Ahoy I see land! I still can’t believe I am spending my birthday finishing crossing the Drake Passage and I see the South Shetland Islands. We are expected to dock around 4am on the Peninsula. This morning I was able to call home where my parents sang Happy Birthday to me! The people on the ship have celebrated my birthday all day – between the decorations on my door after lunch, to the whole ship singing Happy Birthday to me at dinner with the chocolate ganache cake and the Happy Birthday banner and balloons all above my bed – it has been a very relaxing birthday!
Today on the boat we were prepping for going on land tomorrow. We had to learn about how to stay at least 15 feet from any animals, this is a bit familiar with having gone to the Galapagos. One of the odd things we had to do was vacuum our clothes. I didn’t have to really stress about that since the majority of my clothes are all new. It really was meant for those that have hiked and have seeds and dirt from other locations since they don’t want us to bring in any foreign seeds, plants and animals. You know I am all hiding some puppies in my clothing. We had to sign paperwork saying we understood all of this and if not, I would be subjected to discipline from the United States.
I listened to lectures about identifying marine mammals (whales, dolphins, etc) and then penguins/sea lions. Some people were taking notes, I was struggling to stay awake…I am one of the worst students with keeping focused when someone is lecturing – glad I don’t do that in my own classroom!!!
I found out today that I will be camping on December 21st at night and going kayaking the same day. Every other day I can do snowshoeing and photography tours. Tomorrow I have signed up for a photography tour in the afternoon. In the morning I am just going to wander around on shore taking photos of the penguins that are supposed to be there. I can’t believe we are going to be on land tomorrow!! This tour group is made up of such a diverse group – lots of young people, but also a few older people. I think having this being a basecamp tour where all of our activities are included, it really attracted people in their early 30’s which is great considering I thought I was going to be with very old people.
So as I write this crossing into one of the straights people started all running to one side of the boat – of course I did too. What appeared through my view finder…A HUMP BACK WHALE!!!! Perfect ending to a day!