Life in the freezer

11 Dec

Ok, so MC has hailed you already with his divinely-worded, dramatic tale of life at sea… so now all that is left for me is to regale you with a snippet of the kel-lights – the highs and the lows – of my time in the freezer.

Highlight: Overcoming my aversion to the cold

Awaiting the bus to transport us to our boat, ferry, cargo-carrier-turned-expedition-ship, the wind is doing its best to keep my hat in Ushuaia. A small ‘brr, I’m cold’ gained a bit of eye-rolling from MC, the ‘English heater’, until I pointed out the cold weather gear being carted onto the bus by our fellow travellers. Wind and rain-proof jackets, 2 inches thicker than ours. Snow boots and gloves. Neck gaiters, balaclava-style face protectors and ski goggles. Gulp. I pulled my woolly hat tighter around my head. Didn’t I leave Melbourne because it was too cold?

And then… 48 hours later, there I am. On the ice, making friends with the penguins, knee-deep in snow and amongst howling winds – and still smiling. Ok fine, I’ll admit I was wearing 5 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, a wind-breaker, dear-old woolly hat, 2 scarves and 2 pairs of gloves. Not an exaggeration, but bugger the critics I was warm.

It seems this wasn’t enough though. We must challenge ourselves in life after all. So when the opportunity for a quick dip in the Antarctic arose, I forced myself to whack on a smile and don the togs.

You, my friends, shall know. There are few things in life that render me speechless. At -1.5C, the icy cold nearly knocked my gumboots off.

Quite sure I won’t be whinging about a little nippy wind any longer. Cold allergy, goneski.

Highlight: Eating snowflakes

Following the polar plunge, we decided to have a cheeky tonic (just add your own vodka) and an early night. That was until I realised snow was falling outside, my first snowfall, and it was time for celebrations. Catching snowflakes and drawing my name in the boat’s ice was a show stopper for me.

Lowlight: Day after eating snowflakes

When shit happens to me, it REALLY happens. We awoke to an intercom announcement that whales were being spotted on deck and we should hurry out. Sporting a hangover the size of the glaciers we’d been spotting, if I could’ve raised my head from the pillow I would’ve been proud. No whales for us – strike 1.

Pulling on my gear, dear old Versace sunnies got crushed. Clean break straight through the frame. That’ll teach me for buying something other than $20 Sportsgirl specials. Strike 2.

Got the late boat out to the hike, thought the fresh air would do me good. Snap-happy tourists were driving me nuts and blocking the road. In my effort to move around, I slipped on guano-coated (penguin poo) rocks and covered myself in the retched stench. Strike 3, and it’s not even 11am. As I rolled in the snow, swearing and scrubbing at myself like a deranged gypsy, I swear I saw MC smirking.

Later that arvo MC’s hurt his shoulder on a 200m slide down the snow and we’re having to hunt down the Doc for pain killers. I thought this was strike 4, but after recalling his smirk, feeling like this was more karma striking than bad luck.

Trying desperately to make myself presentable for dinner, thought I might give the hairdryer a whirl. Succeeded in drying 5 hairs and busting our prized international adapter – one that you can plug it into anything and plug anything into it. Then spending the next 3 hours trying to hunt down Piotr, the crew’s Polish handyman – to see if he could fix it. What am I up to – strike 5? Pass me the wine.

Highlight: Throwing out the hairdryer.

Highlight: Body-surfing down snow slopes.

You quickly learn it’s much easier to hike up a snowy slope than to go down one. Going up, you follow the path paved from others, trying not to fall knee-deep in snow. This usually entailed me following in the footsteps of someone larger than me. If they don’t fall in, I was sure to be fine. Going down, however, the path has usually become icy and slippery. So, to save yourself a knee-injury (gaining a shoulder-injury in MC’s case) you body-surf the snow. The first time we did so, we went feet first on our backs, forgetting to tuck the jacket in and coming up soaked and soggy.

The second time, down a 200m bumpy slope, we went head-first on our bellies. MC tucked his jacket in, trying to avoid the sogginess of the previous slide, not quite putting all the pieces together that the opposite would apply and jacket-untucked would be best, therefore coming up with his pants around his ankles, carrying a few kilos of snow. Too funny. Seems karma struck again.

… My friends, Antarctica is just such a rare, untouched, majestic part of the world. It is full of glaciers falling, seals yawning and air so fresh you really can taste the difference. It is so difficult to describe its sheer rawness.

If you get a chance, you must go.

…But don’t forget your woolly hat.

x kel

3 Responses to “Life in the freezer”

  1. Dan December 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Hey guys, finally checked into the view. Good to read your post on Antarctica, ours should be up any day now too. Will let you know how the volcano is here in Pucon. Have a good christmas and maybe bump into you again on a street in Valpariso…
    Dan and Tan

  2. wendy December 29, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    Love the photos especially the one with you catching snowflakes Kel. Laughed at you slipping in penguin poo took me back to the duck poo! Hope your Christmas was great wishing you both all the best for 2012 love from us all here in sunny Oz!!! xxx

    • wordsfromtheview February 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

      oh, how the penguin poo reminded me of the duck poo also. will that day never leave me!? x kel

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