9.21pm - The Last Goodbye
Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
20Trip End Dec 02, 2009
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The last few days on board ship, Jane was all but inconsolable, and kept bursting into tears at the slightest provocation (such provocations included discussing which flights we were all on, someone saying they hadn't packed yet, and on one particularly alarming occasion, because "the mountains are just... so... BEAUTIFUL!!!") I was sympathetic, of course, but I’m English, so I was forced to take the piss out of her a little bit.
Right now I wish I had someone here to take the piss out of me and snap me out of it, because I’m having severe difficulty dealing.
The breakdown in our solid routine, the stresses of travelling, too many emotional goodbyes, and a not inconsiderable hangover have all combined to give me a severe case of the weepies. I barely cry at home about anything that’s not related to my family (ooh, or that Cancer Research advert with all the people saying “I shouldn’t be here” and then the bride who says “my mum should be here” whilst Eva Cassidy’s cover of Fields of Gold plays in the background), but right now, anything from looking at the photographs, to the lovely card Justin wrote me, to simply hearing the songs we listened to on board – it’s all knocking me comprehensively for six. They were playing Hey Jude in reception when I checked in and I actually had to dig my nails into my leg to help me hold it together. (We sang along to that the night of the bestamped breasts.)
First of all, I am now the proud owner of a jacket bearing the words “Antarctic Journeys”. Everyone on board has been laden in gear from the gift shop almost from day one, which I have steadfastly refused to join in on. I walk my own path, yo. But I reckoned without the oratory skill of young Andy, the assistant hotel manager and gift shop proprietor. Every day, when the gift shop opens, Andy makes an announcement over the tannoy to let everyone know, and every day it is different but they are all of equal brilliance. Once we were in the bar and Daphne had headphones in, and I yanked them out of her ears so she could hear it. You have to hear his American accent and the way he says it to truly appreciate it, but some of our favourites have included “Shoppers shoppers shoppers!”, “Hello friends, hello neighbours”, and “You can buy a penguin. You can buy a t-shirt. You can buy a penguin ON a t-shirt.” The man is a legend, and no matter how much I didn’t want to be laden down with tat on the journey home, I could no longer deny him a visit to his little souvenir emporium. I figured there couldn’t be too much harm in looking, because most of the good stuff had long since been purchased (usually by the Robertsons, who are never out of the place), but I’d maybe get something cute for my godson Logan or my mum or something. I definitely wouldn’t be buying one of the Antarctic Journeys things, that was for damn sure.
Half an hour later, I emerged with an Antarctic Journeys jacket. Boy got skillz.
These little entertainments were really all we had towards the end, because unlike other sea days where we were still geared up to get to the next spot, this time we knew that our destination would result in nothing more exciting than a flight home. This resulted in a strange lethargy settling over
We did have one small excitement, doing a ship cruise around the coastline of Cape Horn. The Chilean government ordinarily request that vessels stay a minimum of twelve miles off the coast, but the smooth-talking seal-eyed Coolio got on the radio and unleashed a stream of Spanish sweet nothings in the direction of the officials, and they agreed to let us get just three miles from shore. It meant we got a really good view (not that we were fully paying attention – we spent more time pissing about on the bow taking silly pictures than we did having meaningful discussions of our surroundings), and it was interesting to see the spot which had been responsible for sinking so many ships in years gone by. Even today, the weather around Cape Horn gives modern boats trouble, although ironically our passage was as smooth as the Drake. I was genuinely glad for the
Still, no matter how sleepily we passed our final days at sea, the atmosphere definitely ramped up for our last night aboard. I had deliberately held back this nice brown tunic top the whole trip for the final evening, which at times had been hard because I was desperate to wear something other than my same old three outfits, but it was worth it because I got about seven compliments as soon as I walked into the bar. Even Justin said I looked nice, so it must have been true. (I can’t tell you how nice it’s been having a lovely yet evil boy to banter with on board – it’s like a Travel Noj.) We sat around drinking Hannah’s champagne cocktail and looking mistily at each other until it was time to watch a selection of the Best Of pictures. All trip, people have been putting their photos into folders
As is only appropriate for the Captain’s Dinner, we got an after dinner speech from our fearless Russian leader, Valeriy Beluga. His English wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to throw in a couple of jokes, and naturally we are all slightly terrified of him anyway because let’s face it, he’s a Russian sea captain, for god’s sake. The man is clearly hard as a coffin nail. I think we would have laughed if it hadn’t been funny. Or made sense. Or been in English.
Now, I have slight difficulty in recalling exactly what happened next. I know we went to the bar. I know I admired all the crew in their real clothes, rather than uniforms. (As an aside to this, I know I made fun of Jamie for dressing like someone from the nineteenth century. Apparently jeans