Friday, November 27, 2009

South America Day 9: A Day in Shorthand

Today Black Friday: Every time Dad turns on TV, all advertising shilling for door-busters, all news anchors discussing economic status of Xmas shopping season. Fortunately, all moot - shopping done before departure.

Very rough seas this morning - waves 10 feet plus. While walking down corridors, ship shifts beneath feet resulting in wall contact; similar exhiliration to drunkenness without metabolic consequences. Giggled a lot on way to breakfast.

In library after breakfast, failed to find bird book to research mysterious birds seen last night but succeeded in locating crossword and Sudoku. Dad still helping a lot with latter. Lazed morning away in napping and puzzling (really, this life is so hard to take.)

Dad enjoying plotting route on South American Explorer map. Have come 891 nautical miles from Puerto Chacabuco as of today! Entered Strait of Magellan by midmorning. Always pictured Strait of Magellan as wild seas wracked by violent storms (influence of youthful reading choices no doubt). Reality is quiet, chill, bleak:



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(note tiny, forlorn sign of human existence: red/white channel marker? lighthouse? on lowest rock.)

Really respect early sailors' courage: 1) Is summer here now; this is best possible weather; sometimes not as nice! 2) No depth sensors, proximity alarms; archipelago islands not all above water, some lurk just below surface ready to savage fragile wooden hulls.

Am enjoying self; like it cold!

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Spanish lesson today covered "port visiting" words, phrases: restaurant ordering, taxis, etc.

Running late to all meals today and found dining rooms very crowded at lunch, especially Garden Cafe. Seems to be favorite hangout for passengers in tomblike internal cabins: warm, well lit, tables and soft chairs for card players, readers, plus food and coffee always available. In warmer climate, probably deck chairs serve purpose, but Patagonia incompatible with deckside lounging.

Lines too long there, Seven Seas Restaurant, Pacific Heights. Getting cranky going up, down elevators when hungry, seeking quick meal. Dad had moment of inspiration: One restaurant for sure will not have a line! Right, too:

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Great Outdoor Grill, barely screened from Patagonian winds, deserted; servers behind counter shivering in parkas. Perfect! Ate delicious burgers and fries, although public health hysteria meant was forbidden to dispense own ketchup; held out bun for gloved server to squirt. Even better, didn't have to eat out on deck; snagged table inside while getting drinks!

Since tables at premium, gregarious Dad invited Brazilian gentleman to share ours. (He was travelling with friend, but friend was at art auction. At sea?) Although linguistic overlap minimal, had nice time chatting, and were moments of actual communication. Doesn't seem too thrilled over Brazil getting next summer Olympics. Lives in Bahia, but originally from Rio; indicated was much corruption there.

Afternoon similarly energetic as morning. Did, for once, get exercise: took half-hour constitutional around Promenade Deck.

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Heckuva wind on stern!

At dinner, German couple at next table told us we would be passing southernmost tip of continental land mass shortly. Finished meal, ran to get cameras, ran to Promenade Deck

Promenade



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to capture experience. Glad I did, even though very cold and windy. [BTW, is still much land south of here but is all islands, archipelago. Tierra del Fuego not actually attached to South America.]

Nights getting pretty short. Still light out at 10:21 PM although sun set half hour before, and tomorrow sunrise is at 5:30 AM.  Still 800 miles north of Antarctic Circle, though, so not quite Midnight Sun.