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March 2007 Archives

March 1, 2007

...and we're off!

as i mentioned in my last blog post, i'm starting tomorrow morning on my great antarctic adventure!

the ship doesn't actually leave until the evening, so we meet in the morning to go on a tour of the Tierra del Fuego National Park and have an Argentine-style asado (barbeque) lunch, eventually boarding the vessel around 4-5pm.

and then it's off for 11 days of adventure, lectures, food, drink, hopefully lots of zodiac landings, icebergs, and penguins! once i return, photos and backdated blog entries to follow as quickly as i can get them written and posted! (there is no internet access on the ship)

have a great few weeks, and i'll talk to ya'll when i return! oh, and happy first day of the international polar year!

March 2, 2007

leaving for antarctica

Beagle Channel

It's my first evening on board the Orlova. The sea is calm, the evening was beautiful and low-wind when viewed from the bow of the ship, and I watched the land (islands?) roll by as a fellow passengers related the history of Tierra Del Fuego, conjuring up the images of the native Fuegians coated in a glistening layer of seal oil, lighting fires from on top of the mountains when they were first sighted by Magellan.

This morning started in my Ushuaia hostel with a packing panic, as I shrunk my backpack by putting all nonessentials into a large plastic bag and storing it at the hostel for my return. I then went down to the Albatross Hotel to catch the briefing by the Quark staff (where I realized that my ship is Quark's last sailing to Antarctica this season!), and hopped on the bus for the must forgettable tour (at least it was well-organized, but quite sterile) that i've taken on this trip.

After our tour was completed, we had a few hours to "explore Ushuaia" (ie. go to the internet cafe and surf the web for a while), then we headed down to the Antarctic termial for the briefest of customs inspections (since our ship wasn't visiting Chile or any other countries, and Antarctica isn't a country of its own, we were technically staying in Argentina the entire time), and finally hopped on board the Orlova to head out through the Beagle Channel, escorted by a "pilot boat" for some historical and probably-quite-obselete reason until we made it out of the channel.

March 4, 2007

surviving the drake passage

"It’s unpleasantly like being drunk."
"What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?"
"You ask a glass of water."

- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Drake Passage

Passengers are still stagering through the halls and stairwells as the winds pick up or fall off as conditions change. Luckily we should be out of the Drake Passage tomorrow and should be at Deception Island at last!

I just finished attending a great lecture of early Antarctic history from our ship's historian, John, and while my near-indefeatable Dutch roommate has headed up to the top deck for a Bird ID session, i'm headed downstairs for the first nap of the day at 10:30am. Whether it's the constant rocking of the boat, the anti-seasickness medication i've been taking, or just a desire to avoid having to sit around and feel the constant rocking of the ship, i've been taking a lot of naps lately. Judging from the lackluster attendance in the dining room at mealtimes, i'd say a fair amout of passengers are doing the same thing.

March 20, 2007

the last day of my trip

"Have you thought you might should be in California?"
- Iron & Wine, California

dear readers, today is officially the last day of my trip!

i've been a few weeks behind in my blog posts (when i get home i'll add more detail about my trip to antarctica and the highlights of buenos aires, as well as finally write those Hungary, Jordan, and Oman blog posts), so i'll quickly bring you up to date: since i was feeling ready to return home at last, i updated my itinerary to shave a few weeks off of my previous trip plan, and decided that my last day would be march 20. so tomorrow i'm up at 4am (for the second day this week) to get to the airport and catch my Delta flight to LAX.

i arrived in antigua via a $10 shuttle minivan from the airport at around 9pm, and checked into the Black Cat Hostel, which i'd found after doing a bunch of searching online for a good hostel in antigua (they're too new to be in the current lonely planet). this is definitely one of the best hostels i've stayed at in latin america, and far better than the somewhat run-down lime house hostel in buenos aires (they win the award of worst hostel breakfast in the world! come on guys, at least empty your coffee pot of yesterday's old coffee before making today's coffee in it). after slugging down a few beers at the bar in the light of the jar candles arranged along the wall, i headed out with several other people from the hostel to hit some of the other bars in antigua.

after getting up and enjoying the delicious french toast for breakfast here, the coffee cleared my mind enough to notice that it's a beautiful sunny day here in antigua, guatemala, with only a few white streaks of clouds in the sky. the city itself is a fantastic place, reminding me a lot of the time i spent in cuzco, and i'm looking forward to posting a lot of the photos i've taken today. culturally, it's been really interesting to move from the southernmost city (mas o menos!) in south america up into central america, and then to los angeles to see a little bit of the origin and evolution of the latin american influences in LA.

do i have any regrets about my trip ending tomorrow morning? suprisingly, not many! it's been a fantastic journey over the last 12.5 months, but i really feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life, and i will treasure having my own bedroom to sleep in, and not having to live out of a backpack every day.

in other words, i'm ready for California and home at long last. and this trip has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

March 28, 2007

what's it like to be back?

It's only been a week,
The rush of being home in rapid fading.
Prevailing to recall
What I was missing all that time...
- "Remind Me", Melody A.M., Röyksopp

I've been home now for a week and it's all moving slower and faster than I expected.

i'm still the subtly exotic creature at parties, pointed out by the hosts when i invariably fail to mention what i've been up to the last 13 months, somewhat akin to having people notice a rather ordinary-looking pet cat in the corner, and having one of the hosts point out that "Oh, while he might look a lot like the average tabby, he's actually a bengal cat!" (which by the way, does cost more than the total amount i spent on my around-the-world trip.)

i have to admit, it's been nice to have people ask "and when did you end this trip around the world?", and being able to answer "two days ago." or "wednesday."

i've been busy curating the photos, videos, and sound files i recorded on the trip. even with all the deletions of blurry/bad photos when i was taking them, i still have roughly EIGHT THOUSAND media files from my trip that need to be sorted out. i've managed to at least wrangle them into folders for each country, in addition to making the reduced set that someone might actually be able to sit through seeing. it's simply amazing to remember what i did this past year -- tropical beaches and reefs on fiji, hungarian folk music in budapest, tiny siberian train stations on the trans-mongolian train, and so forth. the video and audio files really add a lot of color to the photos -- i'm glad that digital cameras have all these wonderful extra capabilities.

but it's a hell of a time, actually. being able to start from scratch on a number of frontiers gives me a lot of room to redefine myself. while of course i'm still the same guy as ever, it's great to be able to start with answering questions like "where is my ideal place to live?", "what's my ideal workplace?", and go from there. (plus thinking about a couple of ideas for cool internet products. more on that later.)

plus i replaced the power supply in my homebrew computer, and as a quick sidenote to my geek pals: if your computer is having an inexplicable problem that is hard to replicate, it's probably the power supply that's at fault. go and get a good power supply tester and try connecting the leads of your computer's power supply to it. in my case, it turned out that my +5v lead was oscillating between 4.5v and 5.9v and causing havoc with Windows as a result. Oh, and if you have an Antec power supply (like i did before i replaced it with a more reliable one yesterday), my warnings go double for you. I'll never buy another Antec PSU again -- I purchased an Enermax Liberty for my new power supply, and things are now running swimmingly.

About March 2007

This page contains all entries posted to gone living in March 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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