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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Maryalice’s trip to Antartica…

Posted by direwolff on February 15, 2005

Let me preface the following letter by saying that Emily is one of my dear friends with whom I enjoyed spending time down in Costa Rica. While down there she read the following letter from her grandma out loud and had us rolling by the end of it. What made this even more precious was that her grandmother is 80 years old …yes 80! After hearing it through I knew this deserved to be shared as it really is entertaining. Just hope I have this kind of spunk at her age. So with that introduction here goes…

Dear Family,

I think it is about time I reported in after my wonderful amazing, magical trip to Antarctica. Because it was just that I'm getting my pictures ready but they can't begin to tell the story. The air is so unsullied, so crystal clear- even when it is cloudy or dull. The sun never seemed to set, although we were given the exact hour, but it never got dark. To everyone who has been to Norway or Alaska- you know how that disrupts one's day. We would get up in the middle of the night, look out the porthole, see something interesting, dress and go up to catch a photo or just look.

The scenery was dramatic and beautiful and ever changing! The icebergs were awesome!!!! The lead scientist warned us that we would soon see an iceberg, but to resist going out to catch a picture, because ahead there would be many more exciting ones! How true that was. They are truly spectacular sights. We travelled among them for several days, and they were still dramatically different. At times we seemed to be entirely surrounded by them.

We had one very exciting morning, too. On this morning we were scheduled to go ashore to see a colony of 10,000 penguins. All the passengers were divided into four groups, and only 100 people are allowed ashore at any one time. It took quite a while to get all our gear on, and then having to get in line to get belted into a life jacket, get one's ticket for the [shore visit] was not a hastily achieved goal. This morning I was fortunate, as my group was next to last. (The groups were rotated each day). I went out on deck and took a panorama of the bay we were in — it was gorgeous. The next thing I knew, the horn was sounded , calling all the back. About five people in the first [group] had gotten on shore, they had to return immediately.

Just after I had finished my pictures, a huge mountain side of snow caved into the bay. A friend of mine heard the captain say, "We've got to get out of here, right now, or we'll be here for the next three weeks!" A few minutes later some was heard to say, "It is not encroaching too fast." And the captain replied "That's because I have moved the ship!" We were underway as they arrived at the ship. The current and the ice could have blocked our passage out! I am so glad I have before and after photos!

We had been told that everything we did was dependent on the weather and the ice, we were now true believers! We had been warned that we would have to be flexible and that we became. Crossing the Drake passage was rough and so many passengers were seasick, the Captain's cocktail party was postponed until the next day. The next day we had a surp rise trip to view the icebergs up close. It interfered with the party, so the dress code changed from whatever you happened to be wearing- boots and all, and the dinner after was served as you walked into the dining room–with late comers left to the second sitting.

We were told that when we got home, we would not be able to explain what was so wonderful about the trip. And that is absolutely true. We had all kinds of weather – snow, and gale force winds which make it seem frigid, but then the sun would come out and you could be out in a light sweater. It was hard to image that many of the places we sailed would be entirely iced over in a few months. With all the snowcaps, it was hard to believe that they have only about 8 inches of precipitation a year. We saw birds and whales and penguins and elephant seals, among other things. It was spectacular, and I urge all of you to try to make a voyage in the near future, as even with all the restrictions, I am afraid the pristine beauty will gradually be spoiled by our presence.

To top this off, I must relate the latest "Auntie Mame" entry in my travel log. It all began when Aleta loaned me a black t-shirt to take with me, lest I get cold. I, as usual, went with as little carry-on baggage as I could – a large purse and a belly pack for necessities. I knew that I would have my baggage in Buenos Aires could change for the trip to Ushuaia. I forgot that they would collect my baggage early (Midnight) for that trip, so I took out all my clothes for the morning and repacked all I could in my bag. My nightie would go in my purse. The following morning, (it was about 6 a.m.) I very efficiently got partially dressed, brushed my teeth, etc, and reached for my pants and — I found in my hand, a black t-shirt! I was a little shook-up. I had nothing to wear! I called the desk and got a young man, who said there was no way of retrieving my bag and that, of course, no store would be open for hours! He tried to contact the tour people, but they were busy preparing our departure. He said he would get back to me.

After a few minutes, I began to consider my predicament and went into the bathroom. It was a beautiful one – this was a 4-star establishment – all lovely tile, etc. And there was a second big bath towel! I draped it around me and it was big enough. With a few extra turnings at the waist, it would hold. Naturally the hotel logo was emblazoned on my belly, but it would do. So I called the desk, got a lady, this time, briefed her on the situation and told her I was exiting with the towel. When I got to pick up my boarding pass, I started to tell the agent that I had taken the towel, and she said she knew all about it.

So I got on the bus, went to the airport and found a seat. Shortly thereafter a lady I had never laid eyes on presented herself to me and said, "Would you please tell me why you are wearing a hotel towel?" I did, and the young man with her, said he would never have noticed it!

Another lady told me later, that she had noticed it and thought it was a strange skirt.. On the plane I sat with a man who had worked for the ship's owner for years. He was a jolly Brit and got a good laugh out of my attire. Well, our baggage did not arrive in our cabins until after dinner, so I met my new table mates, still emblazoned with the hotel logo. I created a lot of good-natured laughter, and met some interesting people because of it! Enough, with love, Maryalice

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