Log - Day #3...
February 5, 2006
South Shetland Islands - Penguin Island
Today was incredible. Simply incredible. Probably even more incredible since I am writing this journal while I’m a bit buzzed…
I should have known it was going to be a good day when I saw a seal bobbing around in the ocean in my first minutes of looking
out at sea.
Oh wait! I forgot something that happened this morning prior that wasn’t really the sign of a good day. I took a shower and I
couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to turn the darn thing off. I hit every possible button and then I started tapping on pipes
and other things…but nothing was working. I thought I would give it a little break and see if it decided to turn itself off. I dried off.
I left the bathroom. I got ready for my day. But the shower was still running. My roomies were sleeping and I didn’t want to wake
them up regarding this matter and how to solve it. Instead I went upstairs and had them call housekeeping down to our room.
From what Alicia told me, some guy came to fix the problem but it proved to be a challenge even for him. He had to pull out the
pliers in order to alleviate the problem. The good news was that this did the trick.
And then I could go on to having my fantastic day…
I went to a lecture on the history of Antarctica and I also went to a lecture on photography given by the member of the crew that
I have a crush on. But there’s a reason I have a crush on him. He reminds me of Richard Quest. He’s funny and quirky and he’s
got that great English accent. You could imagine my excitement during the beginning of the lecture when he said on the
microphone “Jen, can you hear me?” while testing it out since I was sitting at the far end of the room. He knows who I am! He
knows who I am! I had never properly met him so this made me beam inside. I know, I know. I’m thirty years old. I shouldn’t
be this childish. But I am. I can’t help it. Maturity is not one of my stronger suits.
We got an alert in the late morning of whale sightings. We made our way to the front of the boat and straight ahead of us we could
see water spouting up in two different places. We got a bit closer and then we saw them breaking the surface. Not only that…we
could hear them breaking the surface which was even better (at least in my book). Then we saw the oh-so-picturesque moment
when the tail goes into the air. I had never seen that before! My first ‘whale watching’ experience. And might I say that it was
Today was only our third day on the boat and we already got to do a landing! We made our way to the South Shetland Islands and
anchored near Penguin Island. We all geared up (and I mean ‘geared up’) and listened for our group’s name to be called. Once it
was, we hopped into a zodiac (the sturdy boat that took us to shore) and did a water landing (which was rather dry thanks to my
oh-so-useful waterproof boots).
Folks… We were now on Antarctica!
We were free to roam around the designated parts of the island for a couple hours. There was a hike that could have been done up
to the volcano. But that was not my first priority. I was going to first visit the adorable little guys known as chinstrap penguins.
After the first few chinstrap penguins I saw, I noticed a somewhat unique sight. There was a penguin that looked different. It was
one of those Sesame Street ‘one of these things is not like the other’ moments. This penguin was a gentoo penguin – the only one
on this island. He had an orange beak and orange feet. Somebody asked why he was the only one here. One of the crew suspected
that he got lost. Maybe that was why I liked him so much – we had stuff in common already.
This island didn’t only have penguins; there were also Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals that called this place home. These
guys and the penguins were coexisting very peacefully. In fact, it seemed as if neither of them recognized the other’s existence
even though they were only within inches of each other.
As cute as the fur seals were, I have to admit that they did manage to instill a little bit of fear in me. They make quite an
intimidating noise that almost seems to say ‘Stay the hell away from me.’ It’s easy to get that message loud and clear. The
problem is when they decide to waddle in your direction and you can’t really tell if they are going to stop. We were prepped for
such situations. I was with Annalisa and the seal decided that it liked her more than me. She followed the advice of the crew and
started clapping her hands. This did the trick. The seal was now running in the other direction.
The walk back to the boat took some maneuvering around ‘guano’ (penguin poop) and whale bones. Yes, whale bones/remnants
were spread around the island. But they didn’t get too much in the way. Before entering our zodiac to get back to the main boat,
we got our boots de-poopified in order to alleviate the boat from smelling like one big piece of penguin guano.
February 6, 2007 – Re-cap of Last Night
Another dinner…another night of drinking…another morning of not feeling so hot. I convinced Darrell (one of the shutterbugs on
this boat) that I would also be waking up to see the sunrise since he mentioned he was going to be doing this. I thought they could
be some nice pictures to get. But I think it was actually the wine talking. I even set my alarm right there at the dinner table to
achieve this feat.
I ended up hanging out after dinner for quite some time. I figured there would be many more sunrises to come on this trip and
today’s would have to be postponed. At least for me. This ended up working out like a charm since Darrell told me there were
nothing but clouds in the sky and there was no sunrise.
And now it’s about time for me to start my day…