Antarctica- Friday, January 26, 2018…More from the Falkland Islands…Saunders Island…

A small group of Gentoo Penguins heading out to sea for a morning swim and hopefully a bite to eat.
Each day, during this exciting Antarctica cruise, we’ll be attempting to post activities from the previous day’s expeditions, including wildlife, scenery, and ship photos. 
The temperature was above freezing, but the heavy gear kept us warm and protected from the harsh winds. Like all of us, Tom was wearing a life vest which is mandatory while riding on the Zodiac boats. There are two Gentoo Penguins by the shoreline.
Soon, we’ll start posting some food photos, but right now, we’re thinking less about our luxurious cabin and meal and more about nature is sharing with us in this stunning winter-like wonderland, so far removed from any world we’ve ever known.
Me and a few Gentoo Penguins on Saunders Island in the Falkland Islands.

Currently, our world revolves around getting outside on the Zodiac boats to see the treasures of this most unusual place on the planet, leaving us with memories we’ll treasure until the end of our days.  Getting enough rest to partake in all of the activities has been a bit of a challenge with my still recovering infected knee, not yet 100%.

We enjoyed seeing the interesting markings on the Magellanic Penguins.

Although, my FitBit has been smoking as we’ve managed to do over 10,000 steps a day over some rough terrain; hills, rocky patches amid steep climbs and inclines. No doubt, the knee is sore, but I’m hopeful it will continue to improve now that we’ll have two days at sea to rest and recoup.

Two Gentoo Penguins were figuring out how they’ll spend their morning.

This cruise is less social for us than many other cruises. Half the passengers don’t speak English. Many came together in groups, leaving but a handful with whom we can engage. As it turns out, this cruise is less about socialization and more about learning about this majestic environment. We’re doing fine amid this social structure.

Two Gentoo Penguins were rushing along the shore, deciding if they’ll head into the sea for breakfast.

We’ll have plenty of time for socialization upcoming in South Africa when invitations for social events have already started rolling in. In the interim, Tom and I, in our usual manner, are having lots of fun together every moment of the day and evening. Even the setback of my knee hasn’t hindered the quality of the time we’re spending together.

A King Penguin parent was feeding its newborn chick.
Closer view of the newly hatched chick.
This small ship, Ponant Le Soleal (Soleal, meaning “the ship that shows the way), is bright white and varying shades of grey in a calming and pleasing contemporary design. Only five years old, it sails along with the greatest of ease. 
This photo, if carefully examined, illustrates a King Penguin, near the center of the group (slightly to the left) with a newborn chick which they were feeding from time to time, next to another penguin whose chick had died.
Every so often, the mom/dad with the live chick gets into a scuffle with the parent with the dead chick.  So sad to see.

Of course, we’ve yet to experience the Drake Passage in its entirety, where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet for the roughest waters in the world. We’ll see how that goes on this tiny vessel.

Finally, the frantic parent with the dead chick turned away.

The fact that we’ve been able to post a few times has given us great hope that we’ll be able to stay in and out of touch as we continue for the two remaining weeks until we disembark in Ushuaia to fly back to Buenos Aires for two nights before we make the two-day flight to South Africa. We’ll need to be rested for that.

King Penguin parents overseeing the feeding and safety of their chicks.

The ship’s Wi-Fi is very expensive at US $250 for 18 hours, giving us approximately one hour a day of use. Tom has stayed offline except to send his blind brother Jerome the daily post as they occur minus the photos. 

This is a Brown Skua.

The remainder of the metered Wi-Fi time consists of preparing posts as quickly and as error-free as possible offline, then uploading them with photos and with as many corrections as possible. 

These Magellanic Penguins were headed out for breakfast.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time online to conduct research and provide links (other than our own) to share with you, as we often do. Half of the 17-day cruise will be spent visiting islands, glaciers, and ice floes, while the remainder will be out to seas, such as today and tomorrow. 

A well-padded King Penguin.

We intend to share every aspect of this cruise, including photos from every outing on the Zodiac boats, the essence of this type of expedition cruise. We’ll make every effort to ensure all of our readers will share in this adventure with us from their armchairs at home or desks at their office, minus the cold, minus the rocky ground, and; minus the steep inclines. 

A Gentoo Penguin swooning toward the sky.

For us to be able to do this with all of you means so much to both of us, adding an element to our experiences that feels as if you are right beside us.

Due to the cold climate, plants such as this may take decades to grow to this size.

Last night was a formal night, and as always, we did our best to fit in with dressing appropriately. Some women wore evening gowns, but only a few men wore tuxedos. There was a fixed menu in the dining room, which the chef accommodated my diet, which worked well and was the best meal we’d had on the ship to date. 

More beautiful slow-growing vegetation. Humans mustn’t touch or disturb any plants of vegetation in Antarctica, which may take decades or even centuries to grow.

After dinner, we headed to deck three to watch the most lively group of dancing passengers we’ve seen to date. What an enthusiastic group! Most were French, and they sure knew how to “boogie” to the music.

Many seabirds are killed as a result of humans fishing in their waters.

Tom and I love to dance together. Last night we danced a few times, with me dancing while standing in place. One can do a lot while wildly flailing their arms on a dance floor.

A hard reality in the animal kingdom…they don’t always survive the elements.

I appreciate your patience as we stumbled through the at-times-challenging Wi-Fi connection, which we anticipate will only get worse as we sail further south to the “real” bottom of the world. Stay tuned, folks. We’ll be back with more.

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2017:
Tom is standing next to the Australian flag at the entrance to the Australia Day festivities in Franklin, Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

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