First, I need to say hello to my Lovebugs. I miss all 33 of you very much! I am so happy that you have continued to follow me during this time. I think of you every minute and know that this is your last day of school! I am very excited for you. Truly, I wish I was there to give each one of you a hug and a special wish for a safe, warm holiday season with your families.
The journey on the waters have been much kinder to us this go around. We are all pretty thankful on the boat for the ease of crossing and the approach of the South American Continent. The sea birds soaring around or vessel have changed in size and variety. This more temperate climate obviously brings different kinds of life for us to experience. Waking in these waters sounds an almost startling boom every so often as the waves crash against the sides of the ship. When waking from a deep slumber, it almost sounds like bombs exploding – some close against the side of the ship and far off in the distance as if they are miles way.
This morning, we approached the southern tip of South America. As we approached the Cape of Horn, we were reminded that we were not going to Chile as their coastal authorities contacted the ship and asked us not to come closer to their borders. Still, the captain was able to bring us closer and closer to get photos documenting our journey to this noteworthy point on the globe. The landscape had steep, jagged cliffs rising out of the seawater with deep burn sienna rock formations and green foliage; surely, we were no longer on the white continent! Dr. Johansen kindly let me have another photo opportunity as we came upon the Cape.
After lunch, Mr. Sanders and I tied up some of our obligations on board with the videographer. A montage of interviews, video clips and images will be woven together to provide interested parties our reflection of such an awesome experience. I deeply am grateful for such an opportunity from National Geographic and Lindblad expeditions. This has pushed me professionally and personally in so many ways. I never could have dreamed about the things I have been able to do. I have climbed up cavernous snow banks, sunk to my thighs in soft, yet heavily packed snow, jumped into water that was below the freezing point and bore witness to the remarkable behaviors of a bounty of animal life in a world where we often think that life barely exists. It exists and is thriving!
Tonight, we made our way back to Argentina through the Beagle Channel. In 1839, Captain Robert FitzRoy published his voyage of H.M.S. Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826-1836. For the first time, the world learned about the discovery of the Beagle Channel. The narrative described South America and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe. On board was a young Charles Darwin, who went on to develop the theory of evolution based partially on observations he made in South America. These protected waterways of the southern tip of South America were stark contrast to the black and white landscapes of Antarctica, with the first trees seen since we left. When we looked every so closely, we could see Condors soaring against this impressive backdrop.
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.