2009 Expedition Archives
Friday, February 13
Santiago, Chile - 6:45 AM
Posted by Geoff Green, Expedition Leader
Our overnight LAN Airlines flight was a smooth one and we just arrived to Santiago, Chile! We have just landed. In about one hour we make the short flight over the Andes (from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean) en route to Buenos Aires! All Photo: Lee Narraway, Students on Iceis well. One thing we have talked to the students about so far is how they should really be aware of their sense of place during this expedition. Even in the first 24 hours, many of them have already travelled over North America, across the Caribbean, the Amazon, the Andes, and are now half way down South America.
We have about half of our group of students and staff together now, and we will pick up more over the next three days, as we get to Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, Argentina. It is great to be getting to know everyone and learning about each other's motivations for joining this historic, inaugural Students on Ice University Antarctic Expedition!
Despite being a sleepy group this morning, the excitement builds and is unshakable.
The sun is shining bright and warm this morning in Santiago. 40 degrees Celsius!! It was so amazing to catch glimpses of the spectacular coastline and mountains of Chile as we arrived. I have seen it many times before but it never stops amazing me. I can only try and imagine the experience these students are having seeing all this for the first time. The senses of Awe and Wonder are two things that will be constant factors over the next few weeks. These of course are part of the special ingredients that go into the inspirational soup Mother Nature will be serving us on this incredible journey to Antarctica...
We all look forward to sharing it with you. Stay tuned. Got to run!
The Toronto contingent has arrived safely to Buenos Aires joining a number of international participants. The team will spend the day in this vibrant port city, seeing the sights, and getting to know each other. Tonight the group will have dinner together in one of the many excellent local restaurants, with a menu including a diverse selection of Argentina's finest foods. Early morning departures mean early curfew, but the students will be enjoying the ambiance of Argentina.
Journal Entry by Jodie King, Student Participant
The flight from NYC to Santiago was VERY long. It felt like forever, but was only 11 hours! The food was really good. There was beef and mashed potatoes for dinner, and eggs and hash browns for breakfast. We were only in the Santiago airport for about 5 minutes before we had to board our next flight to Buenos Aires! This one was really cool because we flew over the Andes Mountains. I got some great pictures! You can really see how glaciation has affected the area, and even though most of the snow is gone from the tops since its summer here right now, the very high ones still had a bit.
We arrived in Buenos Aires at about 3:30pm local time (which is 11:30am in North Bay). It took a while to get all the luggage gathered, get through customs, and get one the buses to bring us to the hotel. The hotel is right downtown Buenos Aires, so that is pretty exciting to see. There is a main street that has 22 lanes of traffic on each side!!! Also, people were randomly pulling off on the side of the highway onto the grass to just sit and chill in the shade under trees. Very strange! One additional thing, in the bathroom at the hotel, the shower doesn’t have a shower curtain. The water just kind of sprays everywhere! My roommate here is Marianne; she is from Quebec and goes to Laval. I don’t know if we will be keeping the same roommates the whole time, or if each time we stop it will be different so that we can get to know other people.
So this afternoon we did a walking tour of Buenos Aires. It was 30 degrees here, so we were all in tank-tops and shorts! We saw the government buildings, a church, and then rode the old wooden subway! Our guide taught us a lot of history of the region, and then walked us through the main shopping way (didn’t buy anything though).
Dinner was at a great little restaurant. We had funny little appetizers, things like cheese, something like shepherd’s pie, and sausage. Then for supper an inch thick steak and fries, with ice cream for dessert. It was awesome!! However, it is now very late, and we have to get up at 3:30am in order to get to the airport in time for our flight to Ushuaia tomorrow morning. So bedtime it is!
Blog entry posted by Canada AM co-host Seamus O'Regan
Well, at least this time I don't have to pack a bullet-proof helmet ... For those who followed my blog when I travelled to Afghanistan, this trip to Antarctica should be decidedly different!
To backtrack -- some months ago, I was asked by my friend Geoff Green, the founder of Students on Ice, if I wanted to travel to Antarctica with him and a team of scientists and university students from across Canada and around the world. It was an amazing opportunity, impossible to pass up.
Students on Ice is an Ottawa-based educational organization that brings students, educators and scientists together to both the North and South Pole regions to learn more about the planet and, particularly the effects of climate change. I knew that Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire had traveled with him through the Arctic back in 2005, and had been raving about it since.
This trip, obviously, takes me in the opposite direction -- an 11-hour flight from Toronto to Buenos Aires, overnighting there before a 3 ½ flight to Ushuaia (it's on the southernmost tip of Argentina), another night's stay on land, and then the two-day sea voyage to the maritime edge of the South Pole. For the next two weeks, the ship is our base and our home.
So, here I'm staring blankly at a mound of clothes. I need sandals and sunscreen for Buenos Aires (where it's their summer), winter wear and trekking gear for the on-land Antarctic excursions, enough leisure clothes for the almost two weeks on the boat (with limited washing facilities, I'm sure), and, then, the part on the official list that I hadn't counted on -- waterproof gear for disembarking and embarking on the Zodiac boats.
It was with a heavy heart this morning that I had to admit to Jeff Hutcheson (the most scrupulous packer I have ever seen) that I had to check in a bag. He looked at me with utter disdain. I felt great shame, but there's no way around it.
I'm looking forward to sharing this experience with you over the next couple of weeks. To whet your appetite, enjoy this video that Jeff found for me -- search for "one lucky penguin" in Youtube. Frankly, I have no idea if it's even Antarctica, but it involves ice, people, a Zodiac, a pod of orca and one lucky penguin!
Journal Entry by Jason Copeland, Humber College Lakeshore Campus
We arrive in Chile. By now I am privilege to a select group of like-minded individuals. I have never met more people in a single day that I could honestly say I would regret not having as friends. I feel at home here and in the warm Chilean air I feel as if the whole world is embracing me, embracing us and our craving to understand.
We are the future. We are the proof that change exists.
Once more we take to the sky.
Buenos Aires. Capital of Argentina.
The arrival in Buenos Aires is smooth. I sleep through it and had it not been for the necessary task of getting off, it would have gone by without notice.
There is energy in the air here.
This will be our first stop and overnight stay. The luggage is unloaded from the plane en masse and successfully collected by its owners. One armada of carts later and we had ourselves a convoy.
As efficiently as possible we crashed the gates, our 48. (Literally, two of the girls took a door right off its hinges with one of the massive carts.)
Side Note: Women seem to pack too much.
Exiting triumphantly into the spectacular warmth and sunlight of Buenos Aires our convoy reached its destination.
The bags and people were separated and loaded into suitable forms of transit specific to each species. For the people there was a spectacular tour bus, available only until the stroke of midnight, lest it turn back into a pumpkin, or a patch of them. (I can’t recall the specifics.)
The bags were privilege to what can only be described as a mixture of scuttled ship’s wood and truck.
The streets to the hotel exploded like the 9th of July, a massive 23 lane stream of cars where road markers were more of a guideline than a rule.
The hotel itself was spectacular. Once we had arrived the bags were unloaded and the people flocked to their rooms. Four flights of triangular stairs later my wings gave out just as I crossed the threshold of my new residence. The weight of my bag had been crippling and collapse inevitable. I crawled into the bathroom and, clearly dazed, was confronted by not one, but two toilets. Nay. One toilet, one half-breed. Some twisted cross between toilet and sink. I examined the strange contraption. The first knob turn yielded no noticeable response. With the second, the sound of running water could be heard, I inspected the grated hole at the bottom for signs of movement as I twisted the third.
The bidet had awakened, like a trapdoor spider lying in wait, it struck suddenly and I found myself at its mercy. My eyes laden with its venom spit, I lay helplessly on the floor, blinded.
The recovery was quick. The bidet is a stationary predator and fortunately I had fallen out of its range. The next hour was spent at a street-side café with some of my newfound friends and even more of our newfound beverages.
Beer. Cheap Beer.
I must stress that this beer was ridiculously cheap and entirely satisfying.
The recovery was quick.
The tour guide had returned now and seemed adamant on showing us around the city. I was on alert having been told pick-pockets were abundant in these parts. A sinister thought crossed my mind. I would fill my pockets with mouse traps, thus any finger found wandering would be quickly relieved of its confidence.
Thus the hunter would become the hunted.
Alas. No mousetraps were to be found.
The streets were filled with life and danger. The danger coming from the abundance of insane drivers that threatened the life. Like schools of fish they darted about in rapid motion following some great unseen order. The streets operated naturally, the large preying on the small, the smart staying alive.
I was nearly killed by a police car.
We were taken in great wooden crates down a spectacular underground passage; A subway that had seemingly escaped the passage of time with all the comforts of a classic western stagecoach. We were herded like cattle into a massive slaughterhouse. Here was a place where vegetables were sacrilegious. The shocked faces of many animals surprised by their own demise adorned the walls. I was relieved when I discovered they intended to feed us here and not add us to the collection.
The steak was delicious but my stomach was still accepting no large amounts of food, the food poisoning days earlier was still fresh in my mind and rotting in my stomach.
I was content to drink no less than six bottles of sprite. The bottles were glass, emerald tint. Sprite had never been sweeter.
I fed the beef to the vegetarians.
They loved it.
The rest of the night passed quickly. The TV spoke only Spanish but Arnold proved twice the hero for his role in Predator in which he barely speaks. His trek through unknown territory seemed strangely appropriate making his victory over his alien adversary that much sweeter.
I peeled myself off the wall and fell asleep content.
Journal Entry by Florian Hofmann and Lukas Sundermann
Um fünf Uhr morgens beginnt unsere Reise ans andere Ende der Welt. Gegen sieben Uhr kommen wir am verschneiten Flughafen in München an. Es ist wenig los und nachdem Eisi der Kuscheleisbär auf Sprengstoff untersucht wurde dürfen wir zügig zu unserem Gate. Das erste was uns in die Augen fällt sind Bildschirme die einen Flugzeugabsturz im Bundesstaat New York zeigen, der durch extreme Schneefälle bedingt war. Das macht Mut.
Die Atlantiküberquerung dauert elf Stunden und verläuft relativ unspektakulär, was jedoch nicht für das Drama der nächsten Stunden gelten sollte.
US-Immigration: Flo kommt ohne Probleme durch, Lukas nicht. Zumindest fast nicht. Keine Adresse in den USA, das grüne Einreiseformular I-94W nicht richtig ausgefüllt, kein Nachweis der Weiterreise vorzuzeigen (Flo hat es, Flo musste schon weiter). Nach bitten und betteln darf man doch passieren und endlich kann in Ruhe dem Fastfood gefrönt werden. Die Tickets sind 3 Stunden vorher abgeholt und wir vertreiben uns gemütlich die Zeit bis zum Abflug der für 18:40 geplant ist. Das boarding beginnt standardmäßig um 17:45. Die allermeisten sind schon im Flugzeug, während sich eine kleine Gruppe von etwa 10 Leuten zu fragen beginnt, was „seat request“ auf ihren Tickets zu bedeuten hat. Auf Fragen gibt es jedoch keine Antworten, man soll sich hinsetzten und darauf warten mit Namen aufgerufen zu werden. Um 18:25 werden einige Worte auf Spanisch gewechselt und vier Leute stürmen durch das Gate, welches sofort darauf geschlossen wird. Das Flugzeug hebt also ohne uns ab, der Anschlussflug ist dementsprechend nicht zu erreichen. Fluchend und schimpfend ziehen wir los zum Delta-Schalter. Diesen nehmen wir die nächsten 2,5 Stunden ein bis für uns ein Ausweichflug gefunden ist, um uns noch rechtzeitig vor Abfahrt des Schiffs nach Ushuaia zu bringen. Wir müssen über Nacht in Atlanta bleiben und am nächsten Tag über Lima und Buenos Aires nach Ushuaia fliegen. Mit einem Hotel voucher, 3 meal vouchers, einem Scheck über 800 Dollar, 3 Telefonkarten und einem night kit gehts also auf zum Red Roof Inn.
Students and Staff gather in front of Central Park Plaza before heading out to see the city!
The team cross the street in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A Student snaps a photo during a tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Students pose in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A view of the Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Students pose in front of a statue of an Argentine Bull
Students enjoy a break by a fountain in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Street vendors in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Geoff addresses the expedition team over dinner