Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Times

The Antarctic Dream continues. This time no pictures of the boat. Instead, the good time we had on the boat. How many of you have spent New Year's Eve in the Antarctic?

The food, booze, and laughs were plentiful. Everyone got into the act, including the bartender (above) who should have been pouring our next round of drinks.

Fun, fun, fun with an Argentinian and Chilean crew just a few moments before midnight, ready to ring in 2010.

The fun was hot. The food was spicy.

The women on board referred to this converted Chilean naval vessel, built in 1957, as the "Love Boat".

...because they all had a crush on "El Capitan". A handsome 40-ish Chilean heartthrob known only as "Ernesto".

Here's "Ernesto" toasting our friend David (but Ernesto's eyes are on David's wife, Caroline). Can you say it ...softly..."Ernesto"....

Uh oh...anyone seen Ernesto? They're all wondering where he left and with whom.

Paul thinks Ernesto has squired away with Corita. Way to go, Ernesto! Happy New Year!

Actually, Corita is back in the cabin cleaning her drawers.

And here I am cleaning out mine, in the bath tub. I told you, the food was spicy. Our friends called it "traveler's tummy". But no, it was just the s***s.

Happy New Year! So what the hell else is new? Paul says he's loaded his britches in Spain, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico (duh), the Peruvian Amazon, Tanzania, and on a transcontinental flight on a private jet known as "Regent Air". Everybody enjoyed that one. Dyan Cannon was on board and boy, did she tear up. So losing it in the Antarctic is nothing new for Paul. For him, it's like people who collect refrigerator magnets when they travel. He collects something even more memorable.

This is the toilet in our cabin. Hell, he didn't even make it that far.

By January 3rd, Paul's feeling better while our friend Brian is being felt out by one of the guides on his interest in helping to finance a new travel venture. Purchasing an old Russian submarine that can cruise beneath the rough seas and carry about a hundred passengers to and through the Antarctic. I kid you not. This is actually on the drawing boards. Think about it: an old Russian sub, 100 paying passengers bound for the South Pole. Stay tuned.

Brian said he'd have to think about that one because his mind was on other things, like his big day, today, January 3rd. He turned 6-5. And the passengers and crew threw him quite a party.

It's hard to get Brian excited even when people fawn all over him. Which is what makes him so likeable.

The ship's chef prepared a cake especially for the occasion and along with our friends David and Caroline from Australia, Paul, Denise and I tried to ratchet up Brian's excitement level.

And what could excite a 65-year-old more than the little stuffed penguin that Paul bought him?

Well, I'll tell you what. A pair of underpants that Paul also bought him. Denise had mentioned they packed four suitcases, twenty-seven changes of clothes, with parkas, snowplows, skis,but forget even a single pair of skivvies for Brian. So Paul picked up these Euro-style briefs. Paid $20 only to find out they don't even have a fly. But Paul said, "Well, what the hell." He craps his drawers. Why can't Brian go in his?

While Paul is buying Brian stuffed toys and underwear, Denise laid out about $200 for this long skinny thing.

Turned out to be a wine caddy made with a special rose-colored stone found only in parts of South America. Paul says Denise just doesn't understand what men want for their birthday: toys and underwear.

Meanwhile, back in our cabin after the fiesta, we watched for the fiftieth time a documentary on the ill-fated voyage to the South Pole by Ernest Shackleton in the 19-teens.

And did we mention that our expedition is led by Ernesto? Nothing ill-fated about this. Except Paul blowing a gasket. Passengers were actually heading for the lifeboats before they discovered what the explosion really was.

After ten days at sea, we're back at the dock in Ushuaia, Argentina. Brian, Denise, and Corita came back ten pounds heavier. Paul ten pounds lighter.

End of the cruise. Adios, Ernesto.

Before departing Ushuaia for the three-hour flight back to Buenos Aires, we did more shopping and over-indulging at the sandwicheria.

In Buenos Aires, we checked into a cabin that wasn't rocking and rolling. This is at the Melia near downtown. Great place. Huge room...

...with a magnificent view of the sorry construction site across the street. Made us think of what would happen to a crammed city like Buenos Aires if an earthquake hit. And wouldn't you know, we come home just as Haiti gets slammed in early January and Chile is hit in late February.

The day before coming home. That pole sticking out of my head is where I was mugged on Christmas eve. Remember that? I sure will.

But this turned out to be the most dangerous part of the trip. The 100-mile-per-hour race to the airport.

We were so happy to see Daisy after her three-week stint in the pet gulag. She had lost weight and once back home, began eating everything in sight, starting with this shoe. That's our girl!