Off we go!…Busy day getting ready for our return to Africa…Final Expenses two nights in Buenos Aires…And, a new video of Elephant Seals as well as more new Antarctica photos…

 Elephant Seals is doing some serious power lounging in Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica. Check this out for a bit of humor.

Yesterday was one busy day. Not only did we have to open all the boxes we’d left behind to lighten our load for the cruise to Antarctica, but we also had to take out everything we own and repack it literally.

Thousands of Albatross nesting Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands.

Then, we had to check the baggage weight limits for tomorrow’s flights, weigh the bags and move things around as needed. As it turns out, we’ve made it all work, but we will have to pay US $80 (ARS 1602) for our third extra bag. Each of our two main bags is within the 51 pound (23 kg) limit, give or take one kilo or so.

An attractive small iceberg with glacial ice and snow.

Then, we scanned all of our receipts, tossing the paper from the past 20 days since we left Buenos Aires for the cruise, including our cruise bill, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.

A Humpback Whale, one of many we spotted in Neko Harbor.

From there, we paid our two-night Prodeo Hotel bill in cash (trying to dispose of our remaining Argentine pesos), prepaid by credit card our taxi fare for today’s ride to the airport at US $50 (ARS 1001) using a credit card. 

This left us with enough cash to tip the waiter for tonight’s dinner (cash only for tips) at La Cabrera (we decided we needed to go one last time) and a balance of about US $14 (ARS) for the tip for the taxi driver and possibly a cup of coffee and tea at the airport.  Perfect.

It looks like the King Penguin on the left is nesting an egg.  Or, could it be the chick is tucked underneath the parent’s feathers?

Alessandro, our extraordinary hotelier, printed all the paper documents we needed to have in our possession since we won’t have yet purchased a South Africa SIM card for our phones which included:
1.  Flight information
2.  Rental car contract and information
3.  Directions from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga airport to our holiday rental in Marloth Park. (It’s been four years since we were there, and we needed a refresher.
4.  The address and instructions for getting into the property in Marloth Park when we arrive between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm.

Rockhopper Penguins are so adorable.

Gee…we don’t like having to carry “zee papers” with us, but in this case, without data access, it made sense to us. We didn’t want to be fumbling around with our laptops or phones to find what we need.

During intermittent breaks from preparing yesterday’s post, I ran upstairs to our room, did a little more sorting, folding, and packing. When I returned Tom did the same. By 2:00 pm, we both went upstairs and weighed the bags using our portable scale. So far, so good.

We missed a better shot of this whale’s fluke.  But, when whale watching, one takes what they can get.

At that point I went online to attempt to prepay for the bags only to be given a notice see a pop-up announcing we can only check-in at the counter at the airport nor could we prepay for our luggage (50% off to prepay) which again must be done at the counter. This has happened many times in the past. 

This is frustrating. Why should we have to pay double when we were unable to pay for baggage online. We’ll certainly take this up with the rep when we get to the airport if they attempt to charge us the higher rates.

This Caracara looks ready to find lunch.

Trying to stay positive, we moved on to the next thing, putting together the expenses for this quick two-night stay in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Here are the totals:

US Dollar
Argentine Pesos
Hotel – 2 nights
$ 140.00
$ 50.00
Dining out- inc tips
$ 82.50
$ –
$ 272.50
Avg Daily Cost
$ 136.25
“Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.”

This morning we were up, showered and dressed early after a good night’s sleep. By 8:00 am, we were situated in the hotel lobby for a light breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, ham, and cheese. 

After all the whale watching trips we’d done on tours these past years, to see plenty in Antarctica was a dream come true finally.

Who knows when I’ll get to eat again? Airline food never works for me since the available options never fit my criteria. Oh, well, I’ll be fine. We’ll figure out something for dinner once we arrive in MP when we know we’ll be too tired to grocery shop.

We’ve received similar certificates on past cruises, such as transiting the Panama Canal, etc. We scan these rather than carry them with us.
We each received an Antarctica Explorer Certificate.
Sit tight, dear readers. We’re about to go for quite a ride, this time with more experience and an even greater passion for the world around us. Hop on board!

 Photos from one year ago today, February 10, 2017:

More than 400 pilot whales stranded themselves on a New Zealand beach on the evening of Thursday February 9.
Hundreds of pilot whales were stranded on the beach in New Zealand. at this time last year. (Not our photo). As we think about all the whales we saw in Antarctica this becomes all the more heart wrenching.  For more details, please click here.

Hospital visit for the knee…Favorite photos from Buenos Aires…12 hour countdown until departure…What if we can’t post due to a poor signal?…

Our favorite graffiti art.

The Minnesota Vikings game last night was hard to watch. They were brutally beaten, leaving us fans sorely disappointed with but a tinge of hope for the future, as always.

By the time we got into bed last night, it was after midnight. We both had a bad night’s sleep. As soon as I got into bed, I noticed my leg was throbbing, more swollen and red. I got up several times to ice it with no relief at all. I don’t think I slept for more than three hours, and Tom didn’t do much better.

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve from our hotel rooftop.

While preparing today’s post this morning, I told Tom the pain in my knee was worsening by the minutes since last night. With so little time remaining until our 3:15 am drive to the airport, I knew something had to be done.

We grabbed a taxi and headed to the large local private hospital recommended by our hotelier Alessandro, Santorio De Los Arcos, which was only a five-minute ride. Within an hour, I was seen by the doctor, examined, and diagnosed with an infection.  

An adorable little e parrot is sitting atop a birdbath.

No wonder my knee was red, hot, and swollen, keeping me awake almost all night. The entire bill for the emergency room visit and the prescription came to a total of US $62.68 (ARS 1,200)! I wonder how much that would have cost in the US or other countries with outrageous medical costs.

The pharmacy is located next to the hospital. Tom left me seated in a wheelchair in the lobby while he got the prescription for antibiotics filled. Sure, I don’t particularly appreciate having to take antibiotics, but I’d also despise having an infected leg situation escalate while in Antarctica. 

Carved-in-stone wall art.

I can’t express how grateful I am that we went to the hospital this morning. , When I fell, the skin broke slightly. When we returned to the hotel, I washed it with hot soapy water and used hydrogen peroxide. Hopefully, the meds kick in soon, and I’ll be on the mend and able to participate.  

This wasn’t enough prevention to avoid an infection appearing three days later. If we’d gone one or two days earlier, the infection wouldn’t have been apparent, and I wouldn’t have been given antibiotics. Whew!  Safari luck!

More fantastic wall art on the side of a building in Palermo.

Tonight, we’re hoping we’ll be tired enough to be able to fall asleep by 9:00 pm to awaken by 2:45 am to head out the door. By this time tomorrow, we’ll have arrived in Ushuaia and at a local upscale hotel where we’ll have lunch and spend part of the day.

By 2:00 or 3:00 pm, we’ll be escorted to the pier in Ushuaia, where we’ll board the ship and check-in for the 5:00 pm sail away. It won’t be until we’re on board that we’ll be able to figure out the Wi-Fi situation and sign up for a plan suitable for our needs. 

My favorite meal was at La Cabrera, where we dined five times during our 31-night stay in Buenos Aires. The small side cup is unsweetened buttery pumpkin mash.

There are many comments in the Ponant cruise documents that the Wi-Fi signal will not be good once we’re a distance from Ushuaia. As for tomorrow’s post, we’re still hoping to have time to prepare it today and set it up for an automatic upload at the usual time tomorrow. It will contain the final expenses for 31-night in at the Prodeo Hotel and a short hotel review.

Tom ordered this massive steak four out of five times at La Cabrera.

Please keep in mind that we’ll be preparing a post daily for the 17-days we’ll be on the ship (actually, it’s 16-nights, but the cruise line refers to it as 17-days). Certain days, perhaps three or four in a row or more, we won’t have a good enough signal to upload the posts. 

Once we receive a good signal, we’ll upload the posts for each of the days we’ve missed. However, we’ll only be able to upload a few photos with each post, if at all. Once the cruise ends, we’ll upload more of our pictures and any remaining posts we’d yet to upload. 

Tom, at the botanical garden.

All in all, there will be 16 or 17 days of posts until we return to Buenos Aires on February 8th, where we’ll stay for two more nights until departing for Africa. During this period, we’ll make every attempt to get “caught up.”  If we don’t have enough time to do so, I’ll finish the missing posts with photos once we get settled in Marloth Park. once we get paid in Marloth Park

This is similar to when we were on safari in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Kenya in 2013.  We had an awful signal and couldn’t get most of our stories and photos uploaded until we were back in Diani Beach, Kenya.  But then, we posted a new story with photos each day for many days.

After Tom’s excellent haircut at a little nearby barbershop.

Of course, we’ll be bombarded with new and exciting current events as they occur in Marloth Park during this period. No worries, we’ll keep it all separated and easy to read.

Thanks to all of our readers who wrote to me offering prayers and warmest wishes for a fast recovery. That means so much to both of us. And, once again, we’re disappointed to be sharing another medical issue, but, as we’ve always promised, we make every attempt to “tell it like it is.”

Me, at the botanical garden.

Please continue to check back each day for new posts, and don’t be discouraged if an expected post isn’t available. Please know, we are thinking of all of you and passionately taking Antarctica photos, excited to share them with all of you.

The mausoleum for the famous Duarte family,y including Evita (Duarte) Peron’s remains.

Hugs and best wishes to all of our friends/readers! Stay well! We’ll “see” you again soon! (Hopefully, by tomorrow with the final expenses).

                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2017:

I had to take all of our photos as we arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, while the car was moving due to a lack of shoulder, which is always challenging. For more photos, please click here.