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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

"Let the Sun Shine In"

I wrote these entries on Monday and Tuesday. It's now Wednesday morning and we're hanging around Ushuaia waiting to go to the airport. internet connection means we learnt that Stephen Hawkings died a few days after Ken Dodd - from the Sublime to the Ridiculous....

Monday 12th

One could feel resentful. This is the last day of our holiday and we’re at sea. It is early morning and the sun is streaming in through the porthole of our cabin. We had not one hour of sun while we were floating in and out of Antarctica’s many snow encrusted islands. There, grey seas and sombre skies set the tone as the mountains, black and moody, silently watched we interlopers.

Any sense of resentment would be infantile. We have spent 5 days in the presence of a giant, whose vastness we can only guess at. A slumbering, gentle Titan, at least while we were there, showed us the benevolent side of its nature. A month or so on, things would be quite different as the southern winter sets in.

It is too early to make sense of our experiences. They are a jumble of sights, sounds, smells (penguin poo!) and emotions. With time and reflection this magical place with take shape in the memory – a box of sweets to be opened on a cold, wet morning or a sun drenched evening, and delighted in.

Tuesday 13th 

We’re early and Cape Horn is directly ahead. On the way back Drake’s Passage was as passive as it was angry as we headed south. That means the boat flew across the waters and we are almost 24 hours ahead of ourselves.

We’re going to sail around a bit: currently we’re in the Pacific and on the port side there’s a lighthouse stranded on some rocks. We go out on the deck and snap away – we are surrounded by sea birds and amazed by their endurance – as we cross into the Atlantic. On a headland at Cape Horn is a monument shaped as an albatross: we don’t see it.

We’re hanging around, bobbing up and down, impatient for our landing at Ushuaia, but we have to wait. Our flight to Buenos Aires is not until tomorrow afternoon. That gives us plenty of time to sort out our luggage and catch up on a bit of shuteye. I am definitely winding down: it’s as if the excitement of the past few days has all piled up in a heap and I’m underneath it trying catch my breath.

I’m sitting in the lounge with others waiting for a talk on Shakeleton’s 1914 Antarctic expedition and on the screen a Cuban group is playing "Guantanamera". Another part of our re-entry programme to South America.

The farewell show was something special. A mixture of auction, thanks to the crew and expedition team. The Russian captain was as unintelligible as before. How any of the crew understands his commands is a mystery. It is clear, however, that he runs a very happy and efficient ship.

Kevin played a load of his own songs: he is extremely good! The auction raised loads of money for a charity the company supports. Finally we had a slide show of shots taken by our tour photographer Uri. There were some lovely shots of the crew and travellers as well as stunning ones of animals. All these will be accessible.

After that we were heading into Ushuaia and tied up as we had our final evening meal. Tomorrow we disembark and in the afternoon head for the airport and a plane to Bueno Aires. A night there and it’s a flight home.

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