Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Logbook: Antarctica II - Part 4

Antarcticaiipart41_2Sunday and Monday were transit days on moderate seas from South Georgia to the Falkland Islands. We were escorted almost constantly by albatross soaring behind, around and sometimes right next to the ship. Their ability to fly with very little effort, using the wind, the draft of the ship and -- I’m pretty sure -- even the “ground effect” of the waves is truly astonishing. It is almost hypnotizing to watch them and I spent a lot of my time happily doing so. On Tuesday morning we arrived at the Falkland Islands and dropped anchor in colorful, sleepy little Port Stanley. I had hopes of doing an interim website update, so I went ashore with my Mac and inquired about internet connection. The prognosis wasn’t very positive, but I was referred to “The Malvina Inn” with assurance that at least they offered wireless in their lounge. A walk of about a kilometer along the waterfront brought me to the tidy, very British establishment and five Pounds Sterling got me online. To say the connection was slow would be complimentary -- the speed averaged only about 4 Kbps! With over 70 MB to upload, I did the math and figured with confidence that my update would require more time than I would have on shore.

So, I abandoned my plan and did some other, slower web stuff. In the process, I struck up a conversation with a distinguished British gentleman who is visiting the islands as a historian for an upcoming documentary on “The Conflict.” This being the 25th anniversary of the battle for the Falklands -- or whatever one may choose to call it -- is quite a big deal. Anyway, for the first time in a long, long while I had met someone who asked me good, probing questions about The Voyage and really “got it” both quickly and fully. We ended up having a fabulous, open and philosophical conversation for almost two hours from which I came away very energized and thankful. I look forward to crossing paths with Tony somewhere, sometime in the future. As my allotted time on shore drew to a close, I packed up my Mac and took a stroll back through the town -- about which I don’t really have much to say except that it is “British” and “remote” -- then caught a Zodiac shuttle back to the ship.

Antarcticaiipart42We repositioned to West Falkland Island overnight and landed on Carcass Island first thing Wednesday morning. The weather was very good and it was a treat to have a long, leisurely walk along the shore, across grasslands and among a variety of sea birds, Magellanic penguins and farm animals. That’s right, there were a few cows and horses which belonged to the couple whose farm we visited for “tea and cakes.” I didn’t care too much for the scene -- though the British passengers were in their element and seemed to be having a grand time -- so I went out back and sat with the couple’s dog for almost an hour. On top of my excellent conversation the day before, some great “doggie time” really gave me a boost! In the afternoon we made a landing at West Point Island to look at more birds, but I was feeling “full” and decided to stay on board and just chill out. With that, our Falkland Islands visit was over and we set out to sea. Today is a day at sea as we transit back to Ushuaia where we will arrive in the morning. As the cruise wraps up, there is the usual ado of closing out on board accounts, packing up, etc.

Thankfully, I am exempt from it all because I am staying on board past Ushuaia for the repositioning north to Recife, Brazil. In the morning, I will hit the dock in Ushuaia the moment I am cleared -- I can’t even imagine how many Argentine stamps I will have in my passport before this is over! -- and plant myself in one of my now familiar internet cafes. If all goes well, my update will include three Reports, four Logbook entries and a complete new Photos page. I have some more media from “Antarctica II” to edit into Reports, but I haven’t had time to do so and I’m concerned about trying to upload too much stuff at one time on Ushuaia’s “uncertain” internet. In the afternoon I will re-board MV Polar Star -- quite possibly as the only “passenger” -- and during my ten, uninterrupted and more or less solitary days at sea en route to Recife -- which I am really looking forward to -- I will process the rest of “Antarctica II” and anything else that happens along the way. Then -- hopefully -- I will be able to bring everything up to date during my day in port there on March 28th. That is my plan -- insofar as I have one -- for “catching up with myself” after a truly fabulous cruise and bringing this website up to date in preparation for crossing the Atlantic to the Canary Islands on The Voyage of Macgellan!

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