"" Writer's Wanderings: Revisiting Antarctica - Land of Snow and Penguins!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Revisiting Antarctica - Land of Snow and Penguins!

Our first adventure in the zodiacs was at Cuverville Island. I think this was more a practice run so that the passengers would experience the organized routine of the excursions we were to take later. Passengers were divided into groups. Those traveling together were assigned to the same group. At a set time before our boarding the zodiac, we were to meet in a designated lounge and wait to be called. Our group was the last one on the schedule for the afternoon and as the sun dipped lower, I feared we might be canceled because of darkness.

We weren't canceled but between the clouds and the position of the sun, it was a bit dreary for taking pictures. Still, it was quite an adventure sitting in an inflatable boat and drawing near enough to the penguin colony on the island to be able to see them. The next day we would get to see them up close and personal.

The sun shone brightly the next morning, bleaching the snow and ice with a blazing white as we approached the Lamaire Channel. Our captain announced that because of the excellent conditions the Marco Polo had ventured farther south than it ever had before. However we still had not reached the Antarctic Circle.

We donned our parkas and watched the majestic icebergs that floated by our ship. They resembled giant white sculptures of contemporary art. The ice in the bergs was so pure and cold it actually looked blue--a phenomenon we had witnessed some of the glaciers in Alaska.

Mid-morning the Marco Polo turned and set course for Port Lockeroy on Weincke Island. Just before noon, we anchored in the bay. A change in the wind let us know that there was definitely a colony of penguins there. The smell of guano (the term for sea fowl excrement) greeted us. While the snow and ice is the purest white you can imagine, the home of the penguin colony colors it a dark orange.

Guano or not, we were excited to learn that our group that was last the day before would be first this afternoon. We finished lunch and scurried to gather our parkas, pants, boots, gloves, cameras, scarves. . .the list seemed long. Hearts beating quickly, we waited in the lounge for the call to the zodiacs all the while remembering: right hand through the life jacket first.

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