"" Writer's Wanderings: Revisiting Antarctica - Tuxedos Abound

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Revisiting Antarctica - Tuxedos Abound

And the last shall be first. After being last in line the evening before, we were the first zodiac group in the morning to land ashore amidst a welcome party of white and black tuxedo-feathered friends. They chortled at us, lifting their beaks to the sky and letting their gullets vibrate to emit their song of welcome--or warning.  

Exploration leaders had gone ahead of us and laid out paths that were to be followed so no one would disturb the penguins. We carefully followed the bright colored ropes on the ground that were our guide and stopped here and there to enjoy the antics of our hosts. Some had little furry offspring at their feet and others waddled off to the water to feed and/or bathe. No matter how guano covered a penguin was, returning from the water he would be spotlessly clean and absolutely beautiful.

We glimpsed a newly hatched baby--a late arrival--still partially in the egg as a mother penguin lifted her belly and readjusted her position. Some parents had two young ones to look after. Soft gray feathers made the young look furry and cuddly. The smell would cancel the cuddly part though.

Along the beach, we came upon some whale bones that had been assembled there for exhibit. Bleached rib bones reached five fee into the air. At one time, this was a great whaling area.

All too soon our time on shore was over and we returned to the zodiac landing area. Again I say this was an impressive crew on our ship. They also had to scrape the bottoms of our boots and spray disinfectant before we could return to the ship. It was all done with good humor and we were appreciative.

That evening there was a glorious sunset with colors more rich and pure than I have seen anywhere. Summertime in the southern hemisphere meant that sunset was around 10:45 p.m. and sunrise at 4 a.m. If it ever completely got dark, I didn't see it. Snuggled into bed at night, I only saw the backs of my eyelids.

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