This blog update will not be posted until tomorrow when we are in Ushuaia, which is called “fin del mundo” or end of the world. Today is Elaine’s 62nd birthday. We stayed out late last night, partying and dancing with Joe & Carla and some of our new friends from this cruise, so we were able to celebrate her birthday starting at midnight. This means we both are definitely feeling our age today! Tonight Joe & Carla, Madelyn & George are going to treat us to a special dinner at Chops, one of the upscale restaurants on board (for which there is a cover charge), as a wedding present and birthday celebration.
What a memorable day to have a birthday – we are rounding Cape Horn at about 3 PM today. I was trying to remember where I was on my 62nd birthday and Elaine reminded me that we were on a flight to Istanbul, another memorable day. Yesterday we attended a lecture about rounding the Horn and the guy showed a video made by a man who sailed around the Horn on a big 4 masted sailboat in 1929. It was a huge ship with hundreds of sailors on board and some of his pictures were incredible, especially the ones where water was washing over the deck in huge waves and they had to have rope nets stretched above the railings to catch the men that were washed over. Even with that, they still lost several. He described sleeping in wet clothes because there was no place to dry them. I’m glad we are having a much more comfy trip than his!
The weather has turned much colder and when we were doing the morning walk-a-mile I was wearing my lined leather jacket, gloves, and a knitted hat and I was comfortable until the wind really picked up. Quite a change from just a short time ago when we were sweating and wishing for cooler weather when we were in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. So far the seas are pretty calm, and we are hoping they stay that way. Everyone on board is interested in every little detail about this cruise, even the crew, as this ship has never done this route before. The ship is being moved from the Caribbean to the west coast for the first time and it is too big to go through the Panama Canal, thus this repositioning cruise. In fact, when we were in Buenos Aires, there was much excitement there about our arrival because it is the biggest ship that has ever docked there. As we went up river on the Rio de la Plata towards Buenos Aires, we had to go very slowly because there was only about 3 feet of water under the keel. The water also looked very brown, and there were lots of ships in the channel. As we left the shipping channel on our way out, we saw the Queen Mary 2 waiting for us to leave so she could enter. It was just too narrow for 2 huge ships like these to pass each other. The large size of this ship will also be a factor tomorrow because we will have to be tendered into Ushuaia instead of docking there.
Elaine and I were here before. In 2001 when we were poking around South America in our VW van, we drove down here with our friends Wolfie & Ilona Ogorek, from Germany. They are still traveling all over South America and we sent them our schedule, so we are hoping that they will surprise us by showing up tomorrow. We have already set up a meeting tomorrow with Rick & Kathy Howe, a couple from the World Wide Travelers BOF, in the Escapees RV Club. They have been traveling through Central and South America in their small RV for over a year and we have been enjoying their travel reports. We have not met them in person before although we feel like we know them because of internet contacts. They asked us to bring enchilada sauce and butter rum lifesavers. Kind of interesting to see what people miss from the USA that can’t be obtained down here.
Life on the ship for the past 4 days has been very pleasant. We have had a chance to recover from the hectic days in port and also get caught up on laundry. Additionally, we have returned to our exercise routine, now that Elaine is almost 100% recovered from her respiratory illness. That illness has been sweeping through our group, and also the entire ship, judging by the amount of coughing we hear when we go to a lecture or the theater. Because a lot of our group members bought antibiotics in Uruguay and started taking them early in their illnesses, almost everyone has recovered quickly. Unfortunately, Pierre, from Park Sierra, has been down and out for about 4 days now and we are quite concerned about him as he is 80. Only his wife, Barbara, and myself, have escaped getting this and we are working hard to keep it that way. Hopefully we will learn that he is doing better today.
One pleasant development has been that we have acquired a whole new group of friends because our status as Diamond members of the Crown and Anchor Society allows us to go to the Lotus Lounge every evening between 5 and 8 for appetizers and cocktails free of charge. It started out as a group of Gay guys and us sitting together and mushroomed into a diverse group of gay and straight, young and old, American and European all schmoozing together. We are also meeting a lot of people at the exercise classes we attend every day and on the walk-a-mile twice a day.
I’ll close for now and give you another report from Valparaiso, Chile in a few days. Hoping that all is going well for all of you “back home”.
UPdate: It is now 1-29-09 and we are in Ushuaia. Elaine had a wonderful BD dinner and is looking younger than ever, as she is almost 100 percent recovered from her illness. Pierre is also recovering but now Barbara is sick. Mary Fountain had to go on IV antibiotics at the ship infirmary and is now much better too. We are going to hit a pharmacy today to try to get more antibiotics, just in case!
When we arrived here it was sunny and beautiful and within an hour it was raining. We met Rick & Kathy Howe, the RVers who are down here and saw their RV and had a nice visit. Last night, as we were sailing here through the Beagle Channel there were gorgeous views the whole time, right from our dinner table. Ken said he could see penguins on lots of the little islands. We just saw the white guano! More later from Valparaiso.