While Half Moon Island was our last stop in Antarctica it was far from the least.The Zodiacs landed at a rocky location and we were hustled off the boats to see the sites. Life vests were removed and then we were off to the exploration. I think on the last landing it hits, with limited time, what do you really want to see? I chose to walk to a halfway point of a hike and then return back on my own past a research station and then back to a penguin rookery (if that is spelled right).
So as we started the walk I could see another Island to the left and the volcanic vistas topped off the morning. I find it hard to describe how great it is to have met and talked to so many people on this trip and in the end I may have met close to all of the people that were on this ship as passengers. On this last day there was plenty of “hellos” shared,” isn’t this beautiful”, and of course the common; “I have no words”. So as we walked on this final landing, it felt all new again. This excursion provided the first sighting of a Fur Seal and I have plenty of video of the seal walking on all fours of sorts back to the water and yes it could run.
When we were walking, we were briefed, on what not to step on-and there was a big warning to not step on the moss. You see in this climate it takes moss about a hundred years to grow to the level we were looking at and it was a small patch nothing immense. The raw power to destroy is incredible and this explains why they are so careful with visitors that come to the Antarctic. Also, when walking, we ran across some Weddell seals and the guide repeated for those that did not know that the Weddell species lives all year in the cold areas and of course this means they must live under the ice. They keep open air holes by gnawing at the ice with their teeth, it was again sad to hear that because they have to do this and as they get old some will die as their teeth will wear down and they will not be able to eat. I thought to myself-this is nature and this is not something to solve. It is something to leave alone. We spend too much time trying to solve problems with nature to make the outcomes match our belief systems, when what is required is that we leave it alone, as it is a world treasure.
Walking back from the Argentinian Station I crossed over to the other shoreline to see some ice floats in a channel dividing these two close islands. If I had to describe the width of the island I was on, at this point, from water to water, I would say 150 yards. When I got to the other side there were more seals and some Antarctic Birds but what was most impressive were the vistas, and they were breathtaking, moving, and they made it surreal. Our excursion guides are professionals and they are always looking out for us and the wild life. In this instance one of the guides came three meters from a penguin and caught himself, we all laughed, and he said something like that is really uncommon, I agree, they are that good. He said for a split second his mind was elsewhere, I thought to myself that this place still holds wonders and even for those that are here daily!
I headed to an overhang/cliff of sorts and shot some great video of a Chinstrap Penguin rookery. I think these penguins may be my favorite to date. I slowly walked back to the boat, said hello a dozen more times as I walked back to the beach and I urged people to see the chinstraps as they were awesome and suggested they bypass the other items like beach and seals.
Back on the boat I wonder what the takeaways from this place should be. They did not have a briefing on that and it is important! I am sure I am an Ambassador now of the Antarctic but when it is hard to find words it is hard to say what that means.
I end my postings about the landings on this continent by saying that the Antarctic is different beyond any expectations you may have and from talking to everyone, everyday, it is clearly different for and to everyone that experiences it. If you are headed here do your best to not be part of a click of people. Try to talk to everyone. Listen to them and above all let them talk as in this journey it is fun to learn about what others are seeing and feeling. I was shocked last night at the “Goodbye to Antarctica” toast and Auction Gathering that upon seeing someone sitting alone, that I had only seen a couple times before, and talking to him I got yet another perspective that was a bit obvious. A subtle bad treatment of Indians and I thought how sad for the people saying negative bits, what I missed was that it harmed the Indians as well. We talked for about 45 minutes and exchanged email addresses; he bought me a Gin and tonic and thanked me for treating him with respect.
It is pretty clear to me that it will take sometime to process all that I have learned and remembered from this trip and as I walked around Half Moon Island yesterday I realized that this was my last day I was not so sad about going back to the daily routine, but I think I will bring back many things that were learned and/or remembered. I will post more about that in my next post or two. However, while Half Moon Island was our last stop for Antarctica it was far from the least.
Ciao for now!
Did I say, that in the auction, I successfully bid for the water in the stainless steal container that was taken from a source of 10,000 year old ice and was melted down to auction off! I will need to have something on the Rocks made from a Glacier source when I am home.