Log - Day #7...
|A seal at Half Moon Island.
February 9, 2006
Deception Island and Half Moon Island
I feel like hell right now. Absolute hell. Why did I stay up so late last night? Why did I drink so much wine? Ughhhhhh…….
I’m wearing my bathing suit right now because we might be able to go swimming at Deception Island. This is where there are hot
springs. From what the crew says, the water is more cold than hot. I don’t know if I have it in me to be part of the ‘South
Shetland Swim Team’ as they call it here. The whole thought of it is making me a bit sick right now. Wait. I think it’s the hangover
that is making me feel that way.
I am proud to report that I am now journaling while being cured of my hangover.
Alicia sat out Deception Island but I headed out. I was wearing my bathing suit underneath all of my gear but had absolutely no
intentions of getting in the water. Even if I did intend to get in the water before, those feelings would have probably disappeared
once I dipped my fingers into it. After a couple seconds in the sea, I think they were numb for the next ten minutes. At least I
wouldn’t have to contemplate going in later. My mind was set.
The first thing that was really noticeable about this landing site was that it was so untypical of what you would think of when you
hear ‘Antarctica’. The beach was made up of small black rocks. The mountains in the backdrop were steep and jagged. Lots of
craggy peaks. There was a lone Gentoo penguin and many fur seals. We walked to the top of a hill and saw the coastline that
existed on the other side. What I was seeing blew me away. I could have been looking at the coastline of California or New
Zealand – the beautiful royal blue water set against the dark brown rocky cliffs. But it was Antarctica. There is no way to
understand the diversity of what exists out here until you have been.
On our way back to the zodiacs, we passed buildings that have definitely seen better days. These were from back in the day when
this area was a whaling station. At one point over 6000 whale carcasses were here. Now there are masses of whale bones that
Before getting onto a zodiac Naama and I decided to watch the creation of the ‘hot tub’. When we were on the boat they told us
about hot springs that exist on Deception Island. I have to say that this was a bit of a stretch as there was a small steaming area
of hot water big enough for a few birds to bathe in. By the time we arrived back, many people were there with shovels making a
big pit. I figured since I wasn’t going to be going in, I might as well feel like I played some role in keeping people warm after
dipping into the numbingly cold sea. I grabbed a shovel and put myself to work. It looks a lot easier shoveling mud than it actually
is. For that reason, I employed myself for only a small period of time. But at least I played a part.
Once I got out Naama and I watched older ladies strip down to their bathing suits (or ‘swim costumes’ as they are called by many
others) and run into the sea and then run just as quickly into the ‘hot tub’. This was all it took for Naama to want to go in as well.
She was intent on having me go in with her. I told her it wasn’t happening. There was no way.
Next thing I knew I was taking off all of my warm clothing and was down to nothing but my bathing suit. I think because it was
during a moment of deliriousness I don’t recall all of the details. What I remember is running into the water (and there was no
other way to do this but to run), dipping my body under, running back and moving right into the hot water pit. Once I was there,
my body was happy – completely forgetting how freezing it was just seconds earlier. That being said, it was nowhere near as bad
as I thought it would be. It wasn’t even that cold getting out of the water. Ahhh. I was refreshed.
I threw my clothes on and got on the zodiac to get back to the boat. Then I realized something. I was still hungover. How could
that be? After all of this fresh air? After dipping into freezing cold water? I just didn’t understand how it could be.
A trip to the sauna was the next item on my agenda. I think everybody was discouraged from going believing that ‘everybody’
would be in there. I got there to find only five other people inside. Score. Twenty minutes was all it took to make me hot and
sweaty past the point of being able to take it any more.
My headache had clearly clogged my brain from thinking correctly. I realized what was in order to start feeling better: Advil. How
did I not think of this earlier??? I popped three pills before lunch. It was only a matter of time before the ibuprofen would set in.
After lunch I took a much-needed nap before heading off to our last outing of our entire Antarctica trip: Half Moon Island. When I
was outside I realized something. I felt great! Nice and refreshed and headache-free.
Here we saw Elephant Seals and Fur Seals along with some Chinstrap penguins. This was also where an Argentinean station was.
Everybody was greeted by a smiley uniformed Argentinean with a tray of coffee in hand. Talk about hospitality. After walking
through this station, we all felt that we would definitely rather be stationed here than in Port Lockroy. The bedrooms looked nice
and they had bathroom facilities. Really nice looking bathroom facilities. They may have even had a television set. But, then again,
they might not have. Maybe I’m spreading rumors now because my imagination is taking over space in my brain. Not sure. So
ignore the part about the television set. I do know, however, that the clean bathroom was for real.
The weather was quite warm here. It made it nice to sit on the rocks while waiting for our boat. I could have spent hours on this
rocky beach reading a book while catching some rays. I am officially scared for the global warming on this continent.
As a precautionary measure, I took a motion sickness tablet this evening. This not only knocked me out but it was also making me
delirious. Throughout dinner I wanted to nod off. But I managed not to. There was only a little bit of time in between dinner and
the movie that was playing tonight (an IMAX film that was called ‘Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition’ that was being viewed in a
non-IMAX way). I wanted to see it. I had to stay awake.
A few of us talked to one of the crew members. We have named him ‘Chris – The Bird Guy’ since there are four different Chris’
on the crew here. The deliriousness of the pill had clearly set in when the first thing I said to him was “You know…you’re pretty
funny. For a birder.” And it was the truth as he is really funny and that I would expect people who are obsessed by birds to
be…well…a bit on the boring side. I also shared with him my disgust for pigeons. I think I started telling a story that made
absolutely no sense. I took it upon myself to see this as my cue to leave the table and shut up for the evening.
I went upstairs and watched the movie. I probably only watched half of it in total as I was falling a sleep every couple of minutes.
At one point I thought they were all going to die. Actually, I think I thought that several times. But in the end, I’m pretty sure all
28 or so of Shackleton’s crew (including himself) had lived through it. Once again, I’m not positive. But I think that was what I
heard the narrator saying at the end of the movie. I do remember seeing scenery in the movie that was almost exactly like the
stuff we had just seen during this past week. I can’t wait to rent the movie when I get home and watch it at my sister’s house. She
won’t appreciate it but I’m pretty sure her husband will.
But now I am practically dead. It’s only 10:00pm. I can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow as there is absolutely nothing for us to do in
the next two days other than have ‘down time’. I’ve been loving everything we have been seeing and doing but it is going to be
sooo nice not feeling like we have to be on the go. Ahhh…
|A penguin on Deception Island.
|Running out of the Antarctic waters