Today – USHUAIA, Argentina. Was awakened by the cheery announcer at 0700 local, and 22 minutes later I have retrieved two cups of coffee from the opposite end of the ship one deck below. There was quite a line, but they were not the coffee onlys, and so I am back in the cabin with a gorgeous view out the window, but the window is presently too dirty for a photo. So I have about an hour and a half to prepare and photo and gps fix etc. Weather is 9 degrees Celsius, which I think is the forties somewhere.
OK – it is now just eight am. Twice I have added the 2 hrs to my watch mentally, and then added an additional two and thought I missed ‘the boat’ as it were. Wearing jeans and the sandles with freshly laundered underwear, long sleeved white turtleneck and the hooded sweatshirt, and taking the Chile jacket. Down to one roll of lifesavers, but have loads of peppermint patties for along the way. God, the weather is sensational, and Antarctica is now TOMORROW. Am really psyched, but also content to enjoy the utter beauty that is Ushuaia while I am here. We do glacier cruising this afternoon. Also caught a bird [photo] in the swimming pool which is possibly an albatross.
By eschewing the elevator, I made it onto the bus amongst the first and this time I got a decent seat without curtains blocking. By the way, I think it was returning from the Valdez Peninsula that soldiers boarded the bus and they looked underneath with the mirror on the handle. No such today. The sun was bright and it was nearly cloudless as I boarded the bus and we headed for a barn with dirt floor and straw on it, heated by a barn heater, but with some decent coffee, some pastries which I ate and a show put on by 12 dancers – six of each, in lovely traditional costumes, boots for the men and flowing dresses and tango pumps for the ladies.
. Following the gaucho stamping and thumping balls on the floor attached to ropes, we boarded the bus and drove to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park where we disembarked and walked by a bay which looked like a lake which looked like a webshot I have of Lake McDonald in Montana. Bathrooms were available everywhere, and the weather remained decent, although around about now, we lost the sun and by the time we were back to the ship, it was indeed overcast and cloudy.
Our guide was Tamico and she was, as were all the others, decent. There was a marathon being run and zillions of cops partout, but no patchy swapee, because we had chop chop back to boatee real quick like. It may be the end of the world, and a sign says that it is, but that didn’t prevent a cell phone from ringing.
The train ride was next, a reproduction of the one which the convicts used to use to do their logging as they built their own jail in yon days of yore, which extended up to 1947 when it became overcrowded and is now a museum which we didn’t have time to see. Several of the guides were in striped clothes and the announcements aboard the train seemed to me to be very very sympathetic to the poor prisoners who had to spend time here.
I had a good seat by the door in the last coach on starboard, and the guy beside me opened the small windows so we each got a few shots without the glass. The train stopped at a little waterfall and I huffed my way up with my peers, and angel falls it warn’t. Back on the train, some nice photos of the station, back onto the bus and back to Ushuaia, where taxes and rents are very low, but the winters are very long. I was particularly struck by the quality of the air, which was some of the freshest and nicest smelling I can remember in eons. Our guide says that two hundred dollars is high rent for a house. Although I didn’t say so out loud, we could have used more than six hours in this place, as it is very lovely and I would have enjoyed walking around a bit. There was the first line to board that I have seen this trip, reminiscent of the boarding experience on the ecstasy, and the loudspeakers from town announcing the people coming in from their marathon. In front of us was a large ship going to the Antarctic, and there were two smaller ones in the harbor as we left, and I have very mixed feelings while watching them, as, although the captain has said the wx tomorrow is going to be fine, it has now clouded over and some of the peaks along the Beagle channel are shrouded in clouds and fog.
And some are not. I am currently sitting in my stateroom with a plate full of potato chips which someone suggested room service has, and I so ordered., fresh ice in the water, and beautiful views out the window over top of the lifeboat of mountains going by and a lovely bow shot on the tv with decent music now.
Once back aboard, I went straight to the outside on deck seven and watched the gangway being stowed, lines cast off and coiled on the deck, started the gps trip thing and stayed in front of a hot air vent till we were well away from Ushuaia and had turned back into the Beagle Channel again, on our way to Chili and hopefully beyond., and then I went to lunch and had French fries and skipped the ice cream. There was a place by Bahai Encinada to have passports stamped, but they must not have done much of a business with us today, and I still miss having that, although am glad to have seen it and some of the stamps in it already. One of the mountains off our right reminded me of Bora Bora.
For some reason, feeling tremendous ‘pressure’ to get my thoughts written down up to the current 4pm time, before returning to deck to watch the Beagle Channel slide by. Glaciers expected, as I have seen in New Zealand, Alaska and Iceland, and probably other places as well that I simply do not remember, but will with the reading of my diaries, which I have with me but have not looked at yet. Am so focused on tomorrow that little else seems to matter. Checked the memory card in the camera and I apparently only have used half of it. I will renew internet time tonight, and will auto get another half hour added to what I buy, which will be a total of a hundred and fifty bucks. Need more drinking water shortly, but I know where to get it, no prob.
From the southernmost rr we saw the southernmost golf course, and a concorde once landed here with rich people playing all the unusual courses in the world in a row. Can understand the feelings. They released beavers into the wild with no natural predators and now they have a lot of dams and downed trees that they weren’t counting on. There was live music in the rr sta when the train pulled in, and many photogenic things to be seen. Am desperately trying NOT to pick up more junk, folders, pictures, souvenir calendars, placemats etc, but I have gotten postcards.
The river pilot has been switched from Argentina to Chile, and I would be a lot more excited about being in Chile if I had not been here before on June 10, 1998. (see the puter is good for something
Again, I rate the shore excursion by NCL as another really good one, almost outstanding, and while it could have been a little shorter with the gauchos and a little longer in the park, it was just fine. I think most of us would rather have had a little more time in Ushuaia, but for some, there is always the option of a return trip. I have been doing a great deal of thinking about whether if the trip tomorrow is blown, I’ll try again, and I suspect I will.
As we set sail from Ushuaia, I positioned self in middle of bow on deck 7 and saw several ships which were going to the Antarctic. I felt the same way as I did the first time I saw such trips on my first visit to Punta Arenas, Chile[6-10-98], only moreso, because now, tomorrow is make it or break it in terms of whether I will see my 7th continent or not. This trip.
Was on the bow of the boat for quite awhile, getting windblown and quite a few good pix of the glaciers, some little ice berglets, the sun thru the overcast, and I thought that life has been very very good to me.
According to the people at the shore excursions desk, everything is set for the flight tomorrow. I have juice in the batteries of gps and camera, and about half of the memory card to use. I am writing now in the lido lounge with the beagle channel sliding by outside and the trio playing. The lounge is more than half full as the rep of this group has been spreading and I no longer have the place essentially to myself. . She plays flute prettily as well.
At suppertime I absolutely stuffed myself, and that is why Americans gain weight on cruises. I had about five slices of roast pork and gravy, some lamb, waldorf salad, key lime pie and two flavors of ice cream to top it off. I also found some hot chocolate after an hour of being windblown on the front deck. Wearing very warm clothing I was very comfortable, but many others, who might have snickered at goretex gloves a day or so ago, were not snickering now as they looked longingly at the only warm hands on the deck. I saw, perhaps an otter, which the Germans called a sea dog.
A little restless now, and wandered into the theatre and caught a good cowgirl number that I may go back to see in the second show if I happen to be awake. Dynamite! Also picked up a spare set of duracels for either the gps or the camera if either one of them goes 28 on me manana. The tv monitor is so lovely that I keep doing turns around the deck. Am really packing carefully for tomorrow, including the backseat logbook, spare camera, etc. My little stewardess made me a peacock tonight and was distressed when I thought ‘twas a swan. // Off I go again onto the deck.
In addition to getting new batteries for either the camera or GPS (whichever goes first) I also checked the capacity on the memory card, and it seems to show half empty. Taking the throwaway just to be sure..n Someone suggested the room service for potato chips, and that is exactly what I did. I also used them for the oatmeal cookies to take with me tomorrow.
. So now it is 2300 and my big big day is tomorrow, or not. All packed and ready and wakeup call AND coffee and juice and cookies ordered for 0600. Curtains opened to let in any early sunshine, and let us hope there is lots and lots.
Sunday, March 06, 2005