Patagonia Day 5

Hi Everyone

How are you? It seems I have been away from the REAL world forever. Have not watched TV nor read a newspaper since Saturday. Oh well, life goes on. On my last blog, I made one spelling mistake that I have been previously corrected by both my beautiful wife and Andy. Moping is spelled MOPING and not MOPPING. Will try my best to remember that in the future since I know I will be using this word time and time again. 

The group was going out to shoot at 4:30. I set my cell alarm for 3:45 and woke up. My leg is still hurting me and my body was still playing the hurt symphony. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. The first photo shoot I have missed in seven workshops. I need to heal before Antartica. More on that later. 

Woke up at 7 AM all groggy and starry eyed. Went down to breakfast and met the group from the sunrise shoot. They were all concerned for me and I assured them that I needed to take a morning off. We then checked out and drove to the Gaucho Ranch. Andy, that great planner and thinker, arranged another more comprehensive photo shoot for us to be followed by lunch. The photo shoot was much better than the first one, since the gauchos now knew what we wanted and were prepared for us. They are not professional models and it took them, a while to get the hang off it. Got some great pictures of them on horseback and tending to some daily chores. Lunch consisted of a great piece of chicken with the fixings. 

It was now time to get back into the bus for a ninety minute drive to the town of “El Calafate”. El Calafate is located in Southern Patagonia on Lake Argentina. Lake Argentina has a turquoise color to it. There is a huge marshy area in the center of town where horses and birds graze. We checked into the hotel, had dinner and walked down to the promenade to shoot the horses and try to catch some bird action. I have taken pictures of birds before. Normally it involves being very patient and still until the bird decides to do something. There are photographers who specialize in this, but I do not see the attraction. Got some good images of the horses grazing in the marsh.

I want to start my description of what I will expect on the boat ride to Antartica. First, in order to get on a boat to Antartica, you need proof of medical evacuation insurance and medical insurance for the trip. so if you get hurt or sick, all transportation and medical care is covered and taken care of. 
Second, I am giving everyone a homework assignment. Please go to you tube and search for videos of the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is the body of water that separates the southern tip of Argentina from Antartica. It takes around one and one half days before you start to see land and disembark. The Drake Passage is where both the Atlantic and Pacific meet. The Passage has been labeled as the roughest sea crossing in the world. The conditions are hit or miss. You could have a great crossing over a sea that behaves like a large lake or be hit with tremendous waves and swirls. The conditions are hard to forecast or predict. The Passage has been named by others as “The Washing Machine”. I wonder why? Look at some of the videos of previous crossings. Third, the boats that go to Antartica are normally big passenger cruise boats. National Geographic boats carry over three hundred passengers to Antartica. An international consortium of countries govern the passenger boats carrying people. Some of the cruise ships do not even let anyone off for land excursions and those passengers just sit on deck and observe the wildlife and ice. Not for me. The international consortium tells the boats where to go that have land excursions. Those boats are limited to only taking 100 passengers on land per docking. So if you are a passenger on a three hundred passenger cruise ship that goes to Antartica, you are entered into a lottery to determine who goes off and who stays on each land excursion. Not for me. Our boat, in Andys wisdom, has only 78 passengers plus crew. That means that we ALL go off the boat for each land excursion. We are scheduled for at least two land excursions per day. How GREAT is Andy. He has tried his best to make this a life time experience for everyone. More on Antartica from Ushuaia. What is Ushuaia? It is the town on the lower east coast of Argentina where the boats wait for people to board them. The tourist season only lasts for three months, from the end of November to mid March. Last year thirty six thousand people visited Antartica either by observing it on deck and never getting off the boat or through minimal land excursions. Some passenger boats carry over two thousand passengers down and no one gets off the boat. Not us. What a way to see Antartica. All thanks to Andy and his great and thorough mind. 

Onto tomorrow first. Tomorrow is our glacier day. We are having breakfast at 6 AM and leaving at 6:30. We drive to a boat and take the boat to glaciers and ice fields. Most of the group will be taking a one hour walk on the ice fields with crampons attached to their boots. There is a restriction that if you are over 65, you cannot do this, but must observe the glaciers and ice fields from close range. I am sort of glad that I cannot do this activity. My leg is still sore and hurting and I would feel uneasy walking on the ice fields. I need to be better for Antartica. I have been promised that it is better to take pictures from where I will be since it would be difficult to take good images while you are walking on ice. Our local guide will remain with the old folks and I have been assured of great pictures. Our local guide, Cecilia, is also a photographer and she has been dead on throughout the trip. 

Speak to everyone tomorrow