Bon Voyage! We’re off to Antarctica!

Wherever you start your journey, a trip to the end of the Earth is never an easy one. Ushuaia, Argentina markets itself as the ‘end of the world’ – and given how long it takes to get here, you feel like you’ve traveled the Earth over. But this is just the launching point for what I think will feel like a trip to another planet.

I’ve spent the past week in Ushuaia. For part of that, I was sitting around at a cozy AirBnB with a bedroom view over the Beagle Channel. I watched the sky change from blue and grey as it spits hail or rain – to shades I associate with summer: peach and vermillion. Each day the sun circles to the north, then lights up the southern horizon in a slim line of pink during each short night.


Sunrise over the Beagle Channel

Through Christmas, I hovered over social media, watching messages fly in from my Homeward Bound sisters as they posted photos of family farewells, sad looking pets, and heavy bags – as they shuffled through airports around the world, enduring long-haul flights – so that we could all converge here in Ushuaia.

And, finally, two days ago, I got to meet all these women as we converged for two days of workshops to help us prepare for the trip, and think about why we are all here.

I had hoped to post more. I spent three days in Buenos Aires, and would love to share some photos. But I have limited time, and limited bandwidth. Also, three jet-lagged days was not enough time to do the city justice. I barely scratched the surface of what Buenos Aires has to offer. But, if you’ve read any of my other posts about cities, you know I’m not a city person. What I experienced was enough to take in some of the most famous sites and meet up with other early-arriving Homeward Bounders. I’ll pass through Buenos Aires again on my way home, and perhaps I’ll absorb enough of the city to share it with you in a post. (A few glimpses below!)

Ushuaia, with about 60,000 people, is much more my speed. I got to know the town center well enough over Christmas, and I can now tell you where to find the cheapest postcards, the best loose-leaf tea and croissants, and which crackers to buy at the supermarket. I experienced every sort of weather, from blustering winds, rain in multiple forms, hail, ice pellets, intense sunshine, and calm, gray skies. Once, I think that all happened in one day. Even this morning, I awoke to see a dusting of snow on the low peaks that circle the town.

I managed to do a few hikes: a walk along a series of beaver ponds with one of our AirBnB hosts who had me navigating through tall grasses, across beaver dams, over fallen logs, and across carpets of moss so thick your boot would sink deep in with each step.


This dog came with us on the hike, but was afraid to cross the log and wanted me to go back too.


Wildflowers on a hike outside of Ushuaia.

I also spent a day out at Tierra del Fuego National Park with some of our other early-arriving Homeward Bounders. This is a place dotted by lakes and mountains, with trails through shrubby forests of birch-like trees. It deserves a post on it’s own. But that’s not going to happen today.

And there was the hike up to the Glacier Martial: a bit over 3 kilometers in distance and about 1500 feet up from the parking lot to the very best views of Ushuaia and the Channel. In Ecuador I had to go up to 15,000-something feet to see a glacier. This one sits below 3000 feet elevation. (In a few days, I’ll be viewing glaciers at sea level.)


Trail up to the Martial Glacier

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View of Ushuaia from the Martial Glacier.

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My first Patagonian glacier!

All of these places deserve more of my attention. Ushuaia warrants a trip in itself. But my mind is already shifting onward as the excitement builds and we prepare to board our ship for Antarctica. The 80 participants and about 10 faculty in our group have spent the past two days recovering from jet lag and getting to know each other. We will spend the next 3 weeks together on this ship. The anticipation for this trip has built up over the past year, and we are ready!

Thanks to you all who have followed this journey so far. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! I will be back online in three weeks!

Find all the info about how to follow us in this post.

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