You guessed it. Another long absence from blogging meant another amazing trip. This time Jerry and I spent six weeks in South America and Antarctica.
Although I am not working chronologically, I would like to show you Antarctica first.
We had no idea what to expect in Antarctica. Lots of snow and ice? A pure white landscape? Frigid temperatures? Polar bears and penguins?
The beauty of this wild region was unexpectedly varied – and simply overwhelming. Jerry and I sat and stared, mesmerized, nearly the entire time we were cruising through the region.
Icebergs and glaciers were plentiful and beautiful. Every one is unique in shape and color. Some contain streaks of cobalt; others turquoise; still others seem simply and purely white.
The British naturalist Ian Rumley-Dawson lectured on our ship and provided a running dialogue as we cruised through Antarctica. He said that the flatter icebergs were more recently broken off from their glaciers. We saw so many that the concept of global warming was suddenly all too real.
Much of Antarctica is three miles deep with ice. And did you know the continent is larger than all of Europe and about 1 1/2 times the size of the United States?
Another fascinating fact is that only 15 percent of an iceberg is what you see above the water; the other 85 percent is underwater!
One day the captain was giving us his noon report and said “As we dodge our way around the icebergs…”
In the late summer, there are one million square miles of sea ice; in the winter there are seven million.
Wild life is abundant in Antarctica. We saw thousands and thousands of penguins! At first we thought we were seeing schools of flying fish – until we realized they were penguins fishing for their food. They jump up out of the water just like flying fish – who knew? There are also four kinds of seals: crab eater, elephant, leopard and fur. Whales are plentiful. While we usually see one or two whales at a time off our Hawaii waters, we saw dozens swimming together in Antarctica. There are no polar bears.
Bird life is also exciting and we loved watching the birds dive for their food. The albatrosses were amusing to watch.
I became obsessed with the cool hues in the icebergs. Lecturer Jay Wolff told us that the blues and greens are caused by the compression of snows, one on top of another. Over time, gravity compresses the ice crystals and the ice absorbs only blues and indigos. It’s all about refraction.
Please return for photos of Falkland Islands, Buenos Aires, Peru, Chile, Colombia and more!
– Paula Rath