when you see an albatross at sea, it is the spirit of dead sailors that were lost at sea watching over you.
Our first stop was the Falkland Islands. We saw many more penguins there and learned a lot of things. I learned that Earth was said to have been wrongly named Earth and that some people believed that it should have been named Vita (life) instead. I also learned that the “green flash” at sunset is real and that the winds in Antarctica go all the way around the pole. Therefore, if you spit into the wind in Antarctica, the moisture in your spit could go all the way around the world. I learned that bioluminescent diatoms can attach themselves to dolphins and make them sparkle, and found the Southern cross in the sky even though the sun does not fully set in Antarctica during the summer.
Our next stop was South Georgia Island where we saw a nest of the albatrosses and Sir Earnest Shackelton’s (a famous English Antarctic explorer) grave and a whaling station. We also saw many birds, penguins, cute seals, many interesting things in the museum, I got to touch an iceberg, and we went hiking in the mountains while singing, “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music”! My husband came up with the idea to sing that song while running down the side of the mountain.
Below a is a list of all if the wonderful wildlife and nature that we encountered:
Fur seal pups
Skua eating remains of a dead animal
Blond fur seal pup
Penguin pellet with squid beaks and green seaweed in it.
The next few days after that were at sea. We crossed the Drake Passage, a place famous for having the worst weather conditions on earth, and as luck would have it, we were caught in a cyclone. Traveling along with us were big cruise ships that did not make it through the storm. One ship was pushed backwards and could not continue to Antarctica. The other ship had a huge wave crash through the bridge that knocked the window out, injured the captain, and caused another lady to have broken ribs and a bleeding head. Our ship creaked and was tossed about in the ocean. Things kept falling over off of tables and it sounded like the ship was haunted by poltergeists. I was sea sick the whole time so I took some sea sickness medicine that made me fall asleep.
I developed a great admiration for the kitchen staff and their ability to cook and serve food to so many (also sea sick) passengers during the cyclone. They were very friendly and I enjoyed listening to one of the servers tell me about how she received her topaz, fairy, earrings from a nun in a convent in Argentina who said that they represented a saint.
Once the tempest had gone, we landed on Elephant Island where saw a vicious penguin fight. Penguins are very aggressive when they fight. They chased each other down, slapped each other as hard as they could with their flippers, pinned each other down, then started ripping out each other’s feathers with their beak. They were strong too!
After seeing the penguins fight, Steven, my sweet, romantic, husband brought a snowball to me that he retrieved from the top of the volcano so I could taste Antarctic snow. The snow was clean and a bunch of people tried it.
Next, we crashed into solidified sea ice with our ship and saw a lot of cute, seals.
On the following day, we stopped on Deception island where we visited Whaler’s Bay, hiked up to Neptune’s Window, found a sea butterfly, and went swimming in a caldera. The water in the caldera was freezing (because it was from the Southern Ocean) at first, but not so bad after getting used to it, but we were still not allowed to stay in it very long.
We spent a few more days at sea after visiting Deception Island. We saw orcas, leopard seals, beautiful glowing glaciers, and listened to Shirley Mets tell her story of how she became the first woman to ski to the South Pole. Then, I learned that storm petrels are nocturnal and sound like gremlins in a flock and that Peter Harrison (the bird biologist) discovered a new species of storm petrel and named it Oceanites Pincoyae after a beautiful Chilean Sea Goddess.
Wildlife that we observed while at sea this time included Type B Orcas and a Leapord Seal.
Next, we visited a few more islands and, finally, reached the continent of Antarctica. Antarctica was full of snow and ice, but there was also much more green and color than I originally expected to see. Lichens were everywhere along with penguins and seals. It was beautiful! It’s beauty has been described before as heavenly and it did, indeed, look like a sparkling, heavenly place.
It’s amazing that, even in a place that is as beautiful, yet, inhospitable as Antarctica that life can abound. I believe that the idea that the earth was improperly named is right. In a cold and indifferent universe, Earth would be better named Vita because, to our knowledge at this time, life abounds.
The journey back to Argentina through the Drake Passage was good. We were fortunate to have pleasant weather the whole way and ended up having a fun barbeque on deck and a chocolate party while spending our time with the other adventurers on board. I learned how a proper Congo line is done, that we saw almost 600 – 700 thousand penguins total, climate change is really affecting the glaciers, that the English say, “The difference between an ordeal and adventure is attitude.”, that life is not about being the best, but doing your best, and my life is my own. I am now an adventurer and am so glad that I went on this expedition. It truly was a life changing experience.