WEEK FIVE ON THE HIGH COLD SEAS
The plan is to leave the icy regions of Antarctica behind, sailing north heading for warmer waters. We have nearly touched the Antarctic Circle. About 70 miles away. Our Ice Pilot is Captain Pat Toomey. He has had his work cut out for him. The weather has changed, iceburgs have oved, the wind has kicked up to gale force and fog has set in. Not for easy sailing. So instead of heading for the Falkland Islands we are not going to be able to stop. We will make our way around the west side in hopes of finding calmer seas. I have not been out on deck for a few days. The wind is so strong I cannot open our verandah door. All the public rooms, along with the hall ways are freezing cold. Bouncing around like a cork in water. The decks are wet and very windy. Signs hanging on the exit door recommending not to go out, to windy. That said it all to me, so I have not been walking. Snowing so hard, the young men from Thailand ,working on the ship, went out and had a snow ball fight then built a snow man. don’t often see snow. We went around the Horn with no trouble, had a glorious day deep in the Artic Circle and now we are have all this bad weather on our way to Stanley. The seas are to high so we are not going to dock at the Falklands. We tender in and they feel it is to dangerous for everyone. I feel really bad, because this is where Bill was going to be with the penguins. Oh well, Mother Nature sure has her way.
To pass the time, we read, went to lectures and played dominois. Even went down to the Casino and played for awhile. I only start with so much and when that is gone so am I.
Lunches have been very interesting. We go into the dining room and they seat you with people. The couple we met at lunch earlier from Iowa took the shore excursion to the Antarctic Made a lunch date and they told us all about their adventure. They flew in a small jet, had lunch at the outpost and traveled in a small artic pontoon boat to see, walk and touch everything up close and personal. They paid 7 thousand dollars to go. Both said it was well worth it.
Today we had lunch with Heinz and Lil Hammerschlag from Calgery. They have been sitting behind us in the Theatre since we started, you know territorial seats. So after our lecture this morning, I asked them to join us for lunch. They are getting off in Africa, her sister lives there. Both were born in Germany, have no children. she said they go to shule once in a while, but she is a athiest. She has reason. Heinz represented manufacturing around the world and she worked in fashion manufacturing. Both have traveled the world a great deal for business and pleasure. She is my height and he about the same only very slight. The best is he is 92 and she 82 and both are very much with it and wonderful to talk with.
Spoiled myself today and had a facial. Felt wonderful, the ship is dry and have not been outside in days. People are getting claustrophobic, ready to do something other than look at the sea. So far, Bill and I are doing OK. Everything is new, and one has to deal with what ever is at hand. Believe me, no body wanted bad weather. Everyone is waiting for BA.
DAY 31 --- 32 -- AT SEA
Our crazy weather has not stopped. Fog most of the day today, Ship blew its fog horn every few minutes. Have to keep yourself busy and not looking out.
Lets see, we have been in 3 continents, and 3 oceans already. Each has been different and the same. Our speakers are Warren Salinger, John Splettstoesser,and Bob Hofman.. All have been on the Antarctic, from the wildlife research, living on the ice and everything in between. After listening to them, everything they say reinforces how lucky we are to have done this expedition. Everyone on the ship has felt the same. Some are already making arrangements to come back next year. I keep on thinking about Aaron and how he would enjoy seeing and listening to all this. It really has been a feast for the eyes and to much for my head. Just have to savior the moment .
This morning I woke up to warm breezes and blue skies. I hope we can go outside today. Ready for fresh air. Short lived, the weather is cloudy but the seas are calm, that is a good thing. Had a great morning. Went to my first cooking class. Just 12 with the guest chef. Mark handed out recipes, we had stations, and I cooked the fried rice. I think the best ingredient I learned to use was coconut milk. Made it sweet and not dry. Very tasty, can’t wait to serve it when we come home. He believes in cooking simply and with lots of vegtables. Right up my alley. Eveyone cooked a dish, they then plated it, and we went into the Pinnacle for lunch and wine. I have a signed apron as a sovinier and of course a chef hat. Great fun and learning too.
In the afternoon we played dominois. Dinner, show and the day is over. Very fun.
We were met at the pier by our guide Silvi and our whirlwind began. She talks and walks fast and that is how we saw BA for a day. From Casa Rosada where I waved from the balconey like Evita, we did Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisco , the may 9th wide blvd. The widest in the world. Glad it was Sunday and we really drove around very quickly After doing the regular tourists sights she took us off the beaten path and we went into beautiful neighborhoods with mansions and palaces. The area is called Barrco Parque. Lots of trees, Araucaua pine trees, Tipa trees, silk trees and lots of pampas grass. Stopped at the Hotel Recoleta that once was the Duhau palace and added onto. The addition was in very good taste and kept the beauty of the old palace. A mother,father in one palace, and each son had a connected palace of their own. Not to shabby. Taxes and upkeep on the palaces are astromonical so a lot of them are being sold. Of course the very,,very enormous ones are now Naval clubs and government offices. Don’t feel bad, the new high rises are coming up everywhere. They also are over the top and very expensive They have filled in the river front, moved the river and now are rebuilding the area. Women have become very vocal and they now have a bridge named the Womans Bridge. It is a way out white arched bridge that really looks like a schulpture rising out of the river. That is what I thought it was until they told me otherwise.
In front of the art museum is a scupture that has a green to red light color to it. When there is a lot of street noise the red color is dominient, when the street is quiet the greeen color is pronounced. We were there in a quiet time. Art sure has creative minds working . In front of another building it a rose that opens in the daylight and closes in the night. So much to see and learn.
Of course we were doing this in the rain. Finally gave up and went to the Antique Market. How fun is that. Bill bought a great cane. I could have stayed longer but the rain made it to hard to walk around with umbrellas. They say rain is unusual, but not when we travel. Weather is just one of our companions.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is the most unique bookstore in the world. It used to be a theatre. Its spectacular dome is a true masterpiece. Balconies and a stage that is now a tea room. Books everywhere and in many,many languages. Such a surprise and so interesting. Silvi teaches and she helped me pick out a few books.
Did you think we were done, not on your life, we had to have lunch. Lunch in BA is late. Between one and three. Of course we were on the late side. Stopped at a neigborhood pub and had empanadas and I had local beer. Both were outstanding. Even Bill enjoyed his veggie empanadas Think the bill for four was 15 dollars. Bottom line is that they were very good.
Lucky for us, we called home and hit a home run. Talked to Andrea, Stan,Libby, and Sybil. They were all together for the Beth El Raffle. Surprise…We did not win.
Back to the ship to rest and dress for the Tango show. We bused back into town and went to the Tango Show. It was very nice, even if I think it was a little touristy. Much easier for us to do it with the ship than go on our own. Late at night things are dicey in BA.. Two glasses of wine with the price of admission and nothing matters after that. Smart
BILL DOVE INTO BED.
DAY TWO IN BUENOS AIRES
We met with our new guide Roberto this morning and headed out to the Recoleta Cemetry. Quite a place. One must have a pedigree to have been one of the originals, and now also. Money does not count and neither does positon. Pedigree is the thing. Beautiful schptures and caskets. They have stairways down to the ground level for bodies. Also if the mosuleum becomes to full, the take out the bones, place them in a urn and put them on the shelf. Then they have space for the next generation. Very clean and beautiful. Watched a man cleaning a mausoleum. He used a soft corn broom, windex and wat3r. The\ family pays a lot of money to have someone maintain the grave site. The government will not spend the money. There are a lot of sites that have been abandoned. Spookey, they look like haunted house movie sets. I hope my pictures come out, bought a book just in case. Evita is buried here and it is not the most extravagant.
From there we went to the old synagogue. It was the first synagogue built in BA around 1934. It is not very fancy or a lot of gold. The Bimah is at the end of a long aisle, the eternal light and torah drapes are on the plain side. A balconey for women and best of all they have names on the seats. When it was new they installed a organ and choir loft. Neither are in use anymore. They are a mixed congregation. Conservitive and orthadox. They have a minyon every morning and evening. Didn’t say how difficult it was to find people. There are 90 synagogues in the city. Claim to be the second largest Jewish community. our guide tells me there is tension between the sfardic and askenasifc Jews. Leave it up to jews to argue among themselves.
Had lunch and finished sighting. Back to the ship ready to sail. Exhausted but had a wonderful experience. The guide the second day was not as good as Silvi. She had to have some unexpected surgery and her teacher took over. He was a wonderful teacher but did not listen to what I wanted to do However He told us how hard he had to work to retire, how corrupt the government is, yet he travels everywhere and works as a guide in the summer. None the less BA is noisey and busy. People are caring packages, horns are blowing and it has a beat to it. Beautiful new glass apartment buildings, crane arms in the sky everywhere and I guess the story that tells it all is the port was full of containers. Clean and people working on Sundays. Did I mention that there is a very active blackmarket in everything imaginable. Even car parts. Will have to look up the site WARNES. The unions are also very strong here. We are off to Montevideo.
We cruised all night on the Rio de la Plata River and arrived in Montevideo in the early Morning. The sky line and port ebtrance was twinkling with the night lights. The stars were still out and we dropped Anchor.
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, another capital city to mark off, and the largest city of Uruguay. Ari and Maria met us at the dock and we were off on another wonderful day. Nothing like seeing a city through the eyes of its residents. Went to Maria’s office in a beautiful building in the old town. It was early in the morning, warm and not to much air-conditioning. She was very proud that Master Charge is also in the building. They purchased it many years ago and she implied worth a lot more. From there we drowe around the city looking into the neighborhoods, commercial areas, the mall and then for a drink at their apartment. Purchased when they were married, it has a very modern layout. The boys want them to buy a house, don’t think she will. Of course they have a maid. Interesting. As in the states, most of the Jewish population are merchants, doctors and teachers they do not belong to a synagogue, go to all of them and donate to all of them. Very different way to belong. Yet she is active in her way. She is very proud that Ari is working in a bank and thinking about furthering his education. His girlfriend joined us, forgive I can’t remember her name. Most important she is adorable, beautiful blue green eyes,
and very bright. Works for Price Waterhouse for three years. She also is studing for the gmats. Had lunch at a local restaurant on the beach. Called Andrea for every one to say hello. Back to the ship, a outstanding experience. Lots of hugs and kisses and the promise to return. They are very warm and happy to have you as guests. Back to the ship and the sail away party. We are heading down the River towards Walvis Bay, Namibia.
My main observation for this week is the tug boats. They really play a very important part of our coming and going. Out of BA , One pushed while the other pulled us out of the dock. On another day, in a different port the wind was so bad in port they had their nose to our side to keep us against the dock. This morning they delivered the pilot to steer us into the harbor. Never thought about the necessity for their services. Really have an important function. The boats all look somewhat alike, very round and flat on the bottom, radar and tires all round the ship so as not to damage the ship they are helping. Wonder if they will be the same in Africa. Will have to wait and see.
500 people left the ship in BA and I think only 200 embarked. The tables around us in the dining room are empty. Supposed to pick up more people in Singapore. Really I like this amount of people is perfect, makes leaving the ship on the shuttles very fast. We have plastic cards that look like credit cards. They have a stip that they scan at the door and shows our picture, and becomes our personal passport. Our passports are in the valuts of the ship. Easy to travel in the city this way. Also functions as our room key and charge card on the ship. We are a cashless society aboard ship. A few passengers were victims of pick pockets, one fell at the Tango show and had to leave the ship. We are safe and on board ready for the 9 day sail.