The days we spend in Antarctica proceed with wonder and leisure combined with routine and process; there´s the cheerful wakeup call followed by breakfast in the dining room. Though first a trip to the lounge for a decent cup a joe, as the machine dispensed version there is far better than that served in the dining room. The routine then entails suiting up in layers of warm, wind & waterproof clothing topped off with the Zodiac lifejackets ( a lighter version than the standard for ship evacuations). Excursion to land for penguins, birds, seals, ice, and other wondrousrous sights. Back to ship for lunch, and then an afternoon return to the mainland, or an island, or a Zodiac cruise amongst the icebergs and open bays for up close encounters with humpback whales. The ship´s crew informs us one day that we will have the opportunity to ¨take the plunge¨. Lidia and I do so. It entails reducing one´s attire to bathing suit and going into the water from the shore; and one must immerse one´s self completely. Going into the water was not that cold surprisingly; even though water temp was about 28 degrees ! Swimming a bit ( maybe 5 seconds in all honesty) was also not too bad. Walking back out was where the pain became VERY evident. With every step your feet feel like they are being smashed with a hammer and repeatedly stabbed with multiple knives and icepicks !! Once on shore your only thought is how much your feet hurt. Once warmed a bit with a dry towel and some vigorous rubbing, you really don´t feel that cold, even with only swimming trunks; I guess after 28 degree water, 34 degree air feels downright balmy. Cary (the banker/lawyer who doubles as a DJ) saved our dancing night by helping the staff assemble a music mix that led to the creation of the internationally famous new dance - ´Doin´the Penguin´. Memories - Aerobatic airborne ballet of 30 kilo 3 meter wingspan albatross dancing with the wind and waves in an Antarctic Tango. Clumsy, stumbling, waddling tuxedo-clad flightless bird gracefully, tenaciously leaping to heights unimaginable. Blue ice floating, the condensation of sky and water, lit by the backroom sun. Fishguts and seaweed penguin rookery potpourri. Humpback whales fifteen feet away resonating a redefinition of an exhalation. These images, sights, sounds, and experiences are indelibly etched for all time. As are the memories of those with whom they were shared, nay created. Thank you Elizabeth, Cary, Fritz, Brent & Lex
Ciao for now
Oh, I forgot about the Lesson from Mother - While visiting the U.K. museum at Port Lockroy, in itself interesting, watched a ´Nature at her best´moment performed live. Skua arrogantly standing by a path near the museum. A Gentoo penguin is waddling up the path and stops near the skua. This lasts a few motionless minutes; adversaries seperated by 18 inches. In a flash the usually victimized penguin lashes out with pointed beak and strikes deadcenter in the chest of one startled backwards flappimg skua. Like they say - Payback is a Bird !