The End?

So I’ve been off the radar for 10 days sailing through the Drake Passage and exploring the white continent, Antarctica. I’m on the biggest (natural) high you can imagine sprinkled with a little bit of sadness. My amazing (this is not the best adjective to use) trip has come to an end.

But the excitement (or unknown, scariness, suspense) does not stop there. My last post talked about my bumpy ride down to Ushuaia, Argentina. This one will talk about the eventful flight back to Buenos Aires.

Sitting in my window seat going through photos of my trip, the oxygen masks suddenly fall from the overhead compartment. Initially I thought it was a malfunction and that they accidentally all opened up. I was mistaken. Without being told why, we put the masks on and started breathing normally. At the same time, I smelled burning. Did I mention we were probably 10,000 ft in the air? Here we go again.

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As I’m still breathing into the mask trying to remain calm, the lady and her daughter next to me inform me that the captain just said we are close enough to land into BA but at the larger, international airport. Initially we were going into the domestic airport. She told me in basic Spanish so I could understand. Then she offered me a mint. She must have seen my worry and my constant praying in hopes everything was going to be alright. These Argentines really know how to comfort people.

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As we approached EZE International Airport, we were told to remove our masks. It felt like it was a 1000 degrees in the cabin and you could still smell the burning. As we were landing, emergency personnel were waiting to follow the plane as soon as it touched down. They were right behind us waiting for the plane to stop.

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There was no terminal for us. We got off on the tarmac, bussed to the baggage claim, and then escorted to another bus to shuttle us over to the domestic airport, if that’s what we wanted.

My heart is back to beating an approximate 72 beats per minute and I’m back in BA to spend the weekend in what people refer to as the Paris of South America.

Posts and pics of Antarctica will be coming soon. I need to organize it all and decide where to begin. Until then, you have the beginning and now the end.

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Barf Bag

I have taken every precaution to help with seasickness on my upcoming Antarctica cruise. A large ziplock bag contains all the items I need. Of course, this bag is nestled amongst all my clothing in my checked luggage.

I fly A LOT! I’m on a plane on average of once a month. I NEVER get motion sickness in the air. Not until today. My early morning flight out of Buenos Aires was extremely turbulent (there went my nap). I found myself praying and asking God to not let this be my time (seriously that bad). He listened. Thanks, God.

Not sure what the pilot was thinking. We had a full plane and everyone was loaded. It started to rain hard. With the rain came some serious lightening. I thought for sure we’d be delayed but nope, the pilot went ahead. As much as I hate delays, this was one time where I would rather watch the storm pass instead of experience what I did. Is this a prelude of what’s to come in the Drake Passage (I hate that my mind even goes there)? I certainly hope not.

It came to a point where the sweet Argentinian couple sitting next to me, who are about my parents age, ensured I had a barf bag in hand, turned on the air and fanned me with the emergency evacuation pamphlet to make certain I didn’t lose my shit (no one wants a vomiter next to them). She even offered me gum but I remembered I had mints. Popped two in my mouth, did some deep breathing in the bag and eventually I was back to normal. It also helped that the plane was much more stable.

Again, I don’t know if I get seasickness or motion sickness. If you recall in one of my earlier posts, the only time I was ever seasick was when I went deep sea fishing. I’m not sure if it was the boat, the water or the booze and street food I ate the night before. Yesterday I had wine (a few glasses) with my amazing meal that was extremely filling and only had three hours of sleep before making my way to the airport. I guess I’ll never know but I’m so thankful the nausea is gone, the plane is flying smoothly, and that I’m one step closer to my Antarctica cruise.

FYI:
The remainder of the flight was much better and the landing was smooth.
I took the unused barf bag with me…just in case.
The couple were still making sure I was okay. Very sweet of them.

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AR

Rain, Pouring Rain, Sunshine

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “When it rains, it pours!” Well it did for me yesterday. I saw a suspicious charge on my main credit card that I use for foreign travel (because it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees). It was from the company that provides insurance on my cellphone. I called them to inquire about it and they said they knew nothing. They advised me to contact my credit card company, which I did. Chase said they needed to cancel the card. I freaked! How could you cancel my card the day before I leave for my trip?? There was no way I could get a card in the US before I left, the card would not make it to Argentina in time and Antarctica….well considering mail takes 2-3 months to reach North America, that definitely wasn’t an option. So, luckily, they are not canceling the card but monitoring closely until I get back. I am only allowed to use the card in person and not remotely. If there are anymore suspicious charges, they are going to put a security hold on the card (I won’t be able to use it) notify me to confirm I am aware of this and then release the hold so I can continue to use the card until I come back. When I return, I need to dispute the charges, cancel the card and get a new one. It was such a pain to have to deal with something like this the night before I am traveling to the bottom of the earth, literally.

Then I call United Airlines to confirm my flight and find out that my connection in Houston is only 39 minutes. I was told that Chase Travel, who booked my flight, had to make the change. Chase Travel wanted to charge a $2300 change fee. Yes, you read that right. $300 to change the flight but because they don’t allow changes or cancellations and then you have to buy a whole new ticket ($2000). Are you f*@#ing kidding me?? So then I call United Airlines again and explained my situation and also questioned how they thought 39 minutes was enough to get from one gate to another to make an international flight. Initially, the customer service agent couldn’t do much. I asked for a supervisor. Then the supervisor authorized the agent to book me on the earlier flight from San Diego to Houston…FREE OF CHARGE!

Needless to say, it rained, it poured, I shed a few tears and then things started looking up. I packed for about 4 hours last night. This was tricky. I had to pack for Buenos Aires where it is HOT (~87F), Ushuaia where it is CRISP (~50F) and Antarctica where it is COOL (30-40F WITHOUT any wind). I could only bring one big suitcase and one carryon. Keep in mind, my clothing for Antarctica is similar to ski clothing.

There were a few items I packed which added a little sunshine to my day.

The first is a shawl that my aunt knit and used to wear. She passed away at 65 years of age. My aunt, my mom’s sister, was the sweetest, kindest last who adored her family and who was loved by many. When Billy Joel sang, “Only the good die young,” I believe that my aunt definitely fit into that category. It is the perfect accessory while on the ship taking us to Antarctica.

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The next item is the hiking boots. Might not seem like much but I have had these since I was at the University of Calgary in the mid 90’s. I don’t usually hang on to shoes this long but for some reason I did with these boots. They bring back good times at U of C. I’m excited to make new memories in these old shoes.

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The next item is something new that my dear friend Tammy sent me in a “just because” package. It has such a beautiful message about life and connects elements from two amazing places (which I have yet to experience) in the world.

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And lastly, my suitcase and backpack. Clothing for two different climates, cameras, computer, etc. I am ready to go. So even though it rained and poured problems yesterday, this morning brings me nothing but sunshine because I am on my way to Argentina and Antarctica!

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Roughing It

I’m not a nervous or anxious person. It takes a lot for me to feel anxiety. In planning my upcoming trip to Antarctica, I’ve been  reading daily on what to expect especially when crossing the Drake Passage. If you don’t know what I am talking about, here are a few links to educate you on what going through the DP could look like.

http://www.coolantarctica.com/gallery/scenic/weather/Antarctica_weather3.htm

Keep in mind, it’s not always like this. It could be fine or it could be worse. Regardless, I find the videos I watch on YouTube to be both frightening and amazing. I am trusting that all will be well as these are trained experts navigating the ship through what is considered the “roughest waters on the planet.”

How do I fair when it comes to seasickness? I don’t know. I have been on boats but not long distances like this (10 days) and not in rough waters like this. I did once go 50 miles into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico to go deep sea fishing and I spent a majority of our four hours fishing feeding the fish my bait, otherwise known as my vomit. But I’m not going to blame it on choppy waters and a small boat. In the ocean/boat’s defense, I did go out the night before and enjoyed some drinks and street tacos in Rocky Point, Mexico. Was it seasickness? Was it the booze? Was it the food? I won’t know until next week.

With that said, I have taken precautions and stocked up on ANYTHING ginger, holistic Chinese pills, CVS brand Dramamine, and Sea-Bands worn on your wrists to help. Keeping my fingers crossed our sail will go smoothly and I don’t throw up on anyone. And I’m guessing that having a glass of wine while going through the DP would probably be not be the best idea.

Wish me luck as I’m roughing it through the Drake Passage!

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The First Time

I probably should have done this a long time ago given the excitement my life gives me…but I didn’t. So here I am at 38 years of age writing my very first blog (get your mind out of the gutter).

You see, the excitement I speak of is my LOVE for traveling and my goal of hitting all seven continents before the age of 40. So by August 29, 2016, that goal must be met. I thought it might be too difficult considering the last two continents I have left are Africa and Antarctica. Africa is a long trek from sunny California, in the middle of an Ebola outbreak (West Africa but nonetheless, people are freaked to travel to ANY part of Africa) and not a continent I want to travel alone.

Antarctica, on the other hand, is only accessible from about November-March (summer in the Southern Hemisphere) and is quite expensive. BUT….somehow, someway, I am making it happen. A week from today, I am embarking on a two week journey that will take me to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a few days, Ushuaia, Argentina for a few more days and then a ten day cruise through the Drake Passage to the continent of Antarctica.

With that said, I have decided to start a blog for The First Time to write about my upcoming journey, post about my past travels, and write about anything else that makes me live the exciting life that I live. Thanks for being a part of it!

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