Thursday, November 18—8:06 PM
It takes courage to travel alone—without an “other” or a partner or a sister (come ON, Lexie and Twig! Step up for your widowed sister!) to be a team with. I sat down to dinner tonight (served in the bistro instead of the dining room—which is prone to startling leaps into the air as it is in the bow) at the only empty seat, and found myself with people who did NOT appreciate me beginning the conversation with a frank “I’m ready to get off this ship, huh?”
It went downhill from there. The scent of cooked fish upset one of them; I’d ordered the fish. They discussed the process of using a sous vide; as an unapologetic non-chef, I had nothing to contribute to the conversation which was lucky since they did not address me at any point on the topic. My attempt to re-engage (“have you chosen the five to seven photos you’re going to include in the guest slide show tomorrow?” to which the answer was a flat “Yes.”) failed like a cold spoon in the soufflé.
I ate my first course and main course and made an excuse to flee. “Be sure to mention us tonight in your blog,” one said archly, making sure I knew their names (as if we hadn’t met before). “Oh, I got you on that!” And then I went tripping gracelessly past my fellow travelers, taking the occasional quick-step to catch up with the roll of the ship. Grateful to have escaped, angry at my lack of posse, lonely, awkward, frustrated by the endurance challenge that lies ahead to get home.
Oh, dear. I think I have not behaved very well. Now I’m in my cabin playing Pitbull and Shakira because that is SO inappropriate on this journey. I’m packing. We still have another full day on the ship (we don’t leave until after breakfast the day after tomorrow), but I like the sight of the slowly-filling suitcase.
AND MY LIPS ARE BLISTERING.
Shit. That’s a party. One brief exposure to Antarctic sun reflecting off Antarctic mirror-still waters and suddenly my mouth hurts. And isn’t that a fun experience?? I keep waiting for the sting to fade; instead blisters are rising. Pretty soon it’s going to be a benefit to society that I will need to remain masked on the plane.
Eighteen days is too long to be on a guided journey—especially one on a ship, where you can’t hold up a finger as if you just thought of something, say “Oh, I’ll be right back…,” and then go home. And somehow I’m convinced that as soon as I get home, my lips will stop hurting. Because that’s a situation that belongs on this SHIP, see?? Don’t argue with me; I’m fussy. You’ll draw back a bloody stump.
Ahh—Ozomatli. That makes things better. Not enough music on this journey. This was a fun blog, huh?? Okay—here’s a sop to your interests: The thickest ice on Antarctica is 15,600 feet deep. Across the continent, the weight of the ice has pushed the bedrock down by an average of 600 feet. If the ice suddenly vanished, we’d see that the entire continent tips inward, away from the sea.
Cool, huh? That information brought to you by charming Scottish Rachel, who not only corrected my belief that the Nat Geo atlas in my cabin didn’t have an Antarctica page, but who actually knew which page that map was on. I spent a pleasurable moment today between naps reading facts about the continent I’d just left. I could wish that the programs I’d been attending for the last 16 days had focused less on bold explorers who ate their dogs and more on the natural history of the place…but that’s probably just because I’m grumpy tonight.