9.43pm - This Ship Has Sailed

Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
Trip End Dec 02, 2009

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday 6 November, 9.43pm, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Greetings from Chile! That's where we technically are right now. I know this because at some point I must’ve got signal for long enough to get a text from T-Mobile saying welcome to Chile.

Yesterday on the coach transfer from the airport, Peregrine Lady insisted politely but firmly that we all be ready for at least 10am, and preferably more like half nine, so that our suitcases (or in my case backpack, because, you know, hardcore and that) could be collected and taken to the ship. We would then have the morning at our leisure in Ushuaia ("Ooo-swaiya", if you were wondering). Now Ushuaia, while claiming to be a city, is clearly hiding its cathedral in someone’s basement or something, because if I might be so bold, its charms are somewhat limited. It’s very quaint, very sweet, it’s got quite a lot of hotels and some very nice restaurants (from what I experienced last night, anyway). It is not, however, especially large or grand. In fact, it is doing an excellent job of disguising itself as a small town that’s sprung up to service a busy port. Thus spending a morning at leisure in the place is not the gripping possibility it might initially sound. Either way, I didn’t really get the chance – I wanted to go to the farmacia to get some moisturiser and aspirin (I idiotically forgot to go to Boots on the morning I left England, and at Piccadilly, and at Euston, and at Heathrow), but instead I spent a fairly dull morning practically falling asleep in reception – I don’t know what the hell they were doing at 10am, but they weren’t picking up my luggage, as they were supposed to, nor, from what I can ascertain from my fellow passengers, were they picking up anyone else’s either. Eventually at 11.30am I rang them, to which the woman basically said “Yeah, it takes a dog’s age, leave it with your hotel and let them deal with it.” So I did just that – the nice girl at reception said she would hand off my bag when they arrived, and I could go hang in the transit room. I tried to get a kip on the couches downstairs, but they were these ridiculously overstuffed leather things that were SO not comfy – perhaps a tactic to stop people outstaying their welcome? – and I could not get comfortable, so instead I just pootled about on the internet for a while. Which turns out to have been a sensible thing to do, because it’s the last time I’ll get a chance for a while - the story with the ship net is that it’s all done via radio, and they have to set you up an email account. I don’t really know why I wrote that, of course, because by the time anyone reads this, I’ll be back in Argentina, uploading this from my hotel! Does mean that I can stay in touch with the important folk though. And would you adam and eve it, I was clever enough to send an email out this week to all the people I like to e regularly, so I’ll just email Louise in the morning and get her to send my new email to everyone so they can keep in touch with me here aboard the Vavilov. It’ll be quite strange to not go on Facebook for a month though. It’s entirely possible that I’ll die. It’s also entirely possible it’ll do me a power of good and I’ll stop being such a 'book addicted loon. I’m still going to be updating my Twitter via text though whenever we get a signal anywhere ashore – you don’t win that easily, open-ocean-with-no-internet.

So how it is here, out on the open ocean? Well, aside from the distinct lack of internet, it’s not too bloody shabby. When I arrived at the meeting point, I was feeling very small and lonely only, couldn’t work out which bus to get on and was worried everyone would be approximately a hundred and seven and I would be scorned for being young and moronic and not being able to discuss serious, weighty issues like birdwatching and Palestine. I figured it was a certainty that NO-ONE would be interested in discussing America’s Next Top Model with me, that was for damn sure. When I got on the bus, it was all full up except for a few seats at the back with just one person on them, so I joined a reasonably un-serial-killer looking chap called John, who turns out to have a very wicked sense of humour. He’s Australian and probably in his late forties, and spent the rest of the day following me like a puppy, bless him. Clearly he wants my sex. (Stop hyperventilating Lynda, he shan’t be getting it.) When we arrived at the ship, I trundled off to my room to find my two roommates already inside. Anne, Janet and I are all strangers, but Anne and Janet do have one thing in common, which is I’m guessing (although Anne looks a bit better preserved) that they’re both in the region of their late fifties or early sixties. Anne might be a little bit younger, actually, because she’s mentioned having a son who’s 23, so I’m guessing she didn’t have him too much after she turned 40, if at all. They’re both very nice, Anne’s Australian and a right laugh and Janet is English and quite sweet, if a little old-fashioned. Even so, I must admit to heaving a hearty sigh of relief upon exiting the room and discovering that next door are the much younger Andrea and Daphne. I initially pegged them as being not much older than me, but after having some chat with them I’m thinking they’re probably in their early to mid thirties, since Andrea mentioned that she lived in Manchester for 14 years, and she moved there because she went to Salford Uni. Andrea is English, Daphne is Irish, and they’re both absolutely lovely. I also met Jo and her husband Neil. Jo is an Irish girl who’s probably late thirties, who I spotted on the plane down from BA – she’s got gorgeous red hair so she’s hard to miss. I immediately identified her as the only one who looked vaguely of an age to me, and decided I would befriend her come hell or high water. We’ve not been on the ship a day and we already had good banter at the meet and greet bit and then sat together at dinner. Mission accomplished!

There are also some crew people I am intrigued by. One is called Jamie. He’s the only English guy on the crew (others are a mix of mostly Aussies, some Yanks, and a couple of Canadians and Kiwis). He’s probably early to mid thirties. He has an awesome smile. And he’s very dry. This is a Good Thing. I have a feeling his name may crop up again.

Tomorrow we head to the Falkland Islands. We’ll get there early on Sunday, so all day tomorrow’s at sea. I’ll sign up for the email first thing then I can pester all you lovely folks back at home. In the meantime, I’m going to turn in – Janet and Anne had already bagsied the two bunks when I arrived, leaving me with the sofa bed, but it doesn’t really bother me, to be honest, because every night during dinner, the turn down team (yep, the turn down team) come and make it up into a bed, and then every morning during breakfast, they come along and remove all the bits and turn it back into a sofa. I get goddamn maid service, motherfuckers. I don’t have to make my bed for a fricking month. BOOYA.
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