Saturday, January 24, 2009


Catching up on a few Blog photos from the last few stops: 1) the sheep farm yard is a blend of shapes and earth colors -- one of my favorite images; 2) every night is a spectacular sunset aboard ship in the Atlantic; 3) a young spotted baby Burrowing Owl ... 4) and check out those talons! 5) The Penguin is a bird of a different color, feather, beak, and feet, all designed for different purposes. They say there are two kinds of penguins ... the white ones coming toward you, and the black ones going away from you. Ha.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Sailing all day and a nite, through some of the most trecherous and unforgiving waters on
earth, we enter Stanley Harbor on the eastern-most island of the Falklands. A pair of
dolphin greet us in front of shore batteries that protected the British from the attacking
Argentine junta in 1982. It was a brief but bloody war, costly on both sides, and for what?
A remote, barren and mostly gloomy rock, 8,000 miles from England, and 350 miles offshore from Argentina, which still lays claim to The Rocks, but lost the war. Life has changed for the remaining 3,500 British here ... good fishing, tourism andabout 240 sheep per inhabitant.

Outside the village of Port Stanley, however, life is a bit bleak -- children are schooled
by radio and phone calls, mail service connects to England once a month, and there are still about 17,000 land mines buried in the sand. (Which explains the text on a jeep at the pier, "Bomb Squad." We walked past an aging ship half sunk in the harbor, the "Jhelum" built in Liverpool in 1840, but condemned as unseaworthy in 1871 -- and now the most intact aged ship in the area (see photo).

Christ Church Anglican Cathedral was built in 1892 -- the southern most church in the world, with a huge set of Blue Whale jaw bones near the entrance (photo). While both the summers and winters are more temperate than you might expect this close to Antarctica, many home gardeners raise edibles and flora in their sunrooms or glass green houses using hydroponic techniques. And lest we minimize the importance of penguins for tourism, they are the larger King variety here (3.5 feet high) -- while the Magellans in Argentina were knee-high, and the man-size Emperor Penguins reside in Antarctica.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Located on the south-eastern coast of Argentina's famous Patagonia region, Puero Madryn is a relatively recent development, founded in the mid-1800's by the Welsh, although the first humans made it here 10,000 years ago, and dinosaurs roamed the area 250 million years ago. The city has a population of 60,000 -- although our tour encountered only a few dozen in the 100-degree heat of the bush country. We headed for the Valdes Peninsula by mini-bus, across 75 miles of dusty, rock-bed road., We enjoyed a sumputuous lunch at the San Lorenzo sheep farm -- with cheese, wine, olive and sausage starter, tender lamb, Empenada meat pastries, more wine, and a carmel flan to die for ... then we witnessed the breeding grounds of about 200,000 Magellen Penguins; hidden in nests under shrubs, or learning to swim and fish near the beaches that stretch to infinity. Down the road apiece was a separate colony of sea elephants -- measuring up to 20 feet long and three tons, which is a mere morsel for a 10-ton Orca Killer Whale. Then photographed a baby Burrowing Owl on a fencepost, saw a pair of Patagonian Cavy -- a rodent, which looks like a super-sized jack rabbit, and wild llama's roaming all over the bush, sometimes in battle for a mate (photo).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day #1 - Montevideo

Our first leg in this 2-week journey to South American is a loooong flight from Minnesota to Buenos Aires -- about 6000 miles, cramped in coach class, made tolerable by a movie and a few hours sleep in the 12 hour fight. Everything was delayed from departure to land transport ... But the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas sailed on time for Montevideo, Uraguay in calm seas at 9 pm.

Late to awake for breakfast ... Donna heads for a local wine tour, while I study the history and geography of the coastal towns in South America where we will visit ... soaking up some warm sun on the top deck. We'll visit the city center later ... Checking out the Kobi beef, leather goods and wines. The weather is in the "perfect zone" -- at 78+.

Below our balcony is a fuel ship topping off the oil for our day at sea tomorrow, while they bring on local foods and gifts. We hear the ocean seas here can be a little rough, so we're prepared with Bonine.

We meet interesting people -- less than 1/3 from the US, some Europeans, but mostly Latinos. A key part of these trips is enjoying the experiences, stories, culture and ethnicity of other travelers. (Every announcement is in 3 languages -- ENG, SPA and Portuguese.) There are a few kids aboard on "summer break" from South American schools. So we are learning a few basic words phrases (Bon dia is "good-day" in Portuguese). And the Concierge Club is still a bonus perk for frequent travelers in suites that we enjoy on Royal Caribbean, especially for breakfast and pre-dinner socializing .... As well as getting hot tips for tours or other special arrangements from our concierge Juan from Panama.

Dinner is on the "anytime" plan, so we decide when for the next day at our convenience and show up. Last night we joined a round table for 10, mostly Americans. But more often we could be in the minority, which is good too.

Our Blackberries are perfect for travel emails, altho will probably cost a fortune from sea. So we'll buy a WiFi connection for the laptop on sea days, which we can use throughout the ship. Yep, all the comforts of home ... And then some. Prepped my camera gear for wildlife and scnic shooting later this week. And we are on top of FOX and CNN for news and sports, but somehow that all seems less relevant as we contemplate a more serene life at sea. Bon Dia. Jim