Ushuaia and Crossing Travel Log
Ushuaia is a small town and the Main Street and people there reminded me of Anchorage Alaska, USA. My hotel for this stay was Las Lengas and the staff was helpful in every way. It is interesting to see a town like this because of the stark contrast between the locals and those trekking in Argentina, or cruising off to other destinations like Antarctica. Down the hill from my hotel was a street where the locals lived. It looked as you would expect and had the flavor and color of the small sleeping town outside of Machu Picchu.
I also met the first of my fellow trekkers there and it was great fun. By the end of the second day I would have a flavor of the cruise to come and it was not what I expected at all. On a side note – I did have the opportunity to take a day trip to the national park. On this trip, the tour guide, proved to be unique and she was quite an inspiring person. Against all odds, in my opinion, she decided to shake up her life and leave home to become a tour guide. She was elegant in her description of how one changes one’s life. She brought up Albert Einstein-If you want different results, then change what you are doing. This is brilliant if you consider the problem with most from the USA today. In the USA if the average person is unsuccessful they continue their behavior and protest that the game is rigged. They reason that if everyone would just play by the rules they would be successful. Alas, they continue the same behavior that landed them in their current position.
That evening we embarked on our adventure . The ship was alive and to my surprise was filled with people from all over the world and of ages ranging from perhaps eight to eighty years old. I was sitting at a table in the bar, perhaps the best place to get to know your fellow travellers, and we got into a discussion on how the group of 20 somethings were doing something that we never would have considered at their age. Someone said “when we were 20 we did not have the opportunity” and they were right. I suppose the most important thing is to take advantage of one’s opportunities at every turn. The bar closed at midnight and the last of the passengers including myself adjourned for a good night’s sleep. In all the excitement we had forgotten what was in store for us, the crossing of the Drake Passage that evening.
Day two aboard ship was much different. On day two I had taken at least seven Dramamine before 6 am and stared at my first cup of coffee comfortable that if I drank it I would be horribly ill. I retired back to my cabin, took one more Dramamine, and then tried to lie as still as I could. But the ship was not being helpful. I did have a friend in my misery; an albatross was flying all around – outside my cabin window.
By 7:00 am I was able to drink my first cup of coffee, but I was by no means feeling much better. I walked to the bridge and looked out, as the waves broke over the bow. It has been over twenty years since I have been out to sea and I had forgot the simple pleasure of looking out and only seeing the water. I decided to walk outside of the bridge and enjoy the sea air in my face. I noticed that the ship was lisping 10-15 degrees in both directions.
Breakfast was at 8:00 am and I decided towalk down and get some juice. There I concluded that I was not the only one feeling a bit sick as the room had about half of its compliment compared to the previous night’s dinner. I managed to not get sick from my cup of orange juice. I was sure that I looked as bad as I felt and headed up to grab a shower. It was a good call and I went back to the room for another Dramamine. The ship has a lecture series that they are doing and regardless of how I felt I wanted to go to the lecture. Like Breakfast the room was not close to its capacity and it was a great lecture.
The crew is a great bunch of people that tend to be very different from each other and they all exhibit passion for their work and for the success of this voyage. For the rest of the morning most of the lectures were not close to full and the sea did not relent. In every lecture room the following thoughts ran through my head; what do I do If I get sick, where is the nearest sick sack and would I have enough time to grab one.
By the afternoon the sea started to provide us with a respite and it could not have come sooner. By mid afternoon and before dinner it seemed people had their appetite back for food and the muffins and cookies the crew put out in the lounge were devoured. What was not so shocking at this point was that I did not notice one person take alcohol of any kind.
By 5pm that changed. It appeared no one was green any more and that people started to get into a relaxed mood. Beers and other drinks started appearing on the tables. I engaged the doctor in a conversation regarding which would be better for me a beer or a gin and tonic. The doctor declined to give a prescription in this case but he did suggest that beer would have less alcohol, so beer it was. I was amazed to find that my appetite was back and three of us even shared a bottle of wine.
The dinners on ship are actually quite good with three options that include a vegetable main course. From not eating all day I went into troth mode. Anything put in front of me I ate quickly and there was a lot of food. From soup to salad and bread it went on and on. By the time the desert came I had had my fill and decided to retire to the bar to hear the bar talk on sailing traditions or myths.
I had another beer in the bar and exceeded my limit. My limit is two drinks and the beer and wine earlier had topped that – I am sure as I had two beers and two glasses of wine at dinner. I had the pleasure of entering into multiple conversations and somehow ended up in lively discussions on politics and engineering.
On the politics side it always amazes me that very few people have not studied capitalism, nor have they read any of the works on it, as a philosophy, that are corner stones in the decision making processes on taxes, government and social responsibility. Personally my favorite is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
This was my second night being amongst the last to leave the bar which was by now the general meeting place on ship. My last discussions were on engineering philosophy, ethics, and the unintended consequence that we may have when products that we develop are used in ways that we never intended, and why it is important to care about what we create.
In looking back at yesterday I also think it was notable that technology like this computer were not well received. The sentiment reminded me of the book “Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance”- specifically the part where people allowed a dripping sink and the technology of life, that had become so pervasive, to raise them to high levels of stress and anxiety. While technology is no doubt the most important thing on which the ship crew depends during this voyage, beside their fellow crewmembers of course, it seems that some of my fellow travelers would prefer not to see common trappings of modern life (technology) around them, besides their own digital cameras.
Sometime tonight, before dinner, we will have the privilege of spotting the Antarctic Peninsula and of course that also means the Antarctic continent. In one of the lectures yesterday we learned that there was an argument that the Peninsula was not part of the continent and that it was an Island. In the end it was determined, by an America Explorer (I believe an American – don’t hold me to it), that it was part of the continent and for me that explorer – wherever he was from, confirmed that this continent was in reach for me over 100 years later. This year for me may be considered the year of 100s. Machu Pichu’s one hundred year anniversary and a couple pf 100-year anniversaries here at the bottom of the world. Or according to the map that I purchased in New Zealand, it is the top of the world.
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