Penguins in Antarctica
Backpacking, Eight Months On the Road
By Bus Through South America
By David Rice  
Page Thirty Two

The penguins would be crowding the shoreline making their nest of rocks if they could find them. A shortage of rocks would cause many a squabble with thrashing wings as the birds fought over the scarce nesting rocks but doing no apparent permanent damage to each other.
In this surreal deep freeze, the only thing alive were the birds, fish, penguins, seals and the algae that grows on the rocks.

Every night the naturalists would present a movie about what me might encounter the following day. In the evenings they would brief us on the life we would see and these presentations even included some Shackleton lore

Bright clear air in the evening and mornings brought the most unusual light that I have ever seen. Huge glaciers calving made their presence know with rumbles echoing throughout the sea of icebergs as they fell.

One afternoon we pulled into a bay close to shore and circled the bay as glaciers fell all around us . We had an outdoor barbecue on deck where the crew grilled chicken and sausage as we drank wine and watched the amazing calving of glaciers all around us.

At sunrise one morning we went into a bay full of icebergs and climbed on top of a few of them where a few of us had a snowball fight. A close look  revealed unusual colors caused by the continual slapping of waves.
We visited an English research station and found a whale skeleton up on the ice.
One of the rules impressed upon us was that we were not allowed to leave anything onshore. It seemed, however, that cigarette smokers never got the word.
On another trip ashore we entered a volcanic lagoon were the water was warm and we were able to swim in the Antarctic Ocean from a black volcanic sand beach. Lots of warm drink followed that trip. The crew had Courvoisier and hot coffee waiting to warm us up.  
On another trip ashore, I had basalt rocks with surreal rock formations on one side while on the other side seals and penguins moved all around me and I felt like I had entered a Dali painting.

Each day for the seven days of the tour through Antarctica we went ashore in the morning and then again in the afternoon. We had stepped on the continent of Antarctica a total of fourteen times and at the last visit, the crew awarded us a certificate stating as much. I marveled that I had reached the bottom of the world and I felt privileged to be there.

I know that these trips might someday be halted because of the damage that so many tourists are causing. I have read rumors about the end of tours to this area. I felt lucky to have made the trip and to be one of the privileged few on earth to sail through the Drake Passage and to circle Cape Horn. The last night on board we had a party and the wine and liquor flowed freely.
To circle Cape Horn earns a sailor the right to put a ring in his ear. I will pass on that honor, however.

Penguins in Antarctica
Backpacking, By Bus Through South America
Eight Months On the Road
By David Rice  
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