Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Round the Horn (Nov. 27)

Tonight, I'm writing from a very different world. A container ship is alongside, and trucks and forklifts go back and forth along the pier. The city of Ushuaia splays up the mountainside, and the city lights shine in the delayed dusk.
We've spent the past two days sailing from the white continent back to the civilized world. As we left Antarctica behind, it was hard to believe that we were leaving the world of snow and ice and mountains to return to the real world. It still is really.
The first day at sea we were in the realm of the albatross. The giant birds once again joined our ship to wish us a safe voyage home. They reminded us once again that they are the masters of the sea and sky and that we are but visitors.
Today, we woke with the call of our landfall at Cape Horn. It was interesting to see the site of so many legendary sea stories. Rounding the Horn used to be a very dangerous task of the mariner, but now we motor along regardless of the wind and gaze on the monument commemorating the mariners' sacrifice.

Cape Horn.

The rest of the day we spent packing and settling our affairs here on our temporary floating home. The National Geographic Explorer really has come to feel like a second home. We know the hallways and the best places to be at each time of the day. We say good morning and greet the crew by name. Saying goodbye to the ship is bittersweet, but saying goodbye to our shipmates is more difficult. We've become very fond of our fellow travelers, and we've experienced some amazing things together. Tonight, we had a farewell dinner with a big table of friends knowing that we'd never all be together again. As we finished the meal, our port came into view, and the reality of going home hit us. We talked about how much of a shock civilization will be after the great white emptiness of Antarctica.

Ushuaia harbor.

Tomorrow is a travel day. We'll move from the city at the bottom of the world to Buenos Aires, and then, we'll be home the following morning. It's been quite the adventure, and I want to thank all of you for following us. Keep taking a look at this journal as we post pictures from home where the internet is more readily available.

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