Today, we had a very early wake up call. 5:30 a.m. Mr. Sanders was not happy with that time. I was pretty comfortable with it. We get up so early for Disney. We had breakfast and gathered like herds of cattle to go to the airport! We were taking the first steps to the great, white continent.
Ushuaia was much colder and windier than Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, I was in shorts and t-shirts. Ushuaia was cold – like 40 degrees. And, there was wind! We were given a tour of Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego National Park. We were in the province of Tierra del Fuego. Argentina has “provinces” and not states like we do. The tour guide talked about various trees and the flora and fauna of the area. I was surprised to learn that fallen trees took a long time to decompose. The tour guide said up to 70 or 80 years.
From there we went on a catamaran. We ate lunch and then sailed from the port seeing various birds. A naturalist (Andy) who I have become friends with claimed that he saw a penguin! We really didn’t believe him. It was great to have a naturalist right there. Andy would explain what the different birds were and if someone had a question, he was right there to give answers! The boat took us to a dock where we met up with our busses and our luggage. Awaiting us was a grand, beautiful ship.
We boarded the National Geographic Endeavor; that is the official name of the ship. After finding our cabin, we met with passengers to get to know each other and socialize. People have come from so many different places – New Zealand, San Francisco and London. So many people have chosen to make this expedition their trip of a lifetime- I feel so blessed to be able to do this.
As I write this, I am a little nervous. We met our mentor, Eric. He welcomed Mr. Sanders and I but was quick to explain that we are going to be experiencing some rough waters crossing the Drake Passage. The boat is trying to beat out a storm before it hits. They guarantee some rough water! Hopefully, the seasickness medication that I took the moment I got on the boat will work!
This is Andy Szabo showing us the penguin that he spotted!
Mr. Szymanski is a 1st grade teacher at Walt Disney Elementary School in Chicago, IL. He is bringing the world to his classroom with the help of National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. Here, he chronicles his adventures to Antarctica and South America in December 2014.