Breakfast is a simple buffet (eggs, fruit, bread) at 7:30; all meals are at prompt times, not dragged out, in order to make the job easier for the kitchen. I found milk to drink, but I’m finding that the meals on board are kind of meager. I won’t starve, but I’m pretty unlikely to gain any weight on this trip.
We’re at sea all day today so the schedule is filled with lectures by the staff. Doug starts with “Natural History of the Falkland Islands,” which Melinda and I end up a little disappointed by. The talk was a fine “birds of the Falklands” but we learned nothing of the natural history. The same goes for a talk by a different guide – a promise of the natural history but really skips that part. This trip is all about the creatures of the Southern Ocean – people, natural history, and related aren’t really on the leaders’ minds.
So we attend some lectures and take a few brief naps during the day, catching up on sleep that wasn’t there last night. We lunch with two people whose narrow-minded views inspired by Michael Moore movies made us all too happy to leave as soon as I was done. Fortunately we’re still early enough in the trip that it’s polite to ask where one is from, whether one has taken this trip before, etc., as small talk, so it’s easy to meet new people, too. Dinner tonight we ate in the other dining room than last night, and I like this room better – smaller, cozier. We met a couple from Australia, ??? and Robert, and we dined with the artist (Edward) and a guide (Marlene).
We got the next day’s schedule at dinner, which’ll be two landing sites but with the option to hike from one to the other. Melinda and I, and 90% of our dining room, is planning for the hiking option, so that’ll be fun. It’ll be a 4.5 mile hike, it sounds like, and we’ll pack a lunch. We’ll be at New Island in the Falklands for as long as 11 hours, if we take the first and last zodiacs. More likely, we’ll be closer to 10 hours. Still, a long and hopefully fun day. On the island are rockhopper, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins and black-browed albatross. All of this is contingent on the weather, though – rain, wind, or worse can change the plan. I had to press surprisingly hard for weather details this evening, as “dress in layers” was not the helpful packing suggestion the staff thought it would be. I’ve brought a lot of layers with me, so I’d like to know if I should plan for 30F or 60F (apparently, I should plan for 55F). I tried offering the suggestion to the expedition leader, for future trips, that they have a first-timers introductory lecture the first day, because there’s a lot of things like what to pack for the landings, and even when we should expect we’ll know what to pack, that we’d like to know. Repeat trippers know already but the first-timers don’t even know what questions we ought to have answered. My suggestion was lost, though; the notion that first-timers may want a little custom orientation didn’t sink in. No worries; Melinda and I’ve figured out most of what we need to know now, although I’m still seeing some quiet faces in the crowds in the lectures.
Oh, and the laundry system works. We got our first load back today so we’re set for cabin wear for the next week. I think the cost of laundry will about equal the cost of checking an extra bag big enough to hold the clothing we’d need, but without the bother of having that extra bag. It’ll still be worth it. In the end it’ll be less than 1% of the cost of the trip so, yeah, a pittance.
On deck for tomorrow: awaking earlier than we did this morning; preparing for the equivalent of a day hike in Marin and a kayak trip across the Bay; seeing a penguin in the wild for the first time.