Who knew that one’s bucket list can include sailing beneath the waves in a six-person yellow submarine named Ringo? That’s what I found myself doing last month as part of a cruise down the coast of South America starting in Valparaiso. The subsurface water outside the sub does not have great visibility due to ground up rock from the glaciers feeding the fjords. Krill and crabs and fish live down there. It’s a surprisingly calm environment even when a storm is brewing on the surface, as we soon found out. Hence, our kayaking was postponed for another day.
I also got to ride in several Zodiak boats, which gave me a chance to hold a fragment of an iceberg. Look how clear it is! This surprised me until I thought about how clear icicles can be. It was also unbelievably cold. The green is actually the strap of my floating case to hold my cell phone.
Not all the icebergs, or the glaciers from which they split off, are clear like this. Some have a decidedly blue color and include layers of ground up rock. Have I told you how much I love rock?
The ship (Viking Polaris) has several scientists on board. They launched a weather balloon one morning simultaneously with hundreds of others around the world.
As we sailed south, we came upon whales—hundreds of them and not all the same species. There were more than I could count, all blowing moist air from their blowholes. Hmmm, I was so astounded that I don’t seem to have gotten any pictures of them. The wildlife sightings also included black-necked swans, otters, sea lions, dolphins, a fox, vultures, and other birds. We also saw the paw print of a South American puma while hiking in the Andes, which is as close as I wanted to get to it.
Onward we went, all the way around Cape Horn! The tip of South America really was as cold and windy as it looks here!