April 20, 2009
Got a fresh start this morning from a restful night at the Hotel Nogueria. Went for my morning jog and thought of my students coming back after spring break this morning as I passed all the school children dressed in their uniforms walking to school. I am sure there are a lot of tired students in Fairhope getting back into the schedule! After a great breakfast of pastries and fruit at the hotel, I made my way down to the AGUNSA office at the docks for my ECW appointment. I was issued my Carhart bibs, raingear, polypropylene gloves (Kristin instructed me to get extra for the fish dissections that we will be doing), flannel shirts, balaclava, fleece neck gator and hat, leather gloves, steel toe sea boots, Sorrel boots (cold weather boots), fleece jacket and pants, mittens with liners, vests, long underwear and the coolest item, the jacket shell that has the Antarctic Mission patches on it! Very official and indicates I am on the "team." I could not in my wildest dreams have imagined this moment could actually be a reality! So exciting!
I was also able to call home from the AGUNSA office and check in with my mom. She was very glad to hear from me and asked if the mountains coming into Santiago were as beautiful as she described them to me days before. I assured her they were and described Punta Arenas to her. My parents actually lived in Santiago, Chile for the first two years of their marriage and she returned two years ago with my sister who was born there to share it with her 13-year-old daughter, my niece, Caroline. I explained how the town of Punta Arenas (translated to "point of sand" in English) was much larger than I had envisioned.
After checking some emails at the AGUNSA office, I walked the four blocks back to the hotel and gathered my Spanish-English Dictionary to order lunch with some knowledge of the type of meal I was ordering. I made my way to Lomit's a place recommended for lunch. They had barbeque sandwiches (very "homey" feeling), but I of course, being the "flexitarian" that I am (not completely vegetarian because I consume fish and seafood) ordered a tomato and queso sandwich. It was great. I met up with a group of the scientists from Duke University and continued to a coffee house for a great cup of cappuccino. It was interesting to learn about their marine offices located in Beaufort about an hour north of the university and the types of facilities at their campus. Definitely something to share with my students as a potential place to consider for college studies! They also described our upcoming travels on the ship, as many had been studying here in Antarctica before. One scientist gave advice for another first timer, Remy, who was concerned about seasickness to maintain a good attitude with excitement and to hang out on deck during our departure. I described how I would not have a problem with the "excitement" factor because I was even excited when I stepped out of the airport in Punta Arenas!
Went back to the ship for room assignments and to move my luggage into my room. I am rooming with Irina and we made our way up the two narrow flights of stairs to our room, 203. Getting to know Irina is incredible because we have two major commonalities - she is a flexitarian AND Svalbard! She is from Germany and actually studied there and lived in Longyearbyen for an entire year in 2004-2005. I was there in 2007 for my first ARMADA experience (check out my journals!) and it is so neat to discuss the area knowingly and find out what it was like living there for an entire year. She is also able to compare it to her current experience in Fairbanks, as she is doing her graduate work with Kristin at the university on the icefish.
We spent the couple of hours remaining in the day shopping for souvenirs and admiring the beautiful, wool (from llamas) sweaters handmade in Chile. I also noted a lot of beautiful blue lapis jewelry and hand carved penguins from the stone. A storekeeper pointed out that there are only two places in the world that this blue lapis is found, Afghanistan and Chile. After shopping, we went to dinner at a fabulous, Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us - Broccolini. Wow, was it great - I had a nicoise salad and a bowl of some of the most incredible soup to ever cross my lips - it was a cream-based soup with almonds, artichoke pieces and scallops. A great ending to a great day!