What It’s Like in Antarctica – Part 2!
alright, now where were we (picture me stretching out my arms, hands intertwined and bending back my fingers like i imagine santa would do before reading us a story in the public library).
ah yes, antarctica and what it’s like in antarctica!
in my first post i gave you the logistics of how many things worked while we traveling there so let’s get down to the picturesque business.
friday november 27, 2015
i stepped foot on the continent of antarctica (complete with a seal in the background and a certificate to prove it!)
this was on Portal Point, which lies at the northern entrance of De Gerlache Straight. this was the “gate or best access” to enter the antarctic peninsula for many antarctic expeditions. this took place around 3pm!
“an antarctic expedition is the worst way to have the best time of your life.” – apsley cherry garrard
it was here where we took many photos, one of the most important ones is our tradition of the itailian peace flag (“pace”)! we take this flag to each country, take a photo with it and then buy a picture frame in the same country to hang on our wall at home. unfortunately no frame was found so i will be venturing to Michael’s arts & crafts store to make my own (i am not unhappy about this – craft world at christmas?! twist my rubber arm, as the aussies would say).
my initial thoughts when stepping foot on the southern most continent, where less than 1% of 1% of the world’s population has been to?
“holy shit. i’m in freakin’ antarctica!”
i thought about shedding a tear (we all know i’m a crier) but i knew the consequence would be it freezing to my face to instead i jumped into my husband’s arms and kissed him hard. we worked so hard to get here, both financially and for me – mentally. i have a lot of feels about it, which i am still trying to process and will save for another post. bottom line though, i was damn proud of myself and my husband for making it happen.
this landing and adventure out was one of my favorite because instead of going straight back to the ship, we took a magical ride through the sea of icebergs you see in the background! i took over 100+ photos just of these icebergs but i will share with you my favorite ones…
and the one i think i will print out massively and hang…
icebergs are large floating blocks of ice that have broken off from ice shelves and alpine glaciers. typically you see only 1/3 of the iceberg above the surface (but sometimes even 99% could be underwater). it was fascinating to learn about all the different types of ice and how it’s formed. it’s too much to cover here but know that many of these typical ones can weigh as much as 100,000 tons and the large tabular ones can be 400,000 TONS!
here’s a little video for you through the iceberg fields! i am working on a compilation video so sit tight!
while we are in learning mode…let’s talk about the three types of penguins we saw.
this is the adelie penguin. while they are common in all of antarctica, we saw it the least in the area we traveled. it was my favorite!
this is the chinstrap penguin – aptly named! this is the second most common penguin in antarctica (after the macaroni penguin, which we did not see).
this is the gentoo penguin and we saw them most frequently because they “have the widest range of distribution in antarctica” (can you tell one of our biologists told me that?) they were everywhere!
it is thought that penguins are evolved from flight birds but lost their ability to fly because of lack of land predators. they are super cute to see walk because their wings are outstretched but often fall over and are clumsy on land. get them in the water and hot dang – they are fast, graceful and adorable (video coming soon). they spend about 75% of their time in water.
they generally eat krill and small fish in antarctica. the emperor penguin is the other type that is only found in antarctica but not on the side we were on so we did not see them.
my favorite part…they are generally monogamous and mate for life! i tried interviewing one for the “new wifestyle profiles” but it was hard to understand what they were saying.
ready for me to potentially blow your mind: POLAR BEARS AND PENGUINS DO NOT EXIST TOGETHER NATURALLY. i know. all those storybooks and pictures…lies. polar bears live in the arctic, not the antarctic. if you see a photo of penguins and polars bears together, it is photoshopped because they don’t live in the same region! #mindblown.
saturday, november 28th
we were supposed to navigate the Lemaire channel, but it was blocked with sea ice so the ship had to turn back. we first landed on Cuverville Island (in the northern part of the Errera Channel instead) in the morning and then Port Lockroy later that day! it was about 30 degrees F. if you have read “where’d you go bernadette?” this is Port Lockroy, which is in the book!
it was absolutely gorgeous here, another one of my favorite stops (and not just because this was the one place we could get souvenirs in antarctica!)
when you travel to antarctica, here is where you can get your passport stamped!
half of our ship ventured here while the others went to Jougla Point, and then we switched. Port Lockroy is a museum and historic site operated by the Antarctic Heritage Trust. it recreates the way of life of the pioneer antarctic residents, much of which is carefully conserved from the 1944 original station.
souvenir time! i knew it would be spendy there since it’s not an easy place to access.
however, i was unprepared for just how spendy. sorry friends and family, but i was selfish and spent almost all of our allotted souvenir money on an antarctica sweatshirt for myself. #wheninantarctica.
hey look, they even sold my husband’s book, “speaker leader champion!” (fine, i put it there and took a photo). that woman had been working there for two weeks but said “so far, i’m loving it!” let’s hope it stays that way until she departs in march 2016.
look for our names when you sign the visitor book! love that we signed right below poland.
after that, something very special happened but i can’t tell you yet (ohhhh the foreshadowing!)
let’s pause between pictures and materialism so we can learn a second.
antarctica is the only continent with no native population. thanks to our fabulous expedition team, i learned a lot about it! 18 countries operate year-round scienfitic research stations and during the summer (which occurs during the UK and USA’s winter) as many as 10,000 scientists and support staff work. only 1,000 stay for the brutal (and completely dark) winter.
we were actually there for antarctica day (december 1) when the Antarctic Treaty was originally signed in 1959. it is signed by all countries operating there and says that the continent is to be used for peaceful purposes and all military and industrial activities are banned.
as you can see, antarctica by itself inspires awe and is remarkable. my husband and i were expecting to be impressed and have an incredible time together during this trip but something even better happened. we made, what i can only assume/hope/force upon, lifelong friendships with some fantastic people.
it might have been something to do with our matching hoodies…
i’m standing with mark from holland and julia, originally from russia but now living in the united states! she found out you could venture to antarctica last year while in south america with her 1.5 year old son but they wouldn’t let her take him since the drake’s passage is so rough. she came back this year, by herself because she wanted to go! her husband stayed back with their child. i was really inspired by this and am hoping she will do a ‘new wifestyle profile’ (say yes, julia!)
while it’s safe to say we chatted with and were friendly with most everyone on our 87 passenger cruise, this core group absolutely made our experience 10 times what it would have been!
one of us would always race to the dining room to nab a table that could seat us all, get on the same zodiacs when we could and played cards for hours. hands down, they made our trip a trip of a lifetime. we are already all talking about where we should all travel together next! i miss them terribly. we joked that it was like we were at a very expensive camp, where wine was allowed! miss and love to you all! xo.
whew, i have been writing for 4.5 hours straight. i have made the executive decision, as i am the captain of this here blog, that i will stop here for now!
stay tuned because i will be sharing more photos like this…WHALES!
**great news, the last and final post is HERE!