The news from your’s truly is that today I finally was able to go back to work, after about 5 days of on-and-off fever and chills. It sure feels good to be almost normal (coughing and weakness is fine by me compared to that other stuff). Unfortunately, during my retreat into a fetal position under the blankets, I missed about 5 days of sunshine, or so they tell me. Never saw any of it. So much for any Vitamin D that doesn’t come out of a bottle…
Anyway, at least Pam wasn’t here to have to hear me whining about how crappy I felt. The news from her is quite a bit more interesting and far more uplifting:
We’re all back inside after a morning of seeing and smelling Gentoo and Adelie penguin colonies on Petermann Island. We had to tread very carefully as the little guys blend in with the rocks. Fortunately guides were placed next to chicks sleeping on the path. As we knelt to take their pictures, some curious chicks approached to nibble on camera straps. At some point you don’t take pictures but just have to take a breath and stand in awe in the quiet, majestic, surroundings.
Today’s snow got everyone in the mood for exploring, but after the crew planned a festive BBQ on the pool-deck, we had other ideas. Entertainment was provided by a band and passengers willing to dance in the slush (including me), and then an impromptu snowball fight broke out and everyone, including the captain, were on deck as some point.
Outside temperature is about 39°F/4°C. The red Explorer jackets are quite warm, as are the insulated rubber boots. It’s a good thing they are waterproof, as we have to step in “decontamination” buckets before and after leaving the ship and zodiac rafts.
Just moments after everyone came in from lunch festivities, and as the crew was breaking down, the ship suddenly rocked, hard. Chairs tipped over and there was a loud crash from the kitchen followed by another crash on the return wave. The captain has turned off the stabilizers as they also slow the ship and having them off is better for navigating around ice. He’s announced that as of an hour ago, we’ve come farther south in this ship than ever before because of the good weather and relatively ice-free conditions. We’re actually now less than 6 hours sail from the Antarctic circle. Although we’re not planning to cross, it’s exciting to have come so close to that point on the Earth.
Yesterday evening (after 2 landings and a zodiac cruise past ice shelves 40 metres high) we started heading through the Lemaire channel. The Channel is in every guide book of Antarctica. A National Geographic ship was in the area and we watched it disappear thru a tiny speck of an opening off in the distance. At around 22:00 the captain invited everyone up to the bridge as we slipped through the passage. With shear mountains on either side, and glaciers, which could have spilled off at any moment perched atop them, we glided into the opening and away from the sunset. The captain got a round of applause; it was an unforgettable moment. Many people have been moved to tears, (me included), by the astounding beauty of the scene.
Pam goes on to say that her next message will come on the sail back toward Tierra del Fuego.
Here’s the kind of picture those guide books of Antarctica have of the Lemaire Channel: