Friday, February 7, 2020

2020 Antarctica Cruise

This is a summary of my 2020 Patagonia-Antarctica cruise, plus spending additional days in South America before and after the cruise.  I left New York on January 6, 2020 and returned to New York on February 10, 2020.

2020 was a great year for the Antarctica cruise as it marked the 200 anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica.  Who discovered Antarctica? Depends on who you ask.

January 6, 2020 (Monday)

I left New York City Monday afternoon and flew to Atlanta, Georgia where I caught another flight to Santiago, Chile, and arrive there early Tuesday morning.  I spent a few days in Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile before boarding the cruise ship (Seabourn Quest) on Sunday the 12th.   The cruise will last 21 days.

January 7, 2020 (Tuesday)
, Santiago, Chile

I met up with Scott and we are currently staying at the Hotel Plaza San Francisco which is conveniently located in downtown Santiago within walking distance to shopping areas, restaurants, etc.   After getting organized from the flight, we walked around and eventually stopped at a restaurant called La Picá de Clinton (translation Clinton’s Spot) where we enjoyed a beer.  The place was originally a soda shop called San Remo. but in 1998 President Bill Clinton was attending the 2nd Summit of the Americas.  While on route to the summit he stopped at this place and ordered a diet coke.  After that the owners converted the soda shop to a restaurant and renamed it La Picá de Clinton.  See attached photo of a sign I took in the restaurant.

Above:  Sign at La Picá de Clinton (translation Clinton’s Spot)

The map below shows a quickie overview of the original schedule for this trip. Once we depart San Antonio on the cruise we will sail through Chile and eventually to Ushuaia, Argentina where we will head across the Drake Passage to Antarctica and spend 6 days sight seeing (called the Antarctic Experience) plus other activities on the land and water (including kayaking).  After that we sail to the Falkland Islands for one day and then on to Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  After the cruise we will spend a few days in Argentina and Brazil and then fly home.
Above:  Quickie overview of this trip (as originally scheduled).

January 8, 2020 (Wednesday), Santiago, Chile

We took 2 walking tours today in Santiago, we walked all day, nonstop, approximately 21,000 steps, almost 10 miles

The first tour was a morning tour of some local markets and of the La Chascona Museum House, the home of Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He’s often called the most important Latin American poet of the 20th century.

On our marker tour we learned a lot about the local political situation.  We heard some protesters (protesting economic inequality, etc.) when we were in the Plaza de Armas (the main square of Santiago, translation Square of Weapons), the protesters made a lot of noise but the police weren't paying any special attention to them.  We were told the police were more worried about the pickpockets since there were so many tourists.  Later that day at dinner we saw some riot police go by the front door.  No one from the restaurant even looked up.  I guess Fridays are the major protest days, after 5 p.m.

The protesters knocked out the walk-don’t walk signs on stop lights, so homeless boys (Santiago has a major homeless problem and many are children) would put on yellow fluorescent vest and help people across the streets for tips.  Our guide Carlos said the homeless boys are doing a good job and drivers give them tips.

Many of the statues around town have their eyes painted red by protesters because the police damaged the eyes of over 200 protesters last year with rubber bullets and tear gas.

The markets were fairly typical of markets but there were a few unusual things, I am including a photo of black corn, which is from Peru and is much sweeter than regular corn.

Above: Black Corn

The market people were very friendly,  when I said "Hola"  they responded enthusiastically "HOLA!”

About the La Chascona Museum House, when Pablo Neruda needed a secret hideaway to spend time with his mistress, he built La Chascona (loosely translated as 'Messy Hair'), the name inspired by her unruly curls.  If interested you can read more about La Chascona Museum House at  After visiting the home of Pablo Neruda, we went on the second tour, a historical tour.

I'm attaching photos of two murals we saw on the second tour, on sides of buildings in the Bellas Artes district of Santiago.  The colorful mural below with foliage and eyes peeping through represent the Chilean natives looking out curiously to see who was coming ashore, this has to do with the Spanish Conquest of Chile in the 1500s.

Above:  Mural 1

The mural below shows a person with a mask ostensibly depicting that the natives have unseen and have to hide their religion etc.  Toward the bottom on the right is a baby with a $ sign on it and skeletons symbolizing what happens with money in religion.  The left side is a similar baby with signs of all the major religions of the world and the rewards for spirituality.

Above:  Mural 2

Our guide Carlos really loved former President of Chile, Salvador Allende and we learned a lot about Allende and his 3 years as President in the ealry 1970s, before the military dictator Augusto Pinochet came into power.  The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was involved in politics and was a friend of Allende.  We saw an impressive statue of Allende and I wish I had taken a photo.  Carlos said to look at Allende's mustache and glasses on the statue, he said Salvatore Allende was a hippie before his time, no one had a mustache and wore those kind of glasses then.

We later had a beer with Carlos and learned even more about Chilean politics, and about Chilean wine, beer and food.  Later Wednesday we went to a wine tasting and dinner that was outstanding, at Bocanariz Restaurant.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we leave for Valparaiso and have a tour booked for that afternoon to get oriented and plan to take another “Tours 4 Tips” tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m.  They are called "Tours 4 Tips" because you pay what you think the experience was worth.

January 9, 2020 (Thursday), Valparaiso, Chile

Today we took a van with driver from Santiago, Chile to the seaport Valparaiso (or Valpo as the locals call it), a distance of about 70 miles via Route 68.  Route 68 goes through wine country where the fields are all organized in rows and very green.  There are many vegetables grown here as well. It is curious that the situation in Chile is similar to California in that industry and agriculture take most of the water,  In Chile only 10% of the water is left for the general population, which is one of the things the protest are about.  

We had a guide from when I was here once before, he was fun and knowledgeable.  We walked all over the two hills that have UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) status, Allegre and Miraflores.  UNESCO status means “protection for cultural and natural legacies that humanity leaves for future generations to enjoy and be inspired by." There are 45 hills in Valpo. 

Valparaiso is touted as one of the best cities for street art in South America, there is so much street art I was again excited about it. I want to paint big like that!  Send me courage. 

The history was all about all the different nationalities coming to Valpo, mostly to import saltpeter for munitions. They established themselves in areas, setting up schools and of keen interest to me, fire stations.  These still exist today but some have moved out of the immediate area to more "affluent" sections.  

I checked my Apple Watch and we walked about 9,000 steps and climbed 18 flights of stairs. Whew!

Our Hotel Cirilo Armstrong was built as lofts to accommodate architects and engineers woking in the port.   Later they changed it to a hotel. It is challenging as the bed is upstairs but there is no closet space and a very small bathroom.   Downstairs is nice. It includes a hotplate, refrigerator and electric tea kettle.  All designed for short-stay folks without luggage.  So we have our suitcases downstairs and think we'll take only our pajamas, lotions and potions upstairs.  We have laughed about... do we put  our pajamas on downstairs and leave our clothes for the day, and then in the a.m. come back downstairs after our shower to our suitcases to dress for the day?  At least they have WiFi and Friday and Saturday they have Happy Hour. 

In downtown Valpo we took 1 of the 8 remaining funiculars (wooden elevator-cable-cars that roll up and down hills on tracks) out of the original 45 which are are still in operation that were built in the 1800's...  OY!  Even though creaky, the funicuars work and beat hiking up and down the hills.

Currently we are at the Cinzano Bar, the oldest bar in South America and we are now drinking Austral beer, the most southern beer company in the world.

The following 4 photos include two photos showing some street art work, the view from the hot tube in our hotel room and a view of the first floor of our hotel room with our terrace and hot tube in the back ground.  You’ll need to look closely to pick out the hot tube.
Above:  Street Art

Above:  Street Art

Above:  View from our hot tub

Above:  View of first floor of our hotel room

January 10, 2020 (Friday), Valparaiso, Chile

After a simple breakfast Friday morning that was served and cooked in the hotel lobby, we trudged down to the Plaza Sotomayor to pick up our "Tours 4 Tips” tour, called "Off the Beaten Path" tour. 

We started with a stroll through what was once where wealthy shipping barons from Europe lived.  But several things happened to the shipping industry that caused a decline to the shipping industry.  The Panama Canal was built and the Europeans on their way to the lucrative California markets didn't have to go around the Cape.  And then WWII meant they didn't come anyway. 

We also took a bus that the guide called a 4-wheeled-roller-coaster, an appropriate description!  The bus drivers makes a percentage of the fares so they love having a tour group.  They don't even have bus stops, folks just stand on the side of the street and the drivers are more than happy to pick them up. We ended up seeing Bismarck Square where the Red Bull Insane Valparaiso Bicycle Challenge takes place in late February.  Bismarck Square has beautiful mosaic columns.  
Above:  Bismarck Square mosaic columns
We walked from one of 45 hills in Valparaiso to another and ended up at the former prison.  It was built on the outskirts of Valparaiso in the 1800's and the city grew around it.  It was supposed to house 400 inmates but with the 1970's political prisoners mixed in with the regular inmates the number grew to 1400 and there were many riots due to the overcrowding.  Finally they built a new prison further out of town and the first prison became occupied by squatters who were performers and puppeteers who taught children arts.  Along with the neighbors, they managed to have the prison and the grounds turned into a cultural center.  While we were there a dance rehearsal was going on.  

Next we went to Pantheon Hill (Cemetery Hill in Spanish), the hill is named Cemetery Hill because three cemeteries are on the hill.  Because the country was Catholic the first cemetery (Cemetery No. 1) was for them.  But some of the wealthy folks from Protestant countries didn’t want to be buried there.  They managed to get their own cemetery, across the street and it is called Cemetery for the Dissidents.  Both are not really in much use anymore except for families that have mausoleums.  The mural near the cemeteries is beautiful and was done by someone that believed people who couldn't afford to go to museums to see fine art should have the opportunity.
Above:  Mural near cemetery
After that we walked down a hill to a small park called "resting park," my words not the real name.  It seems that this was the stop for folks when they were carrying the coffins up the very steep hill to the cemetery.  The artist that did the columns in Bismarck Square organized school children to mosaic this wall of this park.  It is colorful to say the least, see the photo below of Scott and me “resting." 
Above: Scott and Diane taking a break from walking

Below also is a photo of the Valparaiso Stairs, also called the Stairs of 100 Fires because of how your thighs feel after the climb.
Above: Valparaiso Stairs, also called the Stairs of 100 Fires

We had dinner with our new friends Anne and Vikram that we met in Santiago, at a highly recommended restaurant in our neighborhood, La Concepcion.  I had a local fish call reineta and Scott had a native animal called guanaco, it is sort of like a domestic llama.  Both were excellent.  Anne and Vikram live 2 blocks from Mud Matters (our second pottery studio in New York). Then we had drinks at a local bar on the way back to our hotel.  

The following is just curious info.

After returning to the hotel after our tour; 12,293 steps so far, 5.7 miles, 13 flights on my Apple Watch.  Just looked at the week. Wednesday was the winner with 21,000 steps but not so many stairs, Thursday was half as many steps but 23 flights of stairs. 

They had a contest today about the band for the song on the stairs. I won.  Got a chocolate thing called an Algeria, like a mini moon pie. 

January 11 2020 (Saturday), Valparaiso, Chile

There was no organized tour Saturday but we walked and climbed just as much, 13,722 steps. 6.5 miles and 22 stairs according to my Apple Watch.  At the crack of noon we started out, going down to the Museo Bella’s Artes (aka Valparaíso Museum of Fine Arts).  They have an extensive collection of art by Chileans mostly.  Below is a photo of one terra-cotta piece I found interesting, it was titled Machu-Pachu by Chilean artist Juan Diaz Fleming.
Above:  Machu-Pachu by Chilean artist Juan Diaz Fleming

Then back up the hill even further to take a microbus (the “612" or the “O” bus) ride to La Sebastiana Museum, Pablo Neruda’s Valparaíso Home.  Here Neruda partied a lot.  We learned about his personal life.  Interesting he wrote with a fountain pen with green ink. He drank whiskey before lunch and took 2 hour naps.  What a life!  Below is a photo taken from Neruda’s study showing a few of the colorful houses.
Above: colorful houses near La Sebastiana Museum

So the curious bit of info.  Most of the colorful houses for the formerly working class were up on the hills and were made of adobe bricks and mortar.  Because of the humidity this material needed protection from the moisture.  Soo-o-o, these enterprising workers would go down to the wharf and strip the abandoned containers of the sheet metal siding and use it on their homes.  It is still there.  Then since fishermen used to paint their boats with wonderful colors, the home builders would take the leftover paint back up the hill to paint their houses.  It is still very colorful but there are many colors like purple and magenta that I doubt ever graced the hull of a fishing boat.  

Then we took the microbus and went to Viña Del Mar, a small town next to Valparaiso. It’s a popular beach resort and very Miami Beach, and this is their peak season as you can tell from the following photo of their beach.
Above:  Beach at Viña Del Mar
We stopped for a glass of wine and a Pisco Sour, the cocktail of choice in Chile and Peru, which by the way competes as to whom, makes the best Pisco. Given the reputation for gastronomical superiority of the Peruvians I suspect theirs would be better. But who can tell in a Sour. We then took the subway back to Valpo and the funicular home to change and go to Tres Peses (Three Fishes) for dinner. Yummy. This place is known for only serving locally caught fresh fish and every guide said to go there.  I had several small fish, I think was spelled something like pervatty, not sure. 

Also below is a photo showing some pretext street art.
Above:  Street art

Cruise Day #1:  January 12, 2020 (Sunday), San Antonio, Chile 

This is Sunday and we are now on the cruise ship Seabourn Quest at the port in San Antonio, Chile, our ship will leave later today on our 3-week Antarctica cruise.  

We left Valpo this morning and caught a Uber to San Antonio, Chile, about 55 miles from Santiago, Chile.   San Antonio is the port where most Antarctica cruise ships depart.  An interesting tidbit that my friend Dayle wrote about in the blog of her 2018 Antarctica cruise is that Valpo used to be where the cruise ships would dock but changed to San Antonio due to a number of strikes over the years that caused most ships to switch to San Antonio.

Below is a photo of Scott and yours truly at the San Antonio port. 
Scott and Diane at San Antonio port
Also below is a nice photo of the Seabourn Quest I found on the Internet (photo credit to Peter Knego for USA today), I have indicated on this photo the location of the suite (on Deck 6) where we will be staying.
Above:  Photo of the Seabourn Quest from the Internet, showing the suite where we will be staying
An Antarctic cruise has been described as an adventure of a lifetime, an once-in-a-lifetime adventures, a most epic adventure of a lifetime, a voyage to remember, one of your most memorable voyages, a destination of a lifetime. sensory overload, etc., etc.  Whatever it will be for me, it starts in a few hours, I’m so excited!

Cruise Day #2:  January 13, 2020:  Monday:  Our ship is out to sea and our journey to Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula has finally begun

Cruise Day #3:  January 14, 2020:  Tuesday:  Ship now anchored at Puerto Montt, Chile, but will depart shortly

Our ship arrived at Puerto Montt, Chile this morning (Tuesday), Puerto Montt is a tender port (where you have to go ashore on a small boat) for larger ships, including our cruise ship (Seabourn Quest), so we had tendered to a small dock near the Puerto Angelmo fishing cove.  The photo below is of a mural I took of one of the old buildings after we arrived at the small dock.
Above:  Mural at Puerto Montt, Chile
The following map (courtesy of our ships’s GPS tracking system) shows some places we visited today, I'm including this just for reference. Our ship anchored in Bahia Puerto Montt (Puerto Montt Bay in English).
Above: Map for reference
After looking around in Puerto Montt we took a mini bus ride to Puerto Varas, a picturesque town about 30 minutes north of Puero Montt.  Puerto Varas is on Lake Llanquihue, the second largest lake in Chile, with views of several volcanoes visible from the lakefront, when the weather is good.   When we got there, due to the weather, we were unable to see any of the volcanoes that are nornally visible.  That was a real bummer as viewing the Osorno Volcano was high on our list of things to see as Osorno Volcano is one of Chile’s most visible landmarks.  As a side note, the last time Osorno Volcano erupted was 1869, so we felt safe.

While in Puerto Varas we had lunch at a place called Cassis Cafe which is across the street from Lake Llanquihue.  My friend Dayle had a gorgeous photo of the Osorno Volcano in the background of Lake Llanquihue in her blog of her 2018 trip.

After lunch today we did a little last minute shopping in Puerto Varas.  We bought croakies (straps) for our sunglasses for kayaking that were suggested by the guides. And Joan Sofen, one of our traveling mates, bought sunscreen.  I had the coup of the day, I noticed the sole of one of the shoes I had repaired for the trip was starting to come loose.  So I started looking for gorilla glue.  No luck!  The pharmacists suggested the toy/set supply store.  After sign language and putting my foot on the counter to which he had no reaction.  He came up with this adhesive (See following photo) for shoes specifically.  Who knew?    El Secreto de Zapatero translate as The Secret of the Shoemaker
Above:  Sign for shoe adhesive

We then took the same mini bus back to Puerto Montt where we walked the Angelmo Market and Scott made me buy an alpaca sweater.  We are now heading back to the ship for a beer and a nap.  

Cruise Day #4: Wednesday (1-15-2020): Ship anchored this morning at Castro, Chile, later Scenic Cruising Gulf of Corcovado

I forgot to mention something in yesterday’s email.  When we departed the ship Tuesday to take the tender into Puerto Montt, we found out that we couldn’t take any fruits or vegetables from the ship into Puerto Montt.  It was kind of funny, in Puerto Montt we had to put our back packs on the floor for dogs to sniff.  We called them all purpose narc dogs; fruits, vegetables and drugs.

Also from yesterday, below is a photo of Scott and yours truly as we left our cabin yesterday to head for Puerto Montt.  Traveling companion Ron Solfen took this photo with his Canon EOS 90D dSLR camera.  Nice photo Ron, thanks!
Above:  Scott & Diane leaving their cabin for Puerto Montt
But back to today (Wednesday), our ship weighed anchor and left Puerto Montt late yesterday (Tuesday) and sailed to Castro, Chile and arrived early this morning.  Castro is a city on Chiloé Island in Chile, and Chiloé Island is the larges island in the Chiloé Archipelago.   The map below is courtesy of the ship’s GPS tracking system, and shows the path of the ship on an hourly basis.  The map has been annotated to show where Castro is relative to Puerto Montff.
Above: Ship's GPS tracking map
Like Puerto Montt, Castro is a tender port so the ship is anchored and we had to take a small boat into Castro.  Below is an aerial photo of the Seabourn Quest (our ship) anchored at Castro in 2017 (NOT this 2020 cruise I'm on), this photo was found on the internet (Photo credit: Galaxiid). 
Above:  Seabourn Quest at Castro in 2017
Scott and I knew it was going to be an early start today as our tender was scheduled to leave the ship at 7:30 am, but we didn't expect the coffee to arrive in our cabin at 5:39 am.  UGH!  The weather was predicted to top out at 57 degrees F and sunny.   That was how it went.

Our tour today was entitled UNESCO Churches.  Interesting but we spent very little time in churches.  Castro is a typical town with a town square containing a church and a market.  What makes this area interesting is that it is very isolated, so everything came in late and everything that was built was done by hand with local materials.  Important note they had no metal, that means no nails, so nothing like that.   The churches were built on stones then wood and have all weathered the earthquakes because they could move and not break.  Ship building was a major craft so all the churches were built with shipbuilding principles.  We saw 5 different churches, some on a smaller island in the archipelago.  We were in a huge bus and had to take a ferry across the bay.  Small ferry but big enough for the bus.  

One of the interesting things was the stilt houses and the water lines on the stilts. There can be 17-meter tides (about 56 feet), so there were lots of mud flats and boats on their sides to see.  The following photo shows some stilt houses in Castro
Above:  Stilt houses in Castro
At the little island of Quinchao Island, we had a snack, ceviche, sopa pillow, potato bread and a sweet thingie (the name translates into broken underwear), and pisco sours.  The photo below shows some food cooking in Castro on Quinchao Island.
Above:  Food cooking on Quinchao Island
The churches were all Catholic of course and the statues were curious.  The main thing was the statue of Jesus that had 3 huge combs coming off his head, plus the crown of thorns.   In one church Mary had on a straw hat and another one, a man (not sure who) holding baby Jesus in a onesie.  By the color of Mary’s dress you could tell which area she came from, or what attribute she was embodying.  Pink was for grace and from Argentina.  She also had the regulation blue and then many black dresses.  

We also stopped at a few local markets. None of the handicrafts were as good as they were in Puerto Mott,  I didn't buy anything.  I used my Chilean pesos yesterday for the alpaca sweater. 

The next photo is of some potatoes in Castro. I found out that the Chiloé Archipelago is home to a wide variety of potatoes. 
Above:  Potatoes in Castro
When we got back to the ship, I went to a lecture for photographers.  Very inspiring, they mostly showed their photographs,  it reminding me of some of the things I'd learned at other workshops   We'll see  if I can do what was taught today.

So now we are going to our block party... champagne in the corridors.  Seabourn must have a corner on the champagne market, they pour it all the time.  

Once we leave Castro this afternoon we will not be on land again until we reach Punta Arenas early Saturday morning, the 18th.  Before we get to Punta Arenas we will sail through the Gulf of Corcovado, Chilean Fjords,  El Brujo Glacier, Sarmiento Channel and Strait of Magellan.

Cruise Day #5:  Thursday (1-16-2020): Out to Sea: Cruising Chilean Fjords

We left Castro, Chile Wednesday and have since done a scenic cruising of the Gulf of Corcovado and the Chilean Fjords.  The following map (courtesy of the ships GPS tracking system) shows where we are at this time (Thursday night).
Above:   GPS map showing approximate location of the Seabourn Quest at the time of this writing
The photo below is of our ship, (Seabourn Quest), I took this photo from the tender at Puerto Montt.
Above:  Seabourn Quest in Puerto Montt

The following photo is of yours truly and the ship’s “mascot.”
Above:  Diane with stuffed penguin from the Seabourn Quest
The next photo was taken as we went through the Chilean Fjords, not a great day for photos as it was raining.  I indicated on the above GPS map the approximate spot where the photo was taken.
Above:  Chilean Fjords on a rainy day
It is now Thursday night and the ship continues cruising along the Chilean coast.  We still have the El Brujo Glacier, the Sarmiento Channel, and the Strait of Magellan to see before we arrive at Punta Arenas on Saturday.

Cruise Day 6:  Friday (1-17-20): Scenic Cruising El Brujo Glacier and Sarmiento Channel

It’s Friday and first let me explain and apologize that the photos and the narratives I’ve sent in past emails didn't come at the same time.  The lack of consistent WiFi makes life difficult as I have to negotiate for time.  And I sent some photos from my phone and usually prefer to write from the computer, hence the time gaps. 

The Sea Days were the days I expected to get all sorts of work done on my writing, but the ship has so many interesting lectures that I end up going to them instead of sitting at the computer.  

Wednesday started with surging along the West coast of Chile with major lurches and unbalancing movements.  After leaving Castro, we cruised through the Gulf of Corcovado and finally through the protected areas of the Chilean fjords.  And today was more fjords and an 8 am stop at the beautiful Brujo Glacier.   That was super exciting.  I tried to experiment with all four camera devices only to discover two I thought were charged weren't.  I'm happy I found that out now instead of in Antarctica.  I did get to try some new tricks with my new Panasonic ZS70 camera.  The photo below of the Brujo Glacier was taken with my ZS70 camera.
Above:  Brujo Glacier
The following is another photo of El Brujo Glacier, similar to the one above, this one made with my iPhone 8 Plus.
Above: El Brujo Glacier
The photo below is a photo of yours truly in front of the Brujo Glacier.
Above:  Diane at El Brujo Glacier

For no special reason I’m also including an aerial photo of the Brujo Glacier that was made on the December 2018 cruise, and posted on their tracking site (See below).  This was the cruise My friend Dayle and Larry were on, Dayle made some nice photos of the Brujo Glacier on her cruise with her iPhone 7 Plus.  I’m including this aeria photo because it’s shows our ship (Seabourn Quest) with the Brujo Glacier and I just found it interesting.  I believe this photo was made with a camera-quadcopter (aka drone), as I did find out that the ship was licensed for drone photography.  The photographer on this photo was listed as “Seelye Martin and CT Productions,” and Seelye Martin is also listed as an expedition leader on the Quest.  His bio says “For 30 years, Martin has studied sea ice, icebergs, and the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica."
Above: 2018 photo made by Quest crew member
Our ship spent a long time at the Brujo Glacier with mimosa cocktails and coffee and rain and photo ops. The Captain turned the ship totally around so folks that were still in their robes could see it from their verandas.

I took some videos at El Brujo Glacier  but haven't posted them yet.

We left the Brujo Glacier and as of this writing we are in the Sarmiento Channel.  Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we go through the Straights of Magellan and dock in Punta Arenas, which will be the first time our feet have hit the ground since we left Castro.

The map below is courtesy of the ship’s GPS tracking system. I’ve added a note showing where my Brujo Glacier photo was made, and where we are at this writing.
Above:  Map courtesy of the ships GPS tracking system
At the lectures the geologists talked about the glacier and the photographers gave us helpful suggestions about taking interesting shots.  I tried a couple of the photography suggestions and hope they will come through.   Interesting to me was how blue the Brujo Glacier was.  The blue comes from the snow being so compacted there is no air in it and so when the sun hits it, the red and yellow refractions are lost.  The bare rocks at the  edge show where it had receded from.  It takes time for the vegetation to start growing. There were beautiful waterfalls in the hills of the fjords so all in all it was an exciting beginning to the day. 

Good food and good times all day. 

Cruise Day 7 (Saturday, 1-18-20): Strait of Magellan: Arrived at Punta Arenas, Chile this morning:

We docked at Punta Arenas, Chile this morning after several days of cruising, we came though the Strait of Magellan. We are scheduled to be in Punta Arenas for about 12 hours before we take off again and head for Ushuaia, Argentina, our final port before sailing off to Antarctica.  I’ll write more about the city of Punta Arenas later.  

In Punta Arenas there are two types of penguins, the king penguins and the magellanic penguins, hopefully we may see some penguins here. 😀

Below is another GPS tracking map courtesy of our ship's GPS tracking system, they record a location every hour or so.  It's marked up to show where we were yesterday at El Brujo Glacier, and where we are now (Punta Arenas, Chile).
Above;  Map showing our GPS tracking points from El Brujo Glacier to Punta Arenas

Before I tell you about the good touring part of my day, let me start by saying it wasn't cold Saturday in Punta Arenas, Chile, about a high of 57 degrees F, but it was so windy it was unbelievable. The report said up to 55 mph winds.  I overheard a guide say this isn't that windy for Punta Arenas.  It is around about 37 mph at this writing, but the wind was 80 mph yesterday, which brings me to a new point.  When we got off the shuttle bus in the Plaza de Armas (the main square in Punta Arenas), I got something in my eye (I thought).  I wept and it hurt and then my other eye starting hurting and I was afraid I had mascara running down my face.  Instead the tears had mixed with the sunscreen I had on and I had tiny bits of kleenex all over my face. 

Fortunately I had Systane eye drops with me.  But I had to wear my darkest sunglasses which prevented me from using my camera because I couldn't see very well.  Finally that subsided and I could manage in the shade.  I thought I had gotten hair in my eye.  Then tonight at the port talk a man sitting next to me started talking about the disturbance from last night and that his eyes hurt so bad he went blind and a young person came by with a windex bottle that had saline solution and let him use some and his eyes started feeling better.  It seems that both of us had gotten into some left over tear gas from some demonstrations.  I'm ok now, but my eyes were already sensitive from the cataract surgery and following eye drops and this aggravated that.  But I wasn’t as badly off as the man at the port was.

Now back to the good part of our Saturday.  We started the day with a walking tour through the Plaza de Armas and at the center of the square is a huge monument dedicated to adventurer Hernando De Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan).  The photo below shows this statue.
Above:  Statue of Ferdinand Magellan
The photo below is the bottom part of the statue of Ferdinand Magellan.  Below Magellan is an indigenous Patagonia and local legend says that a kiss to the statue's foot will bring you good luck and calm seas as you pass through Drake Passage on your way to Antarctica.  Also the legend says that if only one passenger skips the kiss, everyone onboard will suffer bad luck crossing Drake Passage.  Neither Joan (one of our traveling mates) or I wanted to be the ones to bring bad luck to our ship, so we both gave the foot a kiss, but we did bring hospital-grade disinfectant wipes to use on the foot before we planted our kisses. 
Above:  Kissing the toe for luck

The following photo is yours truly standing in front of the Punta Arenas sign overlooking the Strait of Magellan (which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans).
Above:  Diane at the Strait of Magellan
After the kleenex bit and the toe kissing, we went to the Punta Arenas Naval and Maritime Museum.  They have a fascinating exhibit about the Ernest Shackleton 1914 journey to cross Antarctica via the South Pole..   I'm not sure how to summarize it... it is almost unbelievable. This is  a very brief version and I suggest that anyone or everyone read either his book, South or the one about him called Endurance.  The ship Endurance set off for Antarctic with 23 men.  It got caught in ice floes and ultimately the ice broke the ship up.  The photos of the Endurance Shackelton's ship trapped in the ice are eerie, below is a copy of one of these photo taken by the ship’s photographer taken at night.
Above:  The Endurance, Shackelton's ship trapped in the ice
The men saved as much of the supplies as they could, plus the life boats. They dragged the life boats for months until they couldn't anymore.  They made a shelter out of two of the lifeboats.  After months of enduring the cold and the dark, Shackleton decided he had to go get help and chose 5 men to go with him in a 23-foot boat that had been named the James Caird,

Shackleton and his crew made it to South Georgia Island, across the Drake Passage in a hurricane with boulders in the bottom of the boat for ballast.

The illustration below is of that journey found on the Internet. 
Above:  Voyage of the James Caird
But they landed on the deserted side of the island so they had to hike across which was considered impossible by the local whaling fisherman.  Shackleton make three attempts to get back to Elephant Island and failed, but finally he and a Chilean Captain Pardo tried a fourth time.

On Elephant Island the remaining men had waited over five months and when they spotted Captain Pardo's ship they first thought it was a mirage but then decided it was real, but the ship was sailing past them  So they hurriedly build a fire and sent smoke signals. Captain Pardo then sailed toward them and sent boats to pick them up as well as their instruments which had valuable scientific data.  Captain Pardo is a huge hero in Chile. We've had several variations on the Shackleton story, so don't judge me harshly if you find a different version.

After the Naval and Maritime Museum tour we went to the Cemetery of Punta Arenas, which was amazing.  HUGE mausoleums from many English and Croatian business folks.  The photo and a crop of that photo are of the mausoleum of the family of José Menéndez.  José Menéndez, who with Sara Braun was one of the biggest merchants and land owners.  The Menéndez mausoleum are currently covered with red paint from the protests going on for more reasons than I know. The literature says that in 2008 it was claimed Menéndez was guilty of genocide of the local natives.  Currently his land baron status goes against what the protesters are angry about, plus the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population and  especially about the retirement system and the public transportation fare increases.
Above:  Mausoleum of the family of José Menéndez

Above:  Crop of photo of Mausoleum of the family of José Menéndez
And last but not least we went to the Nao Victoria Museum, which is about 5 miles away from the Plaza de Armas.  This museum features a full-size replica of one of Magellan's galleons, the Nao Victoria.  I was stunned at how small and chubby it was, to think he made it through the Drake passage in that small ship with only primitive instruments, WOW!

Also at the museum are a a full scale reproduction of Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle and the James Caird (mentioned above in the story about Ernest Shackleton).   The 3 photos below show the replicas of the Nao Victoria, the James Caird (shown with cruise buddy Joan), and the HMS Beagle (I took this photo from the bow of the ship).
Above:  Replica of one of Magellan's galleons

Above:  Replica of the James Caird (shown with Joan)

Above:  Photo taken from the bow of the Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle replica
So enough about Saturday.  We heard from our Captain that there are 8 meter (about 25 feet) swells in the Drake Passage, which is too much for our ship to navigate safely, so we plan to stay in Ushuaia extra time putting us 18 hours behind schedule. 

Cruise Day 8:  (Sunday the 19th):  Out to sea: Scenic Cruising Beagle Channel, docked in Ushuaia

I wrote two emails Monday that “disappeared."  I expected them to be in my email Sent folder, alas they were not there so I’m guessing Google Gmail ate them.  So I’m trying again. 

We left Punta Arenas Saturday night cruised through the Beagle Channel Sunday morning.  As we approached Ushuaia it was very beautiful and called Glacier Alley.  The glaciers were high up in the surrounding mountains, not close to the channel.  We arrived in Ushuaia after lunch on Sunday; we disembarked and walked down a long pier with 6 expedition boats looking down at us, all apparently fearing the Drake Passage that was coming up.  We walked into town looking for an ATM as we were now in Argentina so our Chilean pesos don't work anymore.  After much confusion and consultation with other tourists I finally got some Argentina Pesos.  But instead of $100 I only got $10 and the bank charged almost that much.  Grrr.  Then, the tragedy...the ATM. ate my card.  And being Sunday, banks were closed so there was no one to get to rescue the card.  

For the day (Sunday) in Ushuaia, we took the local tour bus, which was old and rickety.  Below is a photo of the bus.  It was a double-decker Routemaster Model 60, brought directly from England and remodeled.   It had two “No Smoking" signs saying the fines would be in either 400 or 1000 British Pounds.  We rode through the various neighborhoods with small but nicely kept houses with dogs tied up in every yard.  And a new area with row after row after row of apartment buildings, about half were still under construction.
Above:  Our tour bus
We had a “photo stop “ at the Devil's Lagoon, which was a smallish pond located in the city, and then another stop at the old airport.  

The photo below shows an old DC-3 airplane that we saw at the entrance to the old airport.  The plane was formerly with the Argentina Navy and was restored in 2004; the plane was named “Cabo de Hornos” (Cape Horn).  The two engines on the DC-3 planes were Pratt & Whitney (P&W) Wasp radial piston engines.  On a Throwback Thursday note, when I started my aerospace engineering career back in Florida, I worked for P&W, although the radial piston engines were way before my time.  But I am familiar with the P&W Wasp engines.  While I was working at P&W, I learned to skydive in Indiantown, Florida, we jumped from a Howard airplane that had a single P&W Wasp Junior radial piston engine.
Above:  Restored DC-3 at the old airport
But back to Sunday, Ushuaia is the main city in the Tierra Del Fuego (Land of Fire in English) archipelago, named by Magellan because he saw fires along the shore. The coast line of Ushuaia is beautiful, the photo below was taken looking back on Ushuaia over the Beagle Bay, you can see the skyline of part of the city, the sign I believe was called the Ushuaia cartel, but I’m not sure.
Above:  Ushuaia skyline in the background
The following photo is of yours truly, this was a photo op I couldn’t pass up as the sign ("Ushuaia fin del mundo") says your are at the end of the world because of its location as the southernmost city, definitely worth a photo.  On another Throwback Thursday note I couldn’t help thinking about a time I was at another “end of the world” place, back in 2014 when I hiked the Camino de Santiago.  I was at Finisterre in Spain and until the discovery of the Americas Finisterre was the last outpost of the known world, and I made a selfie at that “end of the world.”

Translation for "Los Pobladores de Ushuaia les damos la bienvenida" also on the sign is The people of Ushuaia welcome you.
Above:  Diane at the "End of the World"
Later the tour bus dropped us at the Maritime Museum, which was formerly the Ushuaia Prison. We were told the prison was ok for a prison, the cells were fairly sized. The prisoners were given education and the place had a hospital and a bakery and I assume a kitchen These prisoners built the railroad and everything else around there.  I was told they preferred to go out and do hard labor to staying inside  Compared with the life of a sailor this didn’t seems so awful to me, other than the loss of freedom, but sailors didn’t really have much freedom either.  Anyway, the place is now a maritime museum and the exhibits were about the ships that brought supplies and about ships that wrecked. The most interesting display for me was the Monte Cervantes shipwreck, which sank in the Beagle Channel in 1930.  The Monte Cervantes was about the size of the Titanic, but all 1500 crew (except for the captain) and passengers were rescued and housed in the town with the 612 residents. 

The following photo is a selfie of my traveling pals taken back at our cruise ship (Seabourn Quest), Scott King, and Joan and Ron Sofen, although I guess I should call this photo a ‘weesie” rather than a “selfie.”  The photo is out of focus but I’m including it anyway. 
Above:  My traveling pals
Once back to our cruise ship I was thinking we would leave for Antarctica Sunday night. Well not so fast!  Three other ships had left, but as I mentioned in an earlier email our captain made the announcement that the Drake Passage had 60 knot winds (hurricane force) and 25-foot swells so we were going to wait it out in Ushuaia and leave at noon the next day, Monday. 

That meant I could go to the bank Monday and get my debit card.  That thought cheered me up and Formal nigh on Sunday was a lot of fun.  

Cruise Day 9:  (Monday the 20th):  Left Ushuaia: Out to sea, crossing the Drake Passage

At 7:00 am Monday our ship’s captain told us the bad weather had finally moved through and the swells would have calmed down by the time we got to the Drakes Passage, so we left early Monday morning.  Uh Oh... no ATM card retrieval for yours truly.   Well, the captain was right, the passage was pretty smooth.  The other ships that left before us had to wait it out in the Beagle Channel.  I think our Captain Joost Eldering is is pretty smart!  

We had an uneventful day going through the dreaded Drake Passage.  We had to bio-check our gear to be sure we weren’t taking any germs or invasive species into Antarctica.  We had dinner at the famous Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame) Grill.  

Cruise Day 10:  (Tuesday the 21st):  Out to sea:  Across the Drake Passage

Today is Tuesday and another sea day with the Trivia Finals (a ship game); our team is in the middle of the pack.  Below is a screen shot of a map with the ship's GPS tracking points showing where we were at 1:00 pm Tuesday afternoon.  We have crossed the Drake Passage.

Above:  GPS tracking points showing where we were at 1:00 pm Tuesday afternoon

Cruise Day 11: (Wednesday, January 22): Antarctic Experience #1 (Waterboat Point, Gonzalez Videla Base on the Antarctic Mainland in Paradise Bay)

After passing through the Drake Passage Tuesday, we sailed through Anvers Island and Brabant Island, through the Gerlache Strait, and into Paradise Bay. And look what I saw when I woke up Wednesday morning!  See photo below.
Above:  Paradise Bay
Our ship arrived this morning at Waterboat Point in Paradise Bay, this is where the González Videla Base is located.  More later, very excited to go ashore at 12:30 today.

Paradise Bay is where my friend Dayle and Larry did their kayaking on their 2018 Antarctica cruise.  Dayle had some nice photos of that area including the González Videla Base.

Also the two maps below courtesy of the ship’s GPS Tracking System, which shows where we currently are.

After reaching Antarctica our first stop was at at Waterboat Point in Paradise Bay, this is where the González Videla Base is located.  We took a zodiac to the base where they had stretched out a red carpet for us to go up a ramp, and face the penguins nesting all around.  There is a rule that you can go no closer than 15 feet from the wildlife unless they come to you.  Well,  all bets were off there.  

There were gentoo penguins everywhere including a rare all white one.  She leads a normal life and was sitting on a nest.   She had had 3-5 mates depending on which naturalist you spoke to last and her name was Lucy, Marilyn or Blondie, again according to whom you spoke last.   There were tons of chicks being kept warm by their parents, sometimes there were 2 chicks in a nest and sometimes just an egg.  They are cute and comical.

At this Waterboat base there was a museum and gift shop and a dormitory that we could go in.  The museum was mostly photos and tee shirts and mugs saying Paradise Bay, Antarctica.  It cost $10 to send a postcard home from there.  I didn’t do that and didn’t buy anything because I had already use up all my Chilean Pesos.  And you know my story about the Argentinian pesos, I didn’t get enough.

It was a nice smelly excursion.  Penguin “mud” (aka guano, poop) was at a minimum we were told, but we still had to have our boots power-hosed down when we returned to the ship.

The 4 photos below were taken Wednesday at Paradise Bay and González Videla Base.  The photos show some cute gentoo penguins, including our ship the Seabourn Quest, and a sign at the González Videla Base.

Above: Gentoo penguin with baby

Above:  Gentoo penguins and Seabourn Quest

Above:  More Gentoo Penguins and babies

Above:  Sign at González Videla Base

Cruise Day 12: (Thursday, January 23):  Antarctic Experience #2 (Pléneau Island)

After Paradise Bay we sailed through the Lemaire Channel to Pléneau Island and spent Thursday at Pléneau Island, NE of Hovgaard Island in the Wilhem Archipelago .  

We were scheduled to kayak at 10:00 am, but due to weather our kayak trip was cancelled.  Taking advice from my friend Dayle who had made this journey in 2018, we booked 3 kayak tours, one every other day.  This was our second cancellation, I told the expedition leader that I was disappointed, he said, “how about I give you a hug.”  Then some other staff members gave me more hugs, they knew how disappointing it is  The hugs were kind of a Throwback Thursday moment for me, they reminded me of a hug I got back in 2014 on my Camino de Santiago hike.  In Palas de Rei, Spain I received a hug from a guy from Virginia (USA) volunteering for his church to encourage pilgrims by giving out hugs.  That group was a fun group. 

After that we got re-dressed for our 11:00 am zodiac cruise.  The cruise was not a disappointment, it was fabulous!  

This was the most gorgeous place you can imagine.  Along with the color photos I took, my new Panasonic Lumix ZS70 camera takes what is called “dynamic monochrome” images.  This feature makes the contrast between the black mountains and the white ice even more dramatic.   It was so beautiful that day they cancelled the mandatory recap and briefing in the auditorium, so we could stay and look at the scenery more.

The following 4 photos were taken Thursday at Pléneau Island.  More stunting views!  The one photo shows the ship’s crew in a zodiac pushing an iceberg away from the ship.
Above:  Pléneau Island

Above:  Pléneau Island

Above:  Ship’s crew pushing an iceberg away from the ship

Above:  Pléneau Island

Later that day we went to the Observation Lounge on the ship where they served hot buttered rum, only I opted for a glass of Pinot Noir instead, a luscious red wine that is juicy and delicious.  

We had dinner in the Thomas Keller Grill which was really tasty. 

Cruise Day 13: (Friday, January 24):  Antarctic Experience #3 (Neko Harbor:  Polar Plunge!  Yikes!)

Today we are at Neko Harbor, an inlet in Andvard Bay west coast of Graham Land.   I could have spent my few Argentine pesos here if there was any place to spend them.  We were scheduled to go ashore at 2:00 pm, but were totally fogged in most of the day.  I bought a bathing cap especially for the Polar Plunge.  The Polar Plunge is where some of the guests (and even some of the crew) braved the elements and jumped into the icy sea!  Whooppee!  With a safety line attached to a harness of course. 

The Polar Plunge was done a little differently than on all earlier cruises except one.  In the cruise (early January) before the one we are on now, a new event started, the Polar Plunge was organized where guest would jump off the ship into the icy cold waters of the sea.  Before this, passengers would take the polar plunge into one of the Seabourn Quest's pools (filled with icy cold sea water!).

On our cruise we did the same thing as the early January cruise, we took the plunge into the sea from the ship.  I forget the exact temperatures but the air temperature was around 40F and the water temperature was around 32F.  

32F may not seem that cold, but you have to remember that fresh water freezes at 32F and the average human's brain and heart are composed of 73%  freshwater, and the lungs are about 83% fresh water.  So you can't stay very long in freezing water!

Scott and I both did the Polar Plunge and survived.  There were 50 passengers and maybe 25 crew members that made the plunge.  I was happy for the buoyancy of the salt water.  

Below are 6 photos of yours truly taking the Polar Plunge into the freezing waters of Neko Harbor.  The 5th and 6th photos are just crops and closeups of two of the previous photos.  The closeups are in case anyone might suspect that I hired a stunt double to do my plunge.  No stunt doubles for me, I do all my own stunts thank you very much.  

Quite a difference from swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream from my South Florida days!

Below are two screen shots of photos at Neko Harbor posted online by the ship's crew.
Above:  Neko Harbor, photo by ship's crew
Above:  Neko Harbor, photo by ship's crew
Cruise Day 14: (Saturday, January 25):  Antarctic Experience #4 (Kayaking in Cierva Cove, Woohoo!)

Today is Saturday and we are in Cierva Cove, we finally did some kayaking today.  Woohoo!

It was cold but we had dry suits, so the only thing that was cold was my fingers from taking photos with my iPhone.  The kayak paddles had foam gloves attached which were supposed to keep our hands warm, but NOT for me anyway because I kept taking my hands out to take photos.  I started rethinking my earlier decision (prior to the cruise) NOT to purchase a pair of dedicated “photography gloves," the type with the neat feature where the tip of the forefinger and thumb fold back, giving good finger feel to operate a camera or phone, but still keeping 90% of your hand covered.

We have spotted leopard seals, penguins and whales, so exciting!

If it is true a picture is worth a thousand words, the photo below says it all.   Scott says we are the last couple.
Above:  Diane and Scott in the last kayak
It was easy to get out of the zodiac into the kayak and out of the kayak again.  They made it easy, maybe easier than getting in on land.   We paddled around in a group, and got within 10 feet of a leopard seal sleeping on an iceberg.   We saw the ranger station but couldn't land.

After we were out for awhile, the current brought in a lot of broken ice and we had to paddle through it.   Some chunks were big enough to beach the kayak so to speak, so we had to be somewhat judicious where we went.

It was a thrilling ride.   Thank goodness we got to go.  I"m happy
we signed up for 3 trips so we got to go once.   Scott said, if we
had another reservation he would go again, even though it was


The following photo is of the sleeping leopard seal we saw while kayaking.  I was hoping it didn’t decide to wake up and jump at us.  I would hate to see a swimming leopard seal, they've been known to attack boats!
Above:  Sleeping Leopard seal
The next photo is an usie of Scott and yours truly in our kayak.
Above:  Diane and Scott in kayak
The photo below is a scenery shot taken from our kayak, icebergs all over the place.  As you can tell it wasn't a sunny day.
Above:  Icebergs all over the place
The following photo is just a screen shot of a photo posted on the Seabourn Quest website (, it is of some kayakers on the day we kayaked, but I have no idea if Scott and I are in this photos as there were many kayakers that day.
Above:  Kayakers from the Seabourn Quest on the day we kayaked (reference only)

When we first boarded the ship at the start of the cruise, they told us "Experience the Antarctic, don't just take photos."   I can tell you the experience surpasses the photos, which are pretty spectacular in my opinion.  For example, like while kayaking, just being so low and close to the water to see the icebergs was amazing. We also went in the zodiacs in the afternoon.  The following 3 photos of icebergs taken from the zodiac.  These photos were taken with the new Panasonic Lumix ZS70 camera I purchased.  The 3rd photo is a panoramic photo. 
Above:  Iceberg, photo from zodiac, taken with Panasonic ZS70 camera

Above:  Iceberg, photo from zodiac, taken with Panasonic ZS70 camera

Above:  Iceberg,  panoramic photo from zodiac, taken with Panasonic ZS70 camera
The map below shows the location of the previous stops.  This map courtesy of the ship’s GPS tracking system that is posted online at the Seabourn Quest site.
Above: Map showing stops
Cruise Day 15: (Sunday, January 26):  Antarctic Experience #5 (Brown Bluff)

Today is Sunday and we are at Brown Bluff, a million-year-old volcano which gets its name from its brown/black slopes, the location is shown on the map below (GPS map courtsey of the Seabourn Quest), it’s just a little south of Hope Bay.
Above:  Map showing location of Brown Bluff
The great rock formations at Brown Bluff is home to Adélie penguin.  We've seen 3 varieties of penguins on this cruise (Adélie, gentoo and chinstrap so far) and learned a lot about penguin behavior.  The gentoo penguins, which are the most common and are accused of taking over the world because they are so prolific.  The chinstrap penguins which have white faces and a black stripe across the necks, they sort of looks like a motor cycle helmet, but we didn't see a lot of these.  Of the three, I like the Adélie penguin's the best, they are smaller than the gentoos and have black beaks, the gentoos have orangey beaks.  

Of all the different species of penguin, only two (emperor and Adélie) make the Antarctic continent their true home.  Other species like the chinstrap and gentoo breed on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, where the conditions are less severe.

It seems penguins are kind of indecisive.  They huddle down at the water considering whether to go in or not.  So you stand poised with your finger on the video button and then they turn around and go back to somewhere else.  Or sometimes one gets pushed in and if he doesn't get eaten by a leopard seal, the others follow.  I tried so many times to get the video of them jumping in the water but missed it everytime.  I'll borrow a video to post later.  Watching penguins is a lot of fun.  I did see one of them sleeping.  Leopard seals are huge and scary, so those little penguin guys have to be wary all the time.  

When we go on the land where the penguins are, we have to step in disinfectant to protect the penguins from germs from the ship, and on the way back we step in a scrubber on the shore to rid our boots of the penguin’s guano.  They eat tiny pinkish krill, they eat so much krill that it turns their guano a pinkish color.  Then when we get back on the ship, it's back into the disinfectant to be sure we are not tracking penguin stuff onto the ship.  Anyone that uses trekking poles has to do the same to the poles.  The Antarctic Treaty is very specific and strict about all of this procedure.

The attached photos are all from the Brown Bluff area today.  This place has some very interesting rock formations and the cutest penguins, the Adélie penguin. 

The first two photo shows one of the rock formations (same rock, just two different photos).  The next photo is of an unusual rock formation.  The next three photos shows some penguins, mostly the Adélie penguins but you’ll note one gentoo penguin with its orangey beak.  The next three photos are of Scott and yours truly, same photo, just a couple of crops.
Above:  Photo taken with iPhone 8 Plus (28mm-equivalent focal length lens)

Above:  Photo taken with Panasonic DC-ZS70 (24mm-equivalent focal length lens)

Above:  Unusual rock formation

Above: This photos shows penguins along the shore, with our ship in the background, also a couple of the zodiacs

Above:  Note one gentoo penguin with its orangey beak

Above: Indecisive penguins trying to decide what they want to do

Below is the video of the penguins, I call this "Penguin Parade."

Above:  Diane & Scott

Above:  Diane & Scott (Crop 1 of original photo)

Above:  Diane & Scott (Crop 2 of original photo)

Cruise Day 16 (Monday, January 27th): Left Antarctica early, heading for the Falkland Islands

We left Antarctica one day early (see map below).  We are hightailing it now burning 45 extra metric tons of fuel to beat a weather system moving in.  So we get to stop at New Island in the Falkland Islands Tuesday morning about 10 am.  All we see now are waves and sky.
Above:  Map showing our position at this writing
There are five species of penguins in the Falkland Islands so we may get to see the king penguin.  King penguins are among the largest in the world, only the Antarctic emperor penguin is taller.     

One of the rewarding parts of this Antarctic cruise has been the ship's lectures we get to attend.  We went to a series of lectures today  One was about the three skydivers that were killed in Antarctica in 1997, they had hoped to be among the first to parachute to the South Pole.  There were 6 skydivers, 2 jumped out and pulled their rip cords, one guy’s automatic activation device triggered his reserve chute and saved his life,  the other three never pulled their rip cords.   Really sad.  What happened? No one really knows for certain, only speculations.  

Another lecture was about a mountain climb on South Georgia.  For background, in 1916, explorer Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia Island at King Haakon Bay after sailing from Elephant Island in the 22-foot lifeboat, the James Caird.  Shackleton, along with two of that crew, then hiked across South Georgia's mountains and glaciers to reach help on the other side of the island.

This lecture was by a Trevor Potts.  In 1994, Trevor Potts and three others re-created Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 epic journey by boat from Elephant Island to South Georgia. And in 2001 he duplicated Shackleton’s mountain crossing from King Haakon Bay to Stromness. In this lecture, Potts covered his successful mountain crossing.  An excellent presentation.

Cruise Day 17: (Tuesday January 28th): Now at New Island in the Falkland Islands

We anchored this morning at New Island, which is is located at the extreme west of the Falklands’ archipelago.   See the following two maps for reference, courtsey of the Seaborn Quest GPS Tracking System.
Above:  Map showing our path from Antarctica to the Falklands

Above:  Map showing the Falkland Islands
Below are 3 photos of Adélie penguins debating, marching and sleeping.   The pink on their tummies is poop, the color comes from the pinkish krill they eat.

I didn't get a good focus on a couple of these photos, I used my new Panasonic Lumix ZS70 camera with the 30X optical zoom.  We were some distances away from the penguins and two of the photos are at about 24X optical zoom, the other about 10X.  I'm still on a learning curve with this camera.
Above:  Adélie penguins debating? (10X optical zoom)

Above:  Adélie penguins marching? (24X optical zoom)

Above:  Adélie penguin sleeping (24X optical zoom)  

Last night we had a lecture about Penguin Poop (yes I said the "P" word again), said to have the consistency of a wet tuna salad.  Adélie penguins generate considerable pressures to propel their poop away from the edge of the nest.  The Adelie penguin is a master pooper!  It was pretty funny as the lecturer even had hypothesis formulas about how far the poop could be projected (F = (m dot * V)e - (m dot * V)0 + (pe - p0) * Ae = d(mv)/dt or F = (mv)dot), including calculus with derivatives and fractions, etc.  Far more complicated than Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.  Then he said that was all just a theory since it can't be proven because sometimes there were lumps in the poop.   And he had unanswered questions, like do penguins ever get constipated?  The room was roaring.

Cruise ships don't normally stop here.  The extra stop for us was due to leaving Antarctica early to beat a weather system moving in. A similar thing happened to my friend Dayle on her 2018 cruise, she had the extra stop at New Island due to a big storm changing the cruise path.)

New Island is home to a hugely diverse amount of wildlife.  We saw our 4th breed of penguins (rockhoppers) and three other major birds.  My favorite was the Black-browed Albatross , I fell in love with these birds, I couldn't take enough photos of them, attached are my shots of one taking off in flight.  I’m sending both the original photos (to show the scenery) and some crops of the same photos (to show closer view of the bird).

The first 2 following photos are of an albatross perched to take off in the wind currents (original photo and cropped version).

The second 2 following photos are of the albatross taking off (original photo and cropped version).

The next 2 following photos are of the albatross soaring (original photo and cropped version).

And the last following photo is of an albatross wondering if its feet look too big.
Above:  Albatross perched to take off
Above:  Albatross perched to take off (crop)
Above:  Albatross taking off
Above:  Albatross taking off (crop)
Above:  Albatross soaring
Above:  Albatross soaring (crop)

Above:  Albatross looking at its big feet
And we also saw rockhoppers penguins, cormorants, caracaras and many other smaller birds. This time of year all the birds are trying to get fat enough to molt their feathers, grow new ones and then go out to sea for the winter.  What was so interesting was that all the birds are all intermingled.

We got to see a caracara come to get lunch hoping for a baby rockhoppers penguin or baby albatross.   Watching the behavior of said chicks was fascinating because they all knew the danger.  The penguin chicks huddled in creches (refers to care of another's offspring, for instance in a colony).   The albatross chicks, huge compared to the penguins, would shift in their nests to always face a predator, and would flap their beaks at a caracara that would come close.

Below are 5 more photos from New Island:

The 1st photo is of a King Cormorant (the puffy chicks with the cormorant are rockhopper penguins).

The 2nd photo is of a rockhopper penguin creche

The 3rd photo is of a Striated Caracara (a bird of prey) wondering what might be for lunch.

The 4th photo is of rockhopper penguin and albatross chicks together

The 5th photo is of rockhopper penguin parents feeding a teenager
Above:  King Cormorant
Above:  Rockhopper penguin creche
Above:  Striated Caracara
Above:  Rockhopper penguin and albatross chicks
Above:  Rockhopper penguin parents feeding a teenager
Cruise Day 18 (Wednesday, January 29th) at Stanley, Falkland Islands

After leaving New Island, we sailed to Stanley and anchored there.  See map below.
Above:  Map of the Falkland Islands
The 1st photo is of yours truly coming through the Vistor’s Center in Stanley and we later went on some tours.
Above:  Diane at the Stanley Vistor's Center
The photo below is of some king penguins we saw on the Bluff Cove Lagoon Penguin Tour.  If you look under the belly of the third penguin ( in the center four), you will see a chick’s bum, the chick is too big to get under the feathers   The king penguin have a different life style from other penguins.  They only have chicks every other year.  After they get their chicks really fat, the adults go out to sea for the winter sometimes going even above the equator.  The chicks lose about half of their body weight so when their parents come back it takes both parents going for food every day to get them fat again.  The chicks by then have their feathers and can go to sea.  The adults then get fat and molt their feathers so they can go back to the sea at the end of summer.  Then it starts again.  Don’t read on if you don’t want to know the salacious part.  The chicks that are big enough to go out to sea but not big enough to mate. PRACTICE.  The guides call it play house.  This is your science lesson for today.
Above: King penguins at Bluff Cove Lagoon
There were many more king penguins at Volunteer Point Penguin Colony, but that was a long way off.  No Thanks.  By doing the shorter tour at Bluff Cove Lagoon, that gave us time to also go to two other places, Gypsy Cove and Yorke Bay.

Gypsy Cove is where magellanic penguins breed, and nest underground in burrows.  The chicks are getting so big that both parents go to sea to get enough food to feed them.  So most of the rookery were out when we were there, but I did get to see a few.  The following two photos are of magellanic penguins.
Above:  Magellanic penguin Gypsy Cove

Above:  Magellanic penguin Gypsy Cove
Of the 8 penguin species that live in Antarctica, its nearby islands, and the Falklands, we have seen 6 species (chinstrap, gentoo, Adélie, king, magellanic and rockhopper) on this cruise, below is a chart found on the Internet that shows their relative size.  The two we didn't see were the emperor and the macaroni.

The photo below was also taken at Gypsy Cove, I thought the rocks and the cloud formations were like a mirror image and would make a nice photo.
Above:  Rocks and clouds at Gypsy Cove
Yorke Bay is one of the invasion sites in 1982 where the Argentine naval commandos landed, marking the start of a full-scale invasion of Stanley.  Well you will remember what happen after that, British forces retook Stanley 74 days after the Argentine invasion,   While Argentine was in control of the island they laid tens of thousands of land mines across the island to slow a British counter-attack.   After they surrendered they gave out diagrams of the minefields and the folks in the Falklands are still unearthing them thus making some areas not accessible.  There are still signs around where mines are still suspected to be, see photo below.
Above:  Sign at Yorke Bay
After all that we went by the Falklands Post Service  My friend Martino had earlier written to me about a very rare stamp that depicts a king penguin, the stamp was issued 83 years ago.  I didn’t see that stamp, but did take a photo of a stamp display while I was at the post office, see photo below.
Above:  Stamp display at Falklands Post Service in Stanley

Cruise Day 19: (Thursday, January 30th), At sea, heading for Montevideo, Uruguay

Just thought I'd add a few photos from the ship, these were taken Thursday after leaving Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

The following photo was taken at one of the Trivia games we play on the ship, Scott and I were only average at this game.  Scott and I are in the center of the picture, toward the back.
Above:  Playing the Trivia game
The next photo is yours truly in front of the Thomas Keller restaurant. The Grill. Yum.
Above:  Diane at the Thomas Keller restaurant
Below is a photo from the Bridge, Very interesting.  But they would NOT let me steer the ship!   When I was on a cruise ship in France in 2015 on the Esperance (a 100-foot boat that held only 6 passengers), they let me take over the helm on that boat for a short time (very short)!   I guess that experience counted for nothing with the 650-foot (450 passengers) Seabourn Quest crew.  :o)
Above:  Bridge of the Seabourn Quest
Cruise Day 20: (Friday, January 31st) At sea, water, water everywhere...

I went to another lecture today by Trevor Potts, He gave a lecture about explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott's race to be the first man to the South Pole.  It is a fascinating story.  (Philip Chartrand may be interested in this story by Trevor Potts)

Amundsen borrowed a ship from another explorer, ostensibly going to the North Pole, but later decided to go to the South Pole. He carefully selected 19 men who were  experienced skiers and two dog sled drivers. They also had 116 sled dogs.  They made elaborate preparations as you can imagine.  When they arrived at Antiarctica at Whale Bay by the Ross Ice Shelf in the summer, they set up caches of food every 60 miles.  They all but a few maybe went north to wait out the winter.  When they came back they had to hurry as he had forgotten the 1912 Almanac so they had to finish by 12/31/1911 or they wouldn't have what they needed to navigate.

Amundsen took four men and headed off, reaching each cache, replenished and moved on going about 15 miles a day.  This is the awful part, as the dogs became redundant they were used as meat to feed the hungry men and the rest of the dogs. When they got to the South Pole they did many, many calculations to be sure they were right because they knew Scott was on the way also.  On the way every three miles, they built snow canisters with a black flag so they could find their way back.  Amundsen left a letter for Scott to give to the King of Norway saying they had made it.  He wanted to be sure the King knew and he was unsure they would make it back.  And they did make it back.

Scott was a military guy and took naval officers and scientists, motorized sledges that were the precursors to tanks used in WWI, Siberian ponies, and dogs.  It was said Amundsen seemed to do no wrong and Scoot could do nothing right.  First, Scott's motorized sledge was dropped on the ice and immediately sank. They were 30 miles short of where they were supposed to be on Ross Island and made other bad decisions, like leaving the skis behind at one point.  They had lots of other issues, and they knew when they saw Amundsen's black flag they had been beaten in the race to the South Pole.

But Scott and four other men continued on the final leg to the pole, and on the way back were beset with even more issues, among them even colder weather than expected, blizzards, frost bite, scurvy, two deaths among five people early on the return trip.  The blizzard stopped them.  Scott had given orders to an officer at the base camp that if Scott and his four men didn't return to a pre-arranged supply depot, that relief teams should not be sent any further.  The officer followed that order.  If the relief teams had gone another 10 or so miles they could have saved Scott and the other two men.  This officer regretted following orders for the rest of his life.  As I remember the story, when they finally did find Scott, they also found one of the Amundsen black flags, which ended up in a museum.

Here is a WOW factor!  Our lecturer Trevor Potts was in the town with the museum; the curator came to the pub across the street and brought the flag with him.  So Trevor got to actually hold a flag in his own hands that was left at the South Pole in 1911. The curator lost his job. 

A side note I also learned today:  Back in those days they had figured out that to prevent scurvy they needed vitamin C, but they didn't have pills so all of their attempts to freeze it or process it didn't work.  Most animals make their own vitamin C, some mammals can’t.  Primates, bats, capybaras and guinea pigs can't make their own vitamin C.  

I had a chance to talk with Mr. Potts after the lecture and tell him how much I enjoyed his lectures.  Below are a couple of photos of yours truly with Mr. Potts.
Above:  Diane and Trevor Potts

Above:  Diane and Trevor Potts
My friend Philip Chartrand sent me an email earlier that he himself had given a lecture on Shackleton’s polar expedition, and can also appreciate the accomplishment of Trevor Potts.  Philip thought it was great that I got to hear Potts in person.

We will dock in Montevideo, Uruguay Saturday morning, spend 8 hours or so there, then sail to Buenos Aires, Argentina which will be our last port on this cruise.  My Patagonia/Antarctica cruise will end Sunday.  My friend Dayle wrote in her blog about her 2018 Patagonia/Antarctica cruise, "what an unbelievable experience we had. So many fun times with so many fun people – guests and crew.." I know the feeling.

Cruise Day 21 (Saturday, February 1st) Now in Montevideo, Uruguay

Today we are in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Hard to believe it's February already, the Antarctica portion of this cruise is over, and the last day for the Patagonia portion.  

We arrived in Montevideo early this morning, Montevideo is a port city and the capital of Uruguay.  The photo below is what we saw as we arrived.  That tall building that look kind of like a sail or airfoil is the Telecommunications Tower, the headquarters of Uruguay's government-owned telecommunications company and the tallest building in the country.
Above:  Coming into Montevideo
From the above photo you can also see the hot tub that is on the deck where are cabin is, kind of secluded from the rest of the ship.

The next photo show some abandoned old rusty ship in the Port of Montevideo.

The following photo shows another view of the Port of Montevideo, taken from the Observation Lounge on our ship.  You can see another cruise ship in this photo, the Celebrity Eclipse.  The Celebrity Eclipse is a larger ship than our ship.  The Celebrity Eclipse is 1,040 feet in length and carries 3,420 passengers, compared with 650 feet in length for the Seabourn Quest, which carries only 450 passengers.  The Celebrity Eclipse also just got back from Antarctica.
Above:  Another view of the Port of Montevideo
But larger ships like the Eclipse don’t make “shore landings” like we did on the Quest.  There’s a rule that states that ships carrying more than 500 passengers on board are not allowed to land any passengers while in Antarctic waters. These larger cruise ships offer only “cruise-by” visits to Antarctica.  The Quest is one of the larger cruise ships that is allowed to make the “shore landings, and it’s luxurious interior and facilities have made it hugely popular."

The following screen shot of a photo taken by the crew of the ship and posted on their website, shows our ship on the day we docked.
Our ship at Montevideo after we docked, photo by the crew
The next photo is yours truly, the welcome sign at the container port of Montevideo is translated into several languages as you can tell.  That's the Eclipse in the background, to the left in the photo.
Above:  Diane at the Welcome Wheel in Montevideo
Uruguay is the second smallest country in S.A.  it has 3.35 million residents. 12 million cows, huge numbers of sheep and 1 million horses.  We walked around some this morning.  And took a city tour this afternoon. The photo ops were pretty poor.  Govt buildings and memorials.  The old Fish Market was the most photogenic. 

We went to the old Fish Market at the Montevideo Port today, although it is no longer a fish market.  It’s been converted to a bunch of cafes, restaurants, etc.  It’s located in the Port Market (Mercado del Puerto in Spanish).  The next 3 photos are from both inside and outside where we were. 
Above:  Mercado del Puerto
Above:  Mercado del Puerto

Above:  Mercado del Puerto
We are mostly packed to begin a short stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina where the temp is supposed to go to 96 degrees F tomorrow. UGH! Send me back to Antarctica.

Sunday (February 2):  Now in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and off our cruise ship 

Our cruise ship arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina early Sunday morning from Montevideo, Uruguay and we disembarked from our ship.  Our cruise is now over.

The entrance to Buenos Aires was not especially photo worthy, as it is a container port.  And the large cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse disembarked 3420 people the same time our ship of 450 folks did the same.  Chaos reigned needless to say.  A photo might have been a good idea, too late now.  

We arrived at our small boutique hotel to learn it was a healthy one, hence the name Casa Calma.   We can check out yoga mats at the front desk and there is a hot tub in the room.   It is 90 degrees F outside, that doesn't invite me to indulge in the hot tub.  Our first mission was to convert US dollars into local currency and we were told to change dollars at a cambio (currency exchange place) which is contrary to the advice I’ve followed everywhere else in the world, but after my Ushuaia experience, the only option.  By the way, this is Argentina, known for the currency mercurial  movement.  Sunday the conversion rate was 58.5 (One US dollar = 58.5 Argentin Pesos), today it was 60.5.  Go  figure.  We are so lucky in the USA that our currency is stable.

Then to the Hop On Hop Off bus (You can get on at any stop and begin your tour). We hopped on and didn't really hop off until we were almost back to the hotel.  There was a roof on the bus so we couldn't see the tops of any of the buildings so no photos from this bus tour. We had heard the Argentinian Pizza was special, so we headed to the pizza restaurant El Cuartito "The Little Room" in English) to order a grande pizza made with provolone Santa Maria.   YUM.  See photo below.  El Cuartito is one of the oldest pizza restaurants in Buenos Aires.
Above:  Pizza made with provolone Santa Maria
The rest of the day was a nap, drinks and a light supper. 

Monday (February 3): 2nd day in Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Monday, was a much more interesting day than Sunday.  We took a taxi to the area in Buenos Aires called La Boca.  This was the first harbor in the city and the area in which the immigrants arrived.  Lots of history here, the interesting stuff to me was first the houses.  They look like the ones we saw in Valparaiso, Chile.   They were made from the scraps from the shipping container and boats, etc. and paints from there as well, so it is colorful.  La Boca’s revival began in the 1950s when local artist Benito Quinquela Martín started painting the old houses in bright colors, just like the immigrants did originally.

The rainbow colored houses are a beautiful sight and no doubt one of the most famous images of Buenos Aires, a huge tourist attraction.   See the following 3 photos.
Above:  Colorful houses

Above:  Colorful houses

Above:  Colorful houses
Since it was mostly the men that came first (before their families came), they built these houses with 16 x 16 ft. rooms, one kitchen and one bathroom. I'm not sure how many people per building, around 25-30 people.  When the families came, that number swelled by the size of the families. OY!   All sorts of other travail ensued including fires and floods. There were many nationalities in these crowded rooms/homes, 25 families not all speaking the same language nor eating the same foods, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom.   OY! squared.

Yerba mate (pronounced like mah-tay) is a tea/herb put in a gourd cup, hot but not boiling water is added and it is drunk with a metal straw with a strainer on the end.  It seems to be a popular drink in all the South America countries I’ve been to on this trip, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina.  The mate is commonly shared with others (as a symbol of hospitality and friendship), and a thermos of the hot water is added as needed.  It is supposed to be quite energizing (high caffeine I’m guessing).  I also saw people drinking it in La Boca but never got around to trying it.  Maybe I’ll try it in Brazil when we go there in a few days.   Below is a crop of a quickie iPhone photo I took on our La Boca walk Monday.
Above:  Two men sharing a mate
According to our guide Argentina has always had a passion for beef that dates back to the very beginnings of the country’s history, Because of the cattle, there was beef curing as well as leather tanning.  The guide didn't say it, but can you imagine how it smelled, probably worse than those penguins we saw on our Antarctic cruise.   Aggravating the situation, the wealthy families closed this harbor and built a new better one.  The result was the harbor became polluted.  Two years ago an environmental artist built an island in the middle of the harbor out of plastic bottles, today it looks verdant which shows that even in pollution, nature can flourish.  See the following 2 photos.  Notice the birds on the second photo.
Above:  Island out of plastic bottles

Above:  Island out of plastic bottles
Local artist Benito Quinquela Martín not only revived the colorful houses built by the original immigrants, he also built several buildings including a lactarium where nursing mothers could go donate their milk to children who's mothers couldn't feed them for any reason.  The building looks like a ship, notice the figurehead at the "bow of ship" on the following photo.
Above:  Lactarium
After walking down the back of the colorful houses we noticed there were no doors.  The walkway used to be the railroad that delivered the leather and meat, and later grains from the warehouses that you can see in the panorama photo of the harbor.  When that activity ceased, Martin had the rails removed and cobblestones installed.

As we walked through the neighborhood we came upon the square with the mural Republica de La Boca, see photo below.  We were told that in the 1880’s the La Boca area seceded from Argentina and was briefly (for 74 hours) declared the independent Republica de La Boca.   The people involved in this movement wrote to the King of Italy instead of writing to the President of Argentina.  They were mostly from Genoa another seaport town.  They wanted to secede in order to reorganize and get better pay and benefits. The mural is part of the history.
Above:  Republica de La Boca

We then continued our walk to the Boca Junior Futbol Stadium (see following photo).  The kids (15 years old) that started this team went on to play many places and the team is the most successful team of Argentina, having won 68 official titles to date.  We didn't take the tour of the stadium or the museum, but I think it's pretty cool that these kids efforts were eventually able to build this 50,000 seat stadium.  This stadium is very narrow and tall and was designed by an earthquake architect.  They say when the fans get excited and start jumping up and down, the stadium trembles.  But they say it's just the heart beat. 
Above:  Boca Junior Futbol Stadium
Below is a close-up photo of the badge on the outside of the stadium (you can see part of the badge in the above photo).  CABJ stands for Club Atlético Boca Juniors (Boca Juniors Athletic Club).  The badge will eventually have 68 stars as they add a star for each Primera División title won.  This badge on the stadium shows only 50 stars,
Above:  Badge on outside of the stadium
I also took a photo of the Nicolás Avellaneda transporter bridge, it is the only one of its kind conserved anywhere in the Americas, and one of the two bridges crossing the mouth of the Riachuelo River.  See photo below.
Above:  Nicolás Avellaneda transporter bridge
We later went to the Rocoleta Cemetery Monday.  We were told that we wouldn't be able to find Evita’s (world-famous former first lady of Argentina) tomb unless we looked for Eva Duarte (born María Eva Duarte).  By Recoleta standards, her tomb was quite nondescript, but there were a lot of people there to see it.  See the following 3 photos from the cemetery.

Above:  Evita's tomb

Above:  Evita's tomb

Above:  Another interesting grave site, woman lights a menorah with 7 candles (not the traditional 9)
The cemetery had so much history in it.  We kept trying to figure out what nationality many of the names were since so many immigrants had come to Argentina. It would have been a good thing to take a tour but it was 90 degrees F and we had done the La Boca walking tour earlier, so there wasn't enough mojo left to do a tour of the cemetery.  If we hadn’t decided to go to La Tigre the next day (Tuesday), we might have taken a tour of the cemetery Monday. 

Some background on Evita’s burial from the Internet.  “Three years after former First Lady Perón died of cancer in 1952, her body was removed by the Argentine military in the wake of a coup that deposed her husband, President Juan Perón. The body then went on a transatlantic odyssey for nearly twenty years before finally being returned to the Duarte family mausoleum in Recoleta Cemetery. She now lies in a crypt five meters underground, heavily fortified to ensure that no one can disturb the remains of Argentina’s most beloved and controversial First Lady.

Evita was born in 1919 and died in 1952, only 33 years of age, it has been said that “Evita was a rock star as a politician's wife.

On a different topic, I’ve learned that both Argentina and Uruguay claim to be the birthplace of the tango (the dance).  In Uruguay they say the first tango song was written in the basement of the Bellas Artes building in the Square.  In Argentina, they say the immigrants in La Boca would get together to play the instruments from their varied countries and the music evolved from there.  The dance was the young men from the better neighborhoods coming to La Boca to visit the ladies of the night, hence all the sexy clothes and moves.

Monday night we went to an empanada making class at The Argentine Experience, located in Palermo Hollywood one of Buenos Aires's best neighborhoods.  It was fun but not so challenging, we just learned how to take the filling and roll the pastry dough (no cooking).  They served us MEAT for dinner, along with plenty of wine.  In Argentina MEAT stands for beef (the very best grade gaucho-raised beef available in Argentina they said).  All the instructions were pretty much done as stand up comedy so it was pretty funny.  They have a big sense of humor there.   Below are a couple of photos from that night.  As you can see we were all given lovely black chef's hats to wear.
Above:  Empanada making class at The Argentine Experience

Above:  Empanada making class at The Argentine Experience

Tuesday (February 4th): The town of Tigre, Argentina, a boat tour

Tuesday we walked to the train station (which is more like a light rail) and paid our 85 pesos for a 50-mile trip to the town of Tigre, a northern suburb of Buenos Aires, the trip took about an hour.  The area is known for its delta of hundreds of tiny islands and waterways as well as its large artisan market. The town is named for the tigres (jaguars) that used to roam there.  

The area is now home to several boat companies that will take you on a tour of the surrounding delta and wildlife, so we signed up for a tour that lasted about an hour and a half.   There wasn't much narration on the tour, but what was said was interesting.   Along the way we saw many rusted out boat hulls, many had trees growing out of them.   There were lots of houses with docks as there are no bridges among the islands and the main land.  Everything is done by boat.

Here are a few examples.  Children and teachers go to and from school in speed boats; people have wire baskets on their docks for their trash and a boat comes by to pick it up.  There is a boat supermarket, so folks put out a flag or something that says they need to shop; and there is a floating infirmary that has doctors, nurses, dentists, pediatricians. We learned that some folks commute into Buenos Aires for work on boats.   It was 90+ F degrees Tuesday and my iPhone said “Feels like 106," and it did with the humidity.  That is probably why there were so many people in the river swimming or hanging out.   But not us, we were sweating. 

Below are a couple of photos from our visit to the town of Tigre, Argentina.

Above:  Boat tour in Tigre

Above:  Boat tour in Tigre
Wednesday (February 5th): in Brazil, Iguazú Falls

Wednesday we flew from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Brazil to see the Iguazú Falls.  There are two ways to tour the Iguazú Falls: the Brazilian side or the Argentinean side, we did the Brazilian side.

The Iguazú Falls is made up of up to of 275 waterfalls depending on the season.  The falls have been described as “a truly magnificent display of nature,” "size and scale are unlike any other waterfall on Earth, “ “a monster,” "nearly twice as tall as Niagara Falls and three times wider,” etc.

Not only is Iguazú Falls much larger than Niagara Falls, it’s surrounded by jungle where Niagara Falls is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, casinos, etc.

I have only a few photos to post at this time.  The 1st photo below is yours truly photographing one small section of the falls,  The 2nd & 3rd photos show something I've always wanted to do, ...photograph a rainbow at a falls, and that made me very happy.
Above:  Diane photographing one section of Iguazú Falls

Above:  Falls with rainbow

Above:  Falls with rainbow
Thursday (February 6th) at Iguazú Falls (still Brazil side)

We stayed at a fancy hotel in the National Park, the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas (Belmond Hotel of the Falls in Portugese).  Portuguese is the official language of Brazil  The hotel is surrounded by rainforest and overlooks Iguazú Falls.  To go anywhere we had to take a shuttle bus for about 7 miles.  The speed limit was so tightly controlled the drivers used park gps coordinates that tracked where they were and how fast they were going. If they went over the speed limits. Sometimes 40 kph (about 25 mph) and sometime 50 kph (about 31 mph) they lost their driving in the park privileges. 1st offense is 2 months, 2nd offense FOREVER!  OY!  Needless too say my lead foot itched the whole trip.

On with Thursday's adventure, we took the shuttle bus to the park and took a 10 minute helicopter ride over the falls. The view of the falls from the helicopter was stunning and I’ll send those photos later.

After the helicopter ride we then went to the Bird Park (Parque Das Aves in Portugese), a 12-acre sanctuary. This place is working to save endangered species and has some amazing birds.  Attached is a photo of one of the birds, a Scarlet Ibis, stretching its wings.
Above:  Scarlet Ibis
The macaws were also gorgeous, and noisy.  The next photo is a New York Dibis, also stretching its wings.
Above:  Diane at the Bird Park
After the bird park we took a boat ride INTO the Iguazú Falls!   Yes INTO, not under.  We were soaked to the underwear.  The water fell on us so fast and hard I couldn’t take out my camera or my phone to make any photos.  I have some photos of the white water to get to the plunge point on my Panasonic ZS70 camera which I will access later.  

Friday (February 7th): Argentina side of Iguazú Falls, fly to São Paulo, Brazil 

Today was our last day at the Iguazú Falls we left the hotel early and went to the Argentina side of the falls.  The purpose was to see a new and completely different view of the falls.  The Argentinian side also has a train system that allows for easy transport to different viewing points of the falls.  See the following photo of yours truly standing near the train engine.
Above:  Diane taking control of the train

It was an hour's ride going through immigration each way.  We were right on top of the Iguazú Falls in Argentina, though less wet than being in them like in Brazil, and also more crowded. We had to wait our turn to get to the railing to take photos.  The next photo I took of the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) from the railing. Devil’s Throat is probably the star of Iguazu Falls, at least the tallest of Iguazu’s 275 waterfalls.
Above:  Devil’s Throat

The following photo shows a guy with an umbrella.  I guess he was an “official” photographer?  We think these guys had signs made, grabbed their ladders and some rope and sectioned off the best spot to take photos of tourists. I think they emailed the photos instead of printing them.  It was a mile walk to the Devil’s Throat.
Above:  Local photographer taking photos of tourists

The next photo shows other tourists lined up to view the falls.
Above:  Tourists lined up to view the falls

The walk began with a very crowded slow train ride.  We could only use sign language to talk to our now nearly intimate fellow passengers.  Lots to see people-wise in the path.  One man took bread chunks and when he got to a resting spot put the bread on his cap and the birds would fly down and pick it up.  His grandson was scared but wanted to do it so finally got up enough courage and squealed with delight when the bird came.  (My plans are to post that photo later.) 

The coati (raccoons with long noses) have been every where but these small curious guys were at another rest stop, see the next photo.  Even though the signs said don’t pet or feed, they were considered only a suggestion.
Above:  Feeding a coati
 The following photo is yours truly.
Above:  Diane at Iguazú Falls
Also on the trail I noticed people with mate (the drink) cups and straws, but they had thermoses with cold water.  I could hear the ice cubes.  I finally sort of asked someone using bad Spanish (I don't know bad Portugese) and sign language if they were drinking mate.  No, it was Terere a similar drink as mate, but cold instead of hot.  And they let me taste it.  Yum.  I’m excited to try hot mate even more now. 

After touring the falls we took a flight Friday night from Iguazú Falls to São Paulo which turned out to be quite eventful.  We pulled away from the gate, but had to go back, security came and checked someone out.  The sandwiches they promised were two lousy cookies.  When we were approaching São Paola all was well but as we started to land, we took off again.  When we finally came around and landed again, at first they couldn’t get the jetway (the enclosed, movable connector which extends from the airport terminal gate to the airplane) closer than 10 feet away.  Everyone was crowded in the aisles, it was chaos! Finally they got the jetway to work, but then the overhead luggage compartment wouldn't open, so Scott and another man jerked it open; with plastic flying everywhere, my armrest fell apart. So much for LATAM Airlines.

Uber was waiting for us at São Paulo so that worked out great.  Our host Eduardo Trigo met us and we went to a fabulous village for an Italian dinner (at Famiglia Mancini) at just before midnight.  

Eduardo is Stephen Adler’s partner, Stephen is a friend who used to live a couple of blocks from me in NYC and now lives in Brazil.  I was going to visit Stephan but he was away on business.  I’ve known Eduardo for maybe 7 years as Stephen’s partner.  When Stephen discovered he would be away when we were there, Eduardo said to come anyway.  Eduardo was a great host!  See next photo for the three of us at dinner.
Above:  Dinner Friday night in São Paulo

Saturday (February 8th),  São Paulo, Brazil

Saturday night was a pre-carnival party held at the Cultural Samba School Real Dragons.  See the following 3 photos.  Each year São Paulo has a carnival called the "Carnival in São Paulo.”  This year it runs from February 21st to February 29th. 

Sunday (February 9th),  São Paulo

Sunday we got to watch a Capoeira demonstration in a park.  This form of combat started in Africa where they actually fought.  In Brazil they formalized it and it is no longer a fight.  It is a collaboration.  They still get belts like judo but it is an inclusive group exercise. Very interesting.  See the following photo.
Above:  Capoeira demonstration in a park

You know what they call McDonald's in São Paulo?  They call them Méqui (Mackies).  McDonalds is changing their name to reflect the local culture.  Kind of reminded me of the classic lines in the movie Pulp Fiction where Vincent says "You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?"  And Jules says "They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"  See the next photo.  The "1000" stands for "1000th McDonald's restaurant opened in Brazil."
Above:  Méqui (Mackies)
At a local bar Sunday I had my first caipirinha (national drink of Brazil) (see following 2 photos), it's made with Cachaça (a liquor made from sugarcane), sugar, and lime. The drink is fabulous!  Muito delicious!

The bar was a one story corner building near where we stayed.  I don’t know the name of the bar or if it had one.  Our host Eduardo wanted to have me order the drink at the upscale place we had lunch and I said NO.  I wanted to go to a local bar and have one like normal people.  I like upscale but also like normal.  So Eduardo indulged me (again, a great host!).  The bartender seemed pleased that the gringos wanted to come there, and we asked they shake the drinks. It was fun.  Below are a couple of photos taken by our host Eduardo with his iPhone 10.  Thanks Eduardo, great photos!  

Monday morning (February 10th), Back home in New York (Home Sweet Home!)

My flight left the São Paulo airport around 10:17 pm (São Paulo time, or 8:17 EST) Sunday night and arrived at the JFK gate around 6:42 am EST Monday morning.  So, about 11 hours on that airplane (including boarding time, etc.), an Airbus A333.  FlightAware says 10 hours 25 minutes flight time.

The attached screen shot from FlightAware shows the path of our flight.