Lauren and Alisia in the pool
Hola mi amigos y la familia!
Life at sea is still treating us well. James has truly gotten into the whole nautical theme by eating seafood for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Surprising he doesnt look like salmon yet. Lauren has a nice cluster of giggling girls to entertain her, including triplets from London and a girl at our dinner table from Houston. It really is multi cultural with James mixing with a guy from Norway (who has limited english but can act out stuff really well, he said) and another from Indonesia. It's amazing how kids will hang out and play for hours together when they dont understand what the other is saying.
The other night, we met up with Kevin from NZ and Damo and Jackie from Belfast. I can understand Kev perfectly but when the other three starting talking pineapple (this is a Dim phrase from Prague for when we couldn't understand Billy) then I'm lost.
Anyway, it's good to have a crew to hang with after dinner. The other night we had a big one with Kev from NZ. Billy and I had managed to solve all of his love problems over a couple of coronas. Yeah, take advise from us!! The following morning we hit Punta Arenas and it was not pretty. Not only was the town not pretty but neither were we. We had to tender to shore and it was particularly choppy. Arriving green, we set off on our scheduled tour. The idea was book the cheapest tour, and one that was listed as being really active (to avoid the oldies - sorry to any oldies out there). So we picked a trek through the Magellan forest. It was only 4 hours so it couldn't be too bad. Dim, you know what it's like to set off and climb a mountain when you're vomitously hungover so I dont need to describe my pain to you.
Heading into Punta Arenas
Billy and I were silent, partly because of the nausea and partly because we'd picked a really painful tour. We were with the most enthusiastic trekkers I'd ever seen. You know the routine, kitted out in full hiking gear and raring to go. They were 3 Norwegian families and they left us for dead. We were a pathetic group made up of two seriously hungover adults and two grizzling kids. Grizzling because it was absolutely freezing and we were hiking in the rain.
2nd formal night.
We reached the halfway mark and a sense of relief kicked in. Dim, are you having flashbacks to Mt Kinabalu, because it was so similar? Lauren moaned and groaned the loudest (no surprises there). As we reached the top of the mountain, the rain stopped. It was replaced by snow!! Yeah, we were hiking in the snow.
Luckily, I'd been sick by this stage so the nausea had gone and I could truly appreciate the complaining that Lauren was giving me. James wasnt complaining so much because he had something to do....he was making snow balls and throwing them at me and Billy. Really compressed snowballs hurt!!! Talk about kicking you when you're down! But finally, through lashing rain, freezing snow and chilling winds we made it to the summit where the lookout was. This lookout offered views over Magellan strait and out to Terra Del Fuego island...on a clear day. We couldn't see more than 2 metres in front of our noses because of the clouds that we were standing in. I'm sure it was a fantastic view and all but the kids didnt appreciate the almost 2 hour hike to get to a point where we were all standing and shivering in the falling snow.
The walk. Lauren's none too happy.
That's ok, the trek was over and we could get on the bus. Hmmmm, wonder where they are going to park the bus - we're kinda in the middle of nowhere having just trekked up hill for hours through a forest. Reality hit us all at different stages as we realised that having reached the peak to no view at all, we could now retrace our steps back to the parked bus, where we left it. Billy discovered this first and let me in on it. Then we broke it to Lauren and James - Lauren actually breaking into tears :( This was not the fun tour we'd signed up for. But, as you'd recall Dim, getting down a mountain can be done rather quickly when you're truly over it. A big hug for Lauren and the promise of a swim in the pool on ship at the end of it all and she found the stregth to soldier on.
I slept on the bus back into town where we hit the market for a while and did a bit of shopping. Punta Arenas did not leave a great impression on us all and we happily waved it goodbye that night.
Next day it was Ushuaia. This was the first day of no rain and chilling winds and we were all in our happy place. And why wouldn't you be - Ushuaia is absolutely stunning! Checkout the photos below if you dont believe me but this gateway to Antarctica is a small town of politeness and hospitality. Not only that, the snow capped mountains that enclose the town act as a perfect frame to the coloured buildings and swiss looking architecture that lie below it. We shopped here and found a nice little Irish pub. It just goes to show that the irish truly are everywhere!! So we had a beverage at the most southern irish pub in the world and enjoyed some papas fritas (chips).
Jokes were made about climbing the mountains around us and Lauren thought we were serious - she was actually enthusiastic, saying that she didnt think that the forest trek was all that bad. I wish my memory worked like hers.
This morning we sailed around Cape Horn. I'd been dreading this due to the reputation of being so rough - just think of the Crowded House song, 6 Months in a Leaky Boat where they sing
I remember you by thunderclap in the sky
Lightning flash, tempers flare, 'round the horn if you dare
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Lucky just to keep afloat
Thanks for this Katie! But luckily, we had a really smooth crossing. The captain pointed out where the Pacific ocean met the Atlantic - to be honest it all really looks like one big mass of grey water set against grey sky down here.
..quite bleak. But we are heading north again which we are all thrilled about. No more wearing two pairs of pants and mittens to keep warm. But down here we are seeing lots of albatross and other sea birds (ok, names escape me here, bird watching was never my specialty) and as I type this, Billy has just pointed out a pod of dolphins swimming up near our ship. Now that's something you dont see everyday!