You know that feeling when you arrive at a foreign airport and pull out the SIM card you’ve purchased for your international travels, and you discover that you don’t have a good way to pop open your phone’s SIM card tray? So you curl up in a corner and cycle through paperclips, earring hooks, pen tips, safety pins, and a variety of other improvised tools until you finally force it open?
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Argentina & Antarctica
Today we continue my What I Did On My Winter/Summer Vacation essay, moving south to Cape Horn.
I’ve known about Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos) for years, the Age of Exploration and how deadly the transit was at the bottom of the world. I’ve read about it so much and always in such a historical context that it was nearly mythical.
And to be fair, it is a place of near legend. One of the, or possibly the, most dangerous ship passages on the planet, the Cape experiences gale force winds nearly 30% of the time in winter, with drifting icebergs and steep waves — including frequent rogue waves of up to 100 feet (30 meters). Winds rushing unchecked across the whole of the Pacific are funneled into the Drake Passage by the Antarctic peninsula and the Andes mountains, just as the massive waves they create come into a shallower stretch of ocean and grow steeper.
At least 800 ships have died here, with over 10,000 mariners. This place did not get its reputation lightly. The Spanish, rather than shipping their gold back to Europe around the Horn, opted instead to carry their extremely heavy loot across the continent through hostile territory, thinking it less difficult and risky.
To be honest, they had me right from the beginning, when their first example of food in literature was Mercédès offering Muscat grapes to the Count in The Count of Monte Cristo. I mean, that’s a good scene, dripping with text and subtext, and you’re going to add chocolate? I’m in.
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Argentina & Antarctica
I’m sorry this post has been long in coming — for some reason the paying jobs had to take priority over the blog, silly but true — but I hope it’s worth the wait!
For decades, I’ve spoken of Antarctica as the crazy dream destination, exotic and fascinating and unlike anything else you can just hop in a car or plane and go to visit. In 2009, the Antarctic Treaty signatories agreed to update restrictions on tourism — a concept I understand and endorse, because we’ve seen what unchecked and unregulated tourists can do to places less fragile than Antarctica, and yet I decided that if I were going to go, I should do it.
Last night I told my husband I was interested in seeing the new Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, about which I’d heard good things. I didn’t know much of the plot, but the teaser trailers had the right mood. The problem was, I said, that it was ten episodes and I was way too busy, behind on lots of things because of my Antarctica trip and in general, to start a series. (I don’t watch a lot of television at all anyway.) I was still working up until ten p.m., when I decided to forcibly reschedule my remaining to-do task and take a break.
So at ten last night Jon and I decided to try The Umbrella Academy. But just one episode. “Two is my absolute limit,” said Jon, who also had some extra commitments to take care of today.
And that is how we went to bed after seven this morning, while the light rose palely through the bare winter trees and the birds sang and the sleepy dogs wondered why we would change locations after spending the night on the couch.