Posted on December 31, 2010
In the city square of Punta Arenas, there is a huge statue of Magellan. Magellan overlooks the strait named for him, and he will grant you safe passage out of his strait and across the Drake if and only if you rub his brassy toe. So rub I did.
The weather picked up pretty significantly today: below is an attempted self-portrait in front of the pier… the face I’m making is a genuine “HOLY &$#@, I almost lost my laptop to that gust of wind!” This wind means business.
So, assuming our Drake crossing is going to be rough, I’ve spent the last day securely tying down everything in my lab on the ship. It feels good to break out my bandana and steel-toed boots. Do note the pink laces on my boots.
Last night we ate at a local restaurant; on our way, one of the ship techs told us that everybody should get the lamb. When we walked into the restaurant, I saw an entire lamb stretched over a fire pit and decided on fish instead. Two people sitting across from me got the lamb, though, which consisted of three “courses,” each from a different part of the animal. With each course, I noticed the lamb was removed from the fire pit and returned with a missing chunk. As a non-vegetarian, I at least appreciate knowing where my meat comes from…
We’re all looking forward to New Year’s Eve con cerveza on land, rather than rolling somewhere across the back of a 40-foot wave. Tomorrow morning we’ll leave the pier, and by the morning of the 2nd we should be well on our way to crossing the Drake. It’s a cool feeling, looking out across the water from the southernmost point on the mainland Americas, knowing you’ll be plowing through floating chunks of ice within a few days. Adios, y’all. Talk to you from the Drake!
Posted on December 29, 2010
I arrived yesterday in Punta Arenas, and this afternoon I moved aboard the ship. Lots of folks are stuck up north thanks to the snow, though, so our departure south will be delayed for a few more days. That’s probably for the best, since the Drake Passage has been angry this season – maybe now it’ll have a chance to calm down. Plus, there are definitely worse places on Earth to be stuck than Chile. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the warm-ish weather, not enjoying the loads of cat-calls elicited by my curly blond hair (though, as one of the older female scientists said: "some day they might not whistle anymore, so be flattered"), and trying to catch up on sleep so I can explore the city tomorrow.
Posted on December 26, 2010
This is why geese and retired couples migrate south for the winter. Good thing I’m heading south, too, though I may overshoot balmy Florida by a few miles…
TOMORROW I LEAVE FOR ANTARCTICA!
More than a year after my last blog post (let’s call it “busy” rather than “lazy”) I’m back on board with the Palmer LTER. Assuming my flight isn’t snowed-in, I’ll fly tomorrow to Punta Arenas, Chile, get some standard-issue Antarctic gear, and hop aboard the ARSV Laurence Gould. From there, we’ll churn out through the Strait of Magellan, then four days south through the world’s most notoriously tempestuous seas (think “Deadliest Catch” meets “Ice Road Truckers”), until we hit the Antarctic Peninsula for five weeks of research.