Friday, December 28, 2007: Day 4
Ushuaia, Argentina - 7:15 am EST
Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
Yesterday's hike to Laguna Esmeralda was enjoyed by all! The SOI team marched, trudged, slopped and hopped their way up a beautiful Tierra del Fuego valley surrounded by majestic mountains all the way to the spectacular Laguna. Mud and bogs became everyone's best friends along the way. Helping hands, smiles and laughs were common place as we had to get some of the students "unstuck" so they could continue onwards.
The guides and SOI staff taught the students along the way about the ecosystem they were hiking through, including how beavers introduced from Canada in the 1940s have really changed and impacted the landscape. Dr. Roots (Fred) explained how the landscape we were seeing is what parts of the Antarctic would look like (and has looked like in the past) without the ice that presently covers it. A few Andean Condors were spotted soaring overhead. It was a wonderful day, lots of fresh air, and a great chance to stretch our legs before boarding our ship and starting to sail across the Drake Passage today!
Upon arrival to the Laguna a few of the most daring (i.e. crazy!) members of our team went for a swim. I guess they are in training for our Polar Dip in the Antarctic in a few days! After the hike, we had a short stop in town before returning to the hotel for dinner.
Following dinner we convened in the conference room for our second expedition briefing. The remaining staff and students that had arrived in the afternoon were introduced, and we went over the plans for today and the first few days on the ship.
The briefing was also an opportunity to plant some seeds regarding the education program in the days ahead and get the students really focused on the goals and objectives of the expedition. Several members of the education team spoke about the learning process ahead and topics that they will be discussing. We talked about how the students need to take advantage of every opportunity in the days to come. We have encouraged them to ask lots of questions, participate, contribute, discuss, debate and rise to challenges when they are presented. At times you could have heard a pin drop in the room as the students sat on the edge of their seats listening. It’s a great sign that we have a very keen, bright and passionate group of youth assembled. Ian Tamblyn, our resident musician, talked about how he wants to help the students to learn to tell their “stories” and share their experiences. Eric Galbraith and David Brock touched on some of the Action Groups and post-expedition goals we will develop together during the expedition. Fred, the senior member of our education team spoke eloquently about the need to continually think about where we are during the journey. He explained how this is one of the most geologically active areas of the world; it is where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans converge below Cape Horn; and how we need to question what we are seeing, look at the charts, and not just take pictures. I explained to the group that they all now have something in common with Albert Einstein! They have now listened to a lecture from Dr. Roots. Fred once gave a presentation at Princeton and Albert Einstein sat attentively in the first row!
To conclude the evening we had a fun “icebreaker” activity with the students breaking into several smaller groups which was a great success. Then it was off to dream about penguins, icebergs, calm seas and our adventure ahead...
Today the students are off to the Tierra del Fuego National Park and then back to Ushuaia. This afternoon at 4:00 pm Ushuaia time (2:00 pm EST) we will board our new floating home the M/V Ushuaia and early this evening cast off the lines to set sail down the Beagle Channel.
The excitement amongst the students is palpable. We’re ready to go. Antarctica awaits us...
In the expedition spirit,
Expedition Leader & Executive Director
Student on Ice
Ushuaia, Argentina - 8:20 am EST
Posted by Michal Rosenthal, student
It’s 8:22 in the morning and I’m sitting in our hotel in Ushuaia. Later we are going to Tierra del Fuego National Park, and in the afternoon we are boarding the ship to Antarctica!
I am sitting in the hotel’s lobby, and many students are sitting in here writing their journals on laptops. Right now Lilith, a chaperone, is running with a pair of jeans in hand asking who forgot them in their room, I hope she knows to look for a student in underwear.
Yesterday we hiked to Laguna Esmeralda (Emerald Lake). The hiking took about two hours, while sinking in the deep mud (brown is fashionable!), taking pictures of the amazing mountains that surrounded us and getting to know each other a little bit better.
We learned about rocks, and I was surprised to know that 40 million years ago Tierra de Fuego was a part of Antarctica! Yes, it was covered with ice, and 40 million years ago we could walk to Antarctica from here. Ah! We missed it. And I also miss all of you guys.
The lagoon is made of glacier water that runs from the top of the mountains. Therefore its temperature is slightly above zero. There were some individuals that were enticed to jump in - I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Inconceivable sublimity. And they actually enjoyed it; at least they got the spongy moss off themselves (I bet you are thinking “wait, what about the way back?” - well they enjoyed it on the way back too). The flock veered and we headed to the bus. I got “trapped” in a deep muddy moor, so three people came to rescue me. After that, they took us downtown. We scuffed our way to the stores, wearing those cumbersome rubber boots.
I had a great time yesterday, and walking in places that look like a sty, made the experience more palpable, and thickened my stamina.
I hope everyone’s is ok. I’m thinking about each one of you all the time.
I have to go to the bus – Lehitarot
Antarctica still looks like a wild dream.
Posted by Megan Hawk, student
It is day 4 at 8:20 in the morning. Yesterday we went to a park in Tierra del Fuego. It was quite muddy. We started the morning out with breakfast at 7:00 am, afterwards we had a 30-40 minute drive to the mountains, luckily they provided us with muck boots and for some of the people including me it was a godsend.
After getting the boots on, we started our 2-hour hike. At first it was fine, BUT then we got in to the bog part on the hike which was in the end the best. Some people started getting stuck and couldn’t move but we all pulled together and helped each other out. We walked through the bog for about 45 minutes, then, we hit the forest.
When we started into the forest it was fine and straight, but further into the forest more roots popped up and then it was a hike almost straight up. That was hard for some people.
The sights so far have been spectacular! The mountains are covered with snow and trees.
After getting out of the forest we headed into another bog that was even bigger then the first. It was covered in peat moss and it was really soft and spongy. Later we had another hike up and this one included rocks and mud and it was really hard.
After we got over the hill we saw what we hiked for, a giant lagoon! It was so pretty and blue with trees behind it against mountains with snow covered tops. We ate lunch there while 2 students and 2 chaperones decided they wanted to go SWIMMING!!! Just watching them go swimming made us cold because it was about high 40s with wind.
During lunch we looked at the scenery, learned about bedrock, the glacier, and that the forest where we were standing was the youngest in the world – only 8000 years old. Then we hiked back with more people getting stuck and falling. Going over the last part of the bog being so close to the end some of the girls and guys got stuck and one of the girls did a face plant onto the mud!!! It was really funny but at the same time not.
After we got back we got warmed up and went back into town. We spent some time in Ushuaia shopping around. Some of us, including me, got to meet a giant penguin and get a picture with him. Also, on the main street 3 of us saw an ice cream shop! So we decided we would get some. All 3 of us being from America weren’t used to the metric system and we ordered 2½ kilos of ice cream! The owners were very unsure of our request and asked if we were sure of what we wanted. We said yeah, thinking it would only be about a cup each. What a pleasant surprise!!! So on our way back to the bus we got plenty of stares. When we made it back to the bus everyone was gasping at one of the 3 of us. We all ate it in less than 2 hours!
Posted by Brittany Pieters, student
Today is our last day in Ushuaia which is very exciting and sad at the same time. Over the last couple of days we have had many adventures. When I joined the trip I thought the adventure would begin in Antarctica but I realize now that the journey started when I got on my plane in Michigan. Arriving in Miami to meet the other students I was really nervous but soon found a bunch of kids and leaders who were just as geeked as me to go to Antarctica. After arriving in Ushuaia (by the way I am glossing over the amazing flights and all they entailed) we took a bus to go to our hotel where we were given our roommates and much needed down time. After dinner we met most of the education staff and were introduced to everyone in the room. It was amazing to find out that in our group there were over 15 countries represented.
On the second day we woke up early. After breakfast we boarded the bus and prepared for a long hike in the heart of Tierra del Fuego. Once we arrived, everyone put on rubber boots and we started our hike. We began on sheet rock but soon found that most of the hike consisted of mud, mud, more mud and moss. Many people “lost” body parts in the mud. But at the same time even though we got stuck people to helped each other and it was a good bonding experience. After two and a half hours (again glossing over the details of a VERY strenuous hike) we reached Laguna Esmeralda where we sat down and ate lunch. The lake was clear and beautiful and some of the students and leaders decided to swim in the very cold water. At the lake most of us took the opportunity to take pictures with the glacier in the background. After a while we began our hike back. It seemed like the mud was a lot harder to get through on the way back and many people got stuck. We finished the hike and talked about the changes to Argentina’s environment from things like bringing in beavers. All of us boarded the coach and headed to town where most people bought trinkets, postcards, and gifts. But some others (no names needed) brought KILOS of ice cream!
At the end of the day after dinner we headed to another briefing where the people who had arrived from Buenos Aires were introduced. We did an ice breaking activity where we had pictures that were divided into pieces. Everyone had at least one and went around the room trying to finish the puzzle. When the pictures were complete we had to reflect on it or say a question. It gave us a good sense of what we wanted to get out of the trip.
It was an amazing day in Ushuaia!
Ushuaia, Argentina - 9 :47 am EST
Posted by Atala Bolanos, student
Two days ago I got up in the morning and realized this was the day I would be meeting everybody else on my trip and going to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Needless to say, I was nervous. We got on the taxi to get to the airport, and I felt like my breakfast was about to come back out. What if they didn’t like me? What if they had already made friends? I was prepared to jump out the taxi's window and make a run for it, but I was too late, we were already there. It took them a while to arrive, and when they did, I was introduced politely and I just smiled. This is a disaster! I thought, no one was talking to each other, and I felt it was my fault. But just as those thoughts crossed my mind, a tall boy came up to me and stared making conversation. To me, to us, and they seemed really friendly! Soon we met the rest of the people, and we headed to our terminal. There, I met more incredible people, and we played some games, and asked some questions about the different places we came from. Soon, it was time to board the plane, and as I discovered no one I knew was seated next to me, I began to get nervous again. I was out of my comfort zone again, and who knows if this encounter would go as well as the last one. I discovered I was seated next to a Portuguese girl, and we stared talking animatedly as soon as we were seated. Later on in the flight, I met the rest of the people from Portugal, and had lots of fun, the 3-hour flight that I'd thought would be endless, felt like minutes because of the fun I had. Aside from the fact I thought I would die in the landing, the flight was smooth. When we got off the plane, the sights we saw were breathtaking, nothing like I had never seen before. Living in Mexico, near a desert, you never get to see mountains covered in snow, and green grass and flowers all around. We got to the hotel, and we were given our rooms, and I found my roommates were really nice and friendly.
The next day, we did a REALLY hard hike to get to Lake Esmeralda. It was muddy, steep, tiring, but it was worth it. Lake Esmeralda was beautiful, and we could see the glacier clearly in the mountains. On the way back, I fell a few times in the mud, but realized how much people were bonding by helping each other out of the mud, and having a few good laughs. But then, the most horrible thing happened, I fell waist deep in the mud. My tall friend from before helped me out of the mud, and I felt miserable, until I saw the rest of the people covered in mud and laughing. I joined them, and we finished our hike with no more falls, at least no more falls for me. I had a lot of fun, and had a nice dinner, and a good night’s rest. Today we leave for Antarctica in the afternoon, and I will miss Ushuaia, but I am looking forward to this new challenge.
Ushuaia, Argentina - 4:00 pm EST
Posted by Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
All are onboard the M/V Ushuaia and we have just set sail!!!
Every student is up on deck. The seas are calm and spirits are high! It feels great to be leaving civilization behind . . .Next stop Antarctica!
Posted by Ankur Gupta, student
And we’re off!! Once again, I woke up half an hour early. The sun actually kind of set last night. It got dark for a little while but this morning was bright as day again. Today was more of a preparatory day. We took a bus to a spot where the view was absolutely gorgeous. We could see the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego while we stood on the Argentine side.
Clouds. That’s what stuck out the most in my mind. In the Arctic, we had a climatologist on board who taught us to not just constantly look at the horizon for scenery. The skies have life too. The clouds in the Arctic and this area perfect the setting. I noticed two layers of clouds. Cirrus clouds (the flaky wispy ones) high up and a lower layer of cumulus clouds (the big…real big puffy ones). There was one cumulus cloud that closely resembled a ship. Could this be a sign? A ship-like cloud floating through the heavens means a ship will soon be floating through a heaven on earth? Only time will tell.
After this stop we went on a very, very short hike: nothing like the muddy paradise of yesterday. I also get the chance to try out a local drink. It is called mate (“mat A”) and it reminded me of green tea. Argentineans take certain herbs and mix it with hot water in a gourd-type cup and use a special straw with a built in filter to drink it. It tasted very similar to green tea. After the hike we went to what we were waiting for the most: our ship the MV Ushuaia. It is a retired research vessel that is smaller than the Explorer. The Explorer was the ship I was on in the Arctic and yes, that is the same exact ship that went down in Antarctica and was all over the news a few weeks ago. It may be smaller in general, but my room is a whole other story. My room is probably the biggest on the ship and looks like it came from a hotel. It is a suite that I share with 2 others, the same roommate from the UAE and another one from Florida who is planning on joining the Air Force. I am also on the same floor as all the chaperones and right across the hall from our expedition leader. The rest of the afternoon consisted of dinner, briefings and getting acquainted with the ship.
Well, we’re on the move now down the Beagle Channel where we have Chile on starboard and Argentina on port side. Tomorrow we reach the Drake Passage which is supposed to be some of the roughest seas in the world. Some expeditioners are gearing up with Dramamine and Gravol for the day tomorrow. Unfortunately, this entry is going to be short as the day’s events were mostly preparatory. So I’ll end with my random tidbit of the day. There is a student on this trip from Canada who is actually the younger brother of my roommate on my Arctic expedition. Ironic, isn’t it? With a connection between the expeditions like that, it makes me wonder what other kinds of connections I will find over the next 10 days. Will they be good or bad? I’m hoping for the good but I’m afraid the connections between the Arctic and Antarctic will not look too good. Only time will tell.
Posted by Atala Bolanos, student
Today had to be the most incredible day of my life. I woke up, groggily rubbed my eyes, and reached out to pick up that really annoying phone. “Wake up call!” a cheery voice answered on the other side. I merely grunted and hung up. It took me all the way up to breakfast to realize were I was, and what I’d be doing today. In two words; boarding the ship. Okay that was three, but boarding and ship are the ones that count.
But before that, we had a relaxing hike and walk in Tierra del Fuego National Park. And good news, no mud. We had breakfast at a beautiful camping site in the middle of a forest, and the rabbits happily kept us company as we ate.
We then had two hours to just hang around Ushuaia, and buy some gifts and trinkets. Yes Paulina, Francis, Francisco and all the rest, I got you something, don’t worry. Two hours was too much time for us, considering we had visited the same place yesterday, so my two friends and I just sat and chatted, waiting for the time to board the bus to our ship. I have to say, when I first saw our ship, I thought it was tiny! It was next to these two giant mega-big cruise ships, so it looked much like how I look when I’m next to my friend Jamal: puny. But as we boarded, I began to love it more and more. We had a really horrible and claustrophobic alarm drill, and a nice dinner. Later, we had a briefing (a conference type thing) and then went out to the freezing cold to albatross watch. These birds were amazing and left me with a sense of peace and happiness.
Posted by Felicia Vanacore, student
So, today is Dec. 28, 2007 and this is my first entry. I hope to be writing everyday. I must say that a change of feelings has occurred already. The first two airplanes weren’t that bad... but I can’t say the same about the third. But once we finally got to the hotel I felt a lot better. The people that I met and am still meeting are really cool. I only met four other students from NYC before the trip actually started and they seemed cool but as we went onto the plane together we just got really close. When we got to the hotel and realized we weren’t together we were a little nervous because it already seemed as if people were already in cliques and I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be in any of them but I was wrong. I had to room with three other girls and I am so glad that I did because they are amazing. Everyone here is from completely different backgrounds and it’s so wonderful to hear all the accents and learn about how different and similar we are. I started off having a lot of fun and it just got better.
Today we finally boarded the ship. Compared to the other ships around it, it didn’t look that big but once I stepped inside I was amazed. I have never seen or been on a ship like this before. The rooms are kind of small but I know my roommate and it doesn’t seem so bad. The dinner was good; I have been trying new food! This ship is really cool. Right now it’s about 10:15 pm and it is freezing outside but I must say the site is beautiful. I will not lie, I am a little nervous because everyone is saying that everyone will get sea sick and I really do not want to get sick. I think it will be exciting to wake up and be at sea. I am probably going to bed soon because today was a long day.
We went for a walk at the National Park in Argentina and it was beautiful. The view over the water reminded me of home at Astoria Park but this view is a hundred times better. The city view is gorgeous but this view was unexplainable. Then we went to another place and did a half hour hike. These mountains have snow at the top and it’s a million times better to see it in person than it is in a picture or on TV. We saw a rabbit and it was really cute. Today was a lot of walking and a lot of time on the bus. We even went back to town and did about two hours worth of shopping and took a lot of pictures. It was a lot of fun and I am picking up on my Spanish skills. But now here we are our new home for the next 11 days. I do miss home and my friends a lot and I wish they were able to experience this with me, but I know that when I get back, I will share my stories and look back at all the photos and say how worth it this whole trip was. It’s only the fourth day and I am already having a great time.
Everyday we have these meetings that they call briefings, and everyday the staff talks about their experiences and share stories about Antarctica and it made me even more excited to go. They say that you will either create yourself or find yourself, and the feeling you will get will change the way you look at the world. That made me want to just be there that very second because it sounds amazing that one place has made so many people change the way they look at things and because of this one experience, it made a man want to share it with everyone! That’s a really big deal because this is just one part of the world, and for one place out of all the places that Geoff Green has visited, this is the one that inspired him the most. I hope to get this feeling and be able to share it with everyone when I get back. I can’t wait to understand how all the adults here feel and I want to really understand and want to be able to relate to how they feel. Well it’s getting kind of late and I am really tired and still need to unpack my stuff but I will be writing again tomorrow night so make sure to check it out! Goodnight everyone!
Posted by John Quinesso, Chaperone
Well… we’re off and running!
After two days in Ushuaia, it was time to be on our way! The past two days have been fun and exciting meeting students and adults from all over the world - all eager to take this incredible adventure to the bottom of the earth! Setting sail this evening at 6:00 PM (4:00 PM EST) on our very own expedition ship (the MV Ushuaia) and the subsequent welcome dinner that followed, solidified the fact that our adventure was indeed underway!
So far, at 11:20 PM, the seas are calm and everyone has been tucked away for the night – not forgetting; however, that we are heading for the turbulent seas of the Drake Passage during the night and for the next day or so. Sea sickness pills taken and patches well affixed behind the ear – everyone appears to be well prepared. Time will tell!
We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow with lectures and seminars throughout the day together with students forming committees, journaling, and sharing life experiences from around the world. How fortunate everyone is to be a part of this incredible journey.
Stay tuned for more as our adventure of a lifetime continues.
Cheers to you all…and to all a good night!
Posted by MacKenzie Lunney, student
HI EVERYONE FROM THE DRAKE PASSAGE!!!! I want to say that I miss all of the people I know, family included, but I am actually not too homesick yet. This trip has got to be the most amazing trip that anyone will every go on! I cannot believe that I am on my way to Antarctica, the only country NEVER to have had a war before. Ushuaia was absolutely beautiful. Mountains, mountains, mountains!!!! The only real mountains I can ever recall seeing in my lifetime (Kansas doesn’t have too many). We went hiking in a peat bog/swamp and it was horribly fun. I was the first one to get totally stuck in mud. One boot sunk down to almost my knee then the other got suck. As I was trying to get unstuck, since my boots were a bit too big, my foot came out and sunk into the mud! I was totally submerged to my KNEE with just a sock on. While working on getting unstuck, my other foot came out and sunk in (luckily not as far) and I had to have multiple people help pull me out. Obviously, if you know me, I got stuck many, many times afterwards. Thankfully, my foot did not slip out of my boot again and I was not the only one to get stuck. Right afterwards, we had to go into town, some of use with muddy clothes and boots. I will never forget my first time in a bog.
The people here are amazing as well. I remember being in Australia and Europe (France, Italy and Greece), and being the odd one out and not making many “friends.” I cannot believe how many people have accepted me and my weirdness. It also amazes me how diverse my group of friends, and the whole group in general, are. There are people from Florida, California, Arkansas, Arizona, New York, Israel, Japan, Britain, New Zealand, Mexico, Portugal, Canada, and sooooo many more places! Everyone is so nice and accepting of our “family!”
We have left Ushuaia today and boarded our ship after visiting the National Park here. Right now we are on the waters and sailing towards the Drake Passage. We will hit it tonight around maybe midnight. I am hoping that I won’t get seasick. I never have and hope I never do. The views that we are getting to see are absolutely spectacular. I cannot imagine how horrible it will be when this trip is over. I’m going to miss everyone so much, but it won’t be too bad to be back home with my friends and family. Well, I’ll hopefully have something posted tomorrow and tell you how rough the Drake Passage is and if I got seasick and was throwing up! LOVE YOU!!!
Posted by Sara Hollingshead, student
Greetings from the Beagle Channel!!
We are now sailing the Beagle Channel, heading towards Antarctica. The past four days have been amazing! My various flights from Boston to Ushuaia were fine, no lost luggage or problems for me.
Ushuaia was beautiful. Luckily, I had a window seat on the plane, and was able to see the snow covered mountain tops, along with the water and trees. Up close, Ushuaia was even better. Our hotel was very close to the mountains, and some what removed from town, but it had a spectacular view.
Our first full day in Ushuaia was a full day hike. It was a two and a half-hour hike to a beautiful lagoon, through bogs, woods and mud. Even though it was muddy and wet, it was a great experience. When we reached the lagoon, four people went swimming while we ate lunch; it looked very cold.
After our hike, we were able to spend time in town. Megan, Emily, Bennett and I went off in search of food and found an ice cream place. My Spanish came in handy, though we ended up ordering very large ice creams. Bennett and Megan ordered a kilo of ice cream each, while I got a half a kilo… at dinner, none of us were hungry.
Today, we spent the morning at the Tierra del Fuego National Park. We had a short and easy hike, and had a beautiful view of the end of mountains and water.
Afterwards, we had more time in Ushuaia and shopped some more. Then, it was time to board the ship! There were about four ships at the Ushuaia port, including a Celebrity Cruise line ship. Compared to the others, the MV Ushuaia is small, but I think it’s a great size for our group, and our destination. The MV Ushuaia has a lot of deck space, which is great for us, as we are able to spread out and explore.
We have had various briefings, with Geoff explaining various aspects of our trip; all have been very insightful and exciting. The lectures haven’t even started yet, and I have already learned so much; from bed rocks to whales and dolphins. The Education team is amazing.
We were just outside looking at passing Albatrosses, and the wind is definitely getting to us. It’s time to take out the parka.
We will pass into the Drake Passage in a few hours, and hopefully we will have a “Drake Lake,” and I will not suffer much from sea sickness.
Hope all is well at home, as I am doing great and having an amazing time!
Posted by Jamal and Noor Alfalasi, students
We decided to cut the fat and get straight to the good stuff. So here we go.
Normal day today, went to a national park and then to the main street to buy some chocolate. Then, we boarded the ship. Before we continue, we just wanted to let our family know, and we are sure they do, that we miss them loads. Without them in our life, we are like fish without water.
Moving away from our sorrow, we set sail to Antarctica today. As we left the bay of the southern most city on earth, the last colonized city on earth, all that we could think of was how we are symbolically leaving humankind behind and heading to an icy utopia.
It is our curfew time now so we have to go to bed.
With all due respect,
Jamal and Noor Alfalasi
Posted by Ale Cueva, student
Today we woke up and went to Tierra de Fuego National Park. We didn’t walk as much as yesterday, but the park was really pretty and it didn’t have mud - yey! After our 40 minute walk through the park we arrived at the last kilometer on the Pan-American Highway. It was a really nice park, but all we thought about during the hike was what the boat was going to be like. After the National park we went to the town in Ushuaia to buy last minute things. Also, they had to put the luggage in the boat so we weren’t allowed in yet, hahaha. There we had really good Argentinean ice cream and I spoke with my parents, yey!!!!
After two exhausting hours of shopping, the staff finally took us to the ship. The ship we are on is called Ushuaia. It is much smaller than the celebrity cruise that was beside it but it has everything you need, it even has a library.
Of course the first thing we did in the ship was review the safety instructions and the emergency exist instructions. They were kind of boring but really important. Then we got time to rest and hang out on the deck. We finally saw some albatross! The albatross is the largest sea bird in the world. His head is the size of a human head and its wings can spread out to 3 metres! I love them and the staff says that we will see many more during our journey. I can’t believe we are finally on the ship and I can’t wait to get to Antarctica!
Ale Cueva from Mexico / a.k.a. Paris
P.S. - I miss you mum (Estela) and dad (Rogelio) and both sisters (Emmaestela and Sofia)
Posted by Emily Anderson, student
This morning I awoke to another beautiful scene in Ushuaia, Argentina. My room had a stunning view of the Beagle channel. This has helped me take multiple photographs that will help me remember this breathtaking area. After checking out of our hotel, we headed out to explore the national park of Tierra del Fuego. Thankfully, the hike today was not as muddy as yesterday’s treacherous trudge through the peat bog.
After our final hike we spent about two hours in town. There is one main street which has all the necessities. We found an ice cream shop, but unfortunately my Spanish is very poor. Three members of my group ended up ordering and finishing a kilo of ice cream. After our adventure in the town, we headed off on our boat!
At first, I was truly nervous to step onto our boat. Once we set sail and went through the precautions everything seemed to be okay. We still have yet to start the Drake Passage. I’m hoping that the weather won’t be terrible so I can bear the boat ride to Antarctica!
Today made me realize how lucky I am to be here and what an amazing opportunity this is. So far my trip has been extremely different from others but something I will look back on for the rest of my life. I have met many different people from all over the world. I think our team consists of fifteen countries, which is incredible. I feel honored to share this experience with so many people.
Posted by Irene Shivaei, student
We are spending a very good time here; everything is fantastic! Yesterday we went to a forest in the mountain slopes of Tierra del Fuego. There was mud everywhere. I got stuck about 5 times! That was so fun! After a long walk through forest, we got to a lagoon. It was surrounded by lots of trees. It was so peaceful. We had our lunch there.
On the way to the lagoon, there was a place that just looked like a graveyard of trees! All the trees looked like dead trees; gray and broken! After a while I realized the reason was that the land is so young, just about 40 million years old and the soil is so thin. Do you know why? It’s so interesting! About 10,000 years ago this area was full of glaciers, just like Antarctica! And then because of warming, those glaciers melted and turned into lagoons and trees and mountains (bed rocks!). Isn’t that weird?!? Is Antarctica going to become a place like this some million years later? I don’t like it...
Now we are onboard the ship and it’s 10:30 P.M. We just saw a lot of black and white birds – Albatross?! The sky is not getting dark yet.
I miss you everybody a lot. Everything is OK. Don’t worry about me!
Posted by Tim Medeiros, student
"Tales From the Crip: The Clinic and Boarding"
For those concerned about my ankle, I was able to go to the clinic today and the doctor said simply to ice and elevate for two days. It was an interesting trip though, with the language barrier and all. The doctor didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Spanish. The price was right too, only 100 pesos, compared to the roughly $100 USD price it would be back at home at a comparable clinic. After a walk for a few hours around town in Ushuaia, and a nice lunch, courtesy of the company since the people I was with and I were not able to go to the National Park with the rest of the group, we boarded a small (compared to the Celebrity Infinity docked across the pier) vessel that would become our home away from home, the M/V Ushuaia. This ship has a largely Argentinean and capable crew and officers. We learned later in the day that the Second Officer has actually worked with Students on Ice before in the Arctic. After a safety briefing and exercise, a welcome message from the Captain, and departure from port we started steaming down the Beagle Channel and into the Drake Passage. This is a good beginning to what I hope will turn out to be a great voyage.
Posted by Kasey Fausak, student
So, we boarded the ship today, and it’s amazing. I was sort of having anxiety attacks while we were waiting in the bus before we boarded the ship. The hotel had internet, and even if my phone card didn’t work, knowing that there were phones around put me at ease. On the ship there’s neither internet nor normal phones, and we’ll be on it for a week, so I was freaking out about contact to the outside world. What if something happened back home and they needed to get in touch with me? But it’s better now that I’m on the ship, and I know I have tons to do, so I’ll be distracted.
There was an albatross sighting earlier, supposedly, and nearly everyone ran outside. There was, of course, no albatross. I love being out on the deck, though. It’s a little chilly and we haven’t even left the Beagle Channel, but I love the wind out there. It’s awesome!
Earlier today we went to the National Park in Tierra del Fuego, and I really wish we could have spent more time there. It was so pretty and the air was so nice! We had three stops in total, the first being by a harbor, or ocean, or gigantic lake of some sort, where we took a short hike through the forest. The second was by a river and open area, with both a trail that was above everything and wooden, and one that was just through the open plain area. In the open plain area there was a patch of mud and everyone started freaking out because we all thought it would be like yesterday’s debacle. It turned out to be, however, just as some wise staff member put it: “mud is just wet dirt.”
Seriously though. No one can ever say they fell in mud until they fell in a peat bog.
The third stop was for lunch. After the park we went shopping, and I bought like a quarter pound (or kilo, or whatever) of chocolate.
Anyway, I’ve already taken around two hundred pictures. I’ve also discovered that I like rivers, streams, coasts and open land more than forests, which is something interesting that I never thought of before.
After that we went shopping, and I’m really amazed at everyone’s ability to speak English so well! I always knew that practically everyone in the world knew English as at least a second language, but now that I’m seeing it first hand I feel like an idiot. People in the stores start talking to me in Spanish, and all I can do is give a polite but confused look and say “I’m sorry?” Then they’ll be all “Oh, you speak in English. May I help you?” And I’m always asking to pay in American dollars. It’s really been an experience that puts your ego in check, that’s for sure.
Posted by Roberta Maiz, student
Today we got to spend a beautiful morning in the National Park of Ushuaia. I found it very interesting that we were in the southernmost park of the whole world. We began by taking a bus to the National Park where we were going to spend the morning and be eating a delicious lunch. We were all eager to finish our final day in Ushuaia, and to finally board our new home.
Yesterday was a really interesting day. We went hiking all around mountains and beautiful landscapes; our goal was to reach Laguna Esmeralda. The first few minutes we were just walking happily as we talked to our new friends from all over the world, but we didn’t realize that we had a whole challenge in front of us. Mud, mud, mud and more mud was what lay ahead of us. I never thought that mud was all that bad. I learned that mud is not always a fun thing to mess with. We walked through miles and miles of mud, trying to get to the Lagoon in order to rest and eat our lunch. Some of us fell various times, got our butt covered with mud, lost our boots which were stuck in the mud, and got stuck inside the mud while trying to help others get out of the mud. We finally got the Laguna Esmeralda, a lovely site surrounded by mountains, snow, glaciers and trees. We ate our lunch and took millions of pictures. Some of the students including two of the chaperones (one of them Miss Ungrin, a teacher from my school) decided to go into the Lagoon. It was freezing, but they enjoyed it. When going back to the beginning of our journey, people started thinking they were experts with mud. They were wrong. We walked through a beaver creek and an extremely muddy area. People got stuck, their boots, butts and pants got all covered by mud. This was a thrilling adventure that I will never forget about. Later on that day, we spent the afternoon walking around Ushuaia.
Everyone was scared of hunting excursions, but the one that we did today was not as bad as the one we survived yesterday. The National Park of Ushuaia is the southern most park in the whole world. It is also the end of the National Highway Number 3 all the way from Alaska to here. We had a nice walk around the park and got to visit some lakes and rivers. Also, we learned about the flora and fauna in this area. It is very interesting how the theory of Pangaea and Plate Tectonics can be seen and deeply understood by seeing different trees, rocks and mountain ranges. The same types of trees are found in the other side of the world, all the way in Australia, also similar rocks. It was an amazing site and I could not believe I was there.
We will now be boarding our ship, it is called Ushuaia, and it will be our new home. We were all waiting for this time to come. Setting sail is the most marvelous thing, especially when you are surrounded by a huge range of mountains with a sprinkle of snow on its peaks. Today we learned all the safety procedures, had a small tour around the icebreaker, and got to sail on the Beagle Channel. It’s a wonderful and an extremely safe ship. We also have a marvelous crew, chaperones and of course, a great number of students from all around the world.
I can’t wait to get to our destination, Antarctica. I believe it will be an extremely exciting trip. I am thankful that I could come to this continent that is rarely visited by tourists. This expedition will not only be part of my memory, but it will change my perspective of many things. I look forward to learn how Antarctica has been affected by climate change and global warming. I have to go now, hope to write soon!
P.S. - Greetings to my family, who are in Mexico, my friends and the ones I love.
Posted by Zoë Caron, Chaperone
The Here and Now of Terra del Fuego
For the past 3 months I have been itching in anticipation of visiting and embracing and learning about the wonders of Antarctica – the end of the Earth. What I never expected was that the spot right next to the end of the Earth – the province of Terra Del Fuego at the Southern tip of Argentina – would take my breath away before I even had a chance to take my first breath of mountain air.
We flew in straight from Buenos Aires. We descended from a bed of pure white down into what I thought was a mirage of mountains coming up straight out of the sea. As we got closer to land I saw that it was entirely real; the city of Ushuaia is where the ocean meets the houses that meet the trees that meet the grey jagged mountains that meet the scattered summer snow patches. Everything is right in front of you and demanding your attention and, undeniably, your respect.
Our first day of exploring brought us to what felt like another planet. On our way to Laguna Esmeralda, we sprang over beds of red, yellow and bright green moss and attempted to gracefully pass through mud patches imitating quicksand. The 360 degree view was of the same mountains that greeted us upon landing – sitting patiently, and always watching us. The glacier above fed fresh water into the laguna, making for a very (very) refreshing swim. Four and a half hours of hiking were properly completed with a group field trip to the local artisan chocolate shop (I feel this is a necessary duty of mine as a Chaperone).
Today brought us to the National Park, which was exciting and calming at the same time. The sun came out and reminded me – and many of us, I am sure – of how lucky we are to be where we were at that exact moment. For every second that goes by, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the “here and now” of everything we are experiencing together – and how rare it is to even BE here. Now.
As we are on route partially down the Beagle Straight, heading towards the anticipated Drake Passage, the sky has finally dimmed a little – hinting us to rest before our first full day at sea tomorrow.