This is my fourth expedition to Antarctica, but third time on a ship. My last expedition was the 80° South testing expedition to Union Glacier via air! That was a small team of only 14 people. This expedition will be nearly 100 people from all walks of life. I am excited to interact with some amazing people and to learn new things. The people I have already met inspire me greatly. How lucky to be working with them. This trip is very different, as I am proud to bring an amazing TASIS Upper School student with me. She is 16 year old Gabrielle Nicholls, and I have known her since she was 4. She has been involved in my Roots & Shoots Wildlife club, and she will be representing Roots & Shoots from the UK on this expedition. The youth are our future, and our future is now!
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tonight, at 10:10 pm, Gabrielle and I boarded our flight for Buenos Aires, which was our first step towards our journey to Antarctica-IAE/Climate Force 2018 Expedition. I had just flown in the night before from Romania, where I left 17 Upper School students with three other teachers. Thankfully, Perrin Tingley took over for me and did a brilliant job with a smooth second half of the trip. Our students were in Romania, working with Romanian Children’s Relief, a wonderful charity I am on the advisory board for. I have been fortunate to work with them for the past 16 years. Our students got to work with abandoned babies, giving them love and laughter, as well as special needs toddlers, teens, and young adults. What a wonderful exchange for all involved! Thank you to our TASIS students for their care and time given to these very special children.
We met Shevy at Heathrow, and she had just arrived from India! We also found out that Jumper, my old friend was on our same flight! Here we go!
Meanwhile, I will arrive on Friday morning- excited to see my most favourite city in the world!!
Friday, February 23, 2018
After 13 hours on our flight, we landed in Buenos Aires! It was strangely hot, as I have been living in cold for many months back in England. It turned out that Shevy and Jumper were on our flight. They are two fellow Expedition Leaders. I was happy to meet Shevy, from India. She is young and driven, and she is doing great work! I have known Jumper for 10 years, as he has been on the ship the previous two times I was on a ship expedition. I also am lucky to see him at 2041 get-togethers in London. Jumper is a true 2041 leader, with vast experience. I so admire his strength and good humour and am glad he is with us!
We got a ride into the city with Shevy and quickly got ourselves settled in our hotel. I love this little hotel, The Broadway. It is small, but homely. It is also very central.
Although I was so tired, Gabrielle and I took off for a walk through the city. We stopped for lunch at the Florida Mall! We then walked to the Pink House, where the Perons hung out! I could almost see Evita standing on the balcony. The familiar protesters were nowhere in site, as the whole area in front of the pink building was torn up for renovation.
We then walked through beautiful, and artsy, San Telmo. I broke down and had a Frappuccino. I wanted coffee to wake up, but there was no way to drink a hot coffee in such hot weather.
We then made our way to a favorite area of mine, La Boca. It is a poorer area, but with much character and life. I love all of the graffiti you find in La Boca. We also walked past the big football stadium. In 2008, I was lucky enough to go to a Boca Juniors game with a friend of mine who lives here. It was amazing, and mainly for the crowd. What energy and passion for a game!
We ended the day with dinner at the famous pizza restaurant, Guerrin. It was so packed, and we could not believe the constant flow of people coming in. This restaurant was opened in 1932, and it is incredible!
I was knackered at the end of this day, but had a great time walking around a city that I love! Gabrielle really enjoyed herself, making sure to take it all in. She is such a lovely, mature young lady. She is a pleasure to travel with! Goodnight!!
Saturday, February 24
Today, we woke up and had a lovely breakfast at our hotel, Hotel Broadway. I stayed here five years ago, and I am so glad I came back. It is a wonderful little boutique hotel, almost like staying in a cozy little flat. It is close to the centre of everything. The street outside is alive and buzzing.
Our destination today was La Recoleta, with its beautiful cemetery. The incredible statues of angels are beautiful. I feel very peaceful there and just love to wander. Eva Peron, Evita, is buried here. Shortly after her death in 1952, her body disappeared for 20 years! It was removed by the Argentinian military in the wake of a coup that deposed her husband, President Juan Peron. It was sent to Italy, where she was buried in an unmarked grave in Milan. She then was sent back to Buenos Aires (I guess somebody knew where her unmarked grave was!!) and is now enshrined in La Recoleta. She lived only 33 years, but was a powerful and loved personality in Argentina.
We took it a bit easier on the walking today, as I had a reaction to walking for so many hours on hard street surfaces. My legs had turned red on the bottom part and were hot and sensitive. I bought a pair of Crocs! HA!! But, they were much better to walk in for my legs.
I also bought some amazing arnica leg cream, and I am already feeling that they are improving. Very strange, as this is unusual for me. But, all will be fine.
We did some slower walking around the city, and ended up in a very traditional restaurant for dinner. The clientele were all locals, you could tell. They were older and very traditional, as was the food. It was almost like stepping back in time. It was relaxing!
Off to bed after dinner, as we fly to Ushuaia tomorrow. A lovely two days in a lovely city. I must have lived here in a past life. I could feel it. I must have had a wonderful partner, as I could almost feel him walking in the streets! This could all be a dream, or….?!
Sunday, February 25
Today, we woke up and had a leisurely morning. My legs are now itching! That means that they are healing. I will continue to put the arnica on all day!!
The Internet in the hotel is not good, so I cannot update my website, so therefore this is being posted from my home! But, the day was lovely, and we soon made our way to the airport.
My luggage was JUST a tiny hair under 23 kg., so I was okay. We did have to pay extra, as they expected a passenger to just have 15 kg. NOT possible for three weeks, including Antarctic gear (my boots weigh 6 lbs. on their own!). We met Annie at the airport, and we met a few others who were coming on the expedition. Annie had been travelling for a while, and she was super hyped to be meeting the team.
We arrived at 7pm, and took a taxi to the hotel. This hotel, Mil 810, was fine, but not as nice as The Broadway! I was sharing for two nights with Annie, which helped with the cost, as Ushuaia is expensive. Gabrielle was in her own room.
We went out and met a bunch of the team at a pub on the main road. It was nice to meet some people and start to get into expedition mode. Everyone was excited. There were a large group of people from India, and then a mixture of other countries.
We went back and I went to sleep, ready to start fresh in the morning. My legs are healing, although the itch is still crazy! But, all should be fine for Antarctica.
February 28, 2018- Onboard and into the Drake’s Passage! OH NO!!!
March 1, 2018- Drake’s Passage
March 2, 2018- Drake’s Passage
Need I say more?
March 3, 2018- First Landing
Today, after a much longer journey in rougher seas, as we were outside of the islands and peninsula, we reached the Antarctic Circle of 66°33’52.824”S. For most people on the ship, this was a first to reach the Antarctic Circle. This was very exciting for them. I just wanted to get into calmer waters. I had not felt 100% yet and was looking forward to leaving seasickness behind for a while.
Everyone gathered at the bow to mark this with a toast and celebration. Everyone was excited, and now the real expedition, with landings, could take place.
We continued on this day to journey inbound to Crystal Sound. This is an area between Biscoe Islands and the coast of Graham Lands. It is named after many sites nearby where there has been scientific research on ice crystals.
Lunch took place around noon, and as always, the choice of food was amazing. I do not care much for their desserts, but the main foods and salads are all delicious. Meals are also a time to sit with various people to talk and find out more about their story.
Our first landing after lunch was on Detaille Island. This includes a landing and a cruise on the zodiac boat. It lies off the side of Andresen Island, just 6km (4 mi) off the western coast of Palmer Peninsula. It was discovered during the French Antarctic expedition of 1908-10, under Jean-Baptiste Charcot. Charcot named it Detaille Island after a shareholder in the Magellan Whaling Company, named Monsieur Detaille.
One of the most interesting features of Detaille Island is Base W. It was established in 1956 as a research station and a group of men lived there. They had to hastily leave after 1957, as it proved too unstable to stay there. The men left most of their belongings, including a calendar page displaying December 1957. Clothes, food, magazines, and everything they used were just left in place. It is a window back into the past, and a fascinating visit!
Outside, we saw Adelie penguins walking around, as well as seals resting on the ice. It was a great start to our expedition, giving us the flavour of the early research scientists.
March 4, 2018- Crystal Sound, The Fish Islands and Prospect Point
March 5, 2018- Cape Tuxen & The Berthelot Islands & Petermann
March 6, 2018- Yalour Islands, Port Charcot and Pleneau Bay
March 7, 2018- Danco Island, Neumayer Channel and Damoy Point
March 8, 2018- Enterprise Island & Portal Point
March 9, 2018- Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island & Half Moon Island
March 10, 2018 Drake’s Passage
March 11, 2018- Rounding Cape Horn
March 12, 2018 Arrive in Ushuaia and fly to Buenos Aires
March 13, 2018 Buenos Aires and fly to London