It’s not every day that you wake up in the Pacific Ocean and go to sleep in the Atlantic, but that is what today was about on National Geographic Explorer: translocation.
Our day started with a relatively early Zodiac cruise into Seno Garibaldi. Assigned to the last Zodiac, I saw everyone depart until the mudroom was empty…and there was no one to ride with me! Through the rectangular opening of the starboard gate, I watched the ice drift by, slowly borne by the shimmering glacial waters, until the choco-boat arrived. I had the amazing chance to tag along with my colleagues in the hospitality section. Marek, Merrick, Andrea, Gabriela, and I became an unlikely bunch of Vikings – “friendly ones!” Andrea reassured everyone as we handed out hot chocolate. It was great fun! One group saw a sea lion, another a Magellanic penguin. As for us, two lady condors escorted us back to the ship.
The transit through the Beagle Channel (whose name in Yaghan is Onashaga) felt invigorating. We sailed past the snow-capped hills and the forests of Nothofagus, slowly saying goodbye to the majestic silence of the Chilean fjords. The lounge was taken over by thrilling presentations that connected us to that wild world out there: we learned about seabirds with Javier, the history of the Indigenous peoples of the Southern South with Jackie, and underwater biodiversity with Rachel.
Between the end of the last presentation and recap, while the ship was heading towards Ushuaia to enter Argentina, I went up to the bridge to say goodbye to our Chilean pilots who guided us so expertly through the labyrinthine fjords.
The day ended with a beautiful surprise: our Filipino crew, dressed in gauzy, traditional clothes, prepared a festive Filipino-style dinner with a buffet of delicious courses, beautiful decorations, and delicately carved watermelons. Between bites of delicious lechón, one of my interlocutors said: “In the world out there, there’s war and conflict. And it’s amazing to be here, sharing cultures, with happiness, like this.” It left me thinking: when we open up our cultures to others, we also share our homes, even if we might be far away from home. And while National Geographic Explorer traveled eastward towards the Strait of Le Maire, some of us (many of us, I dare hope) were also travelling in other directions: heart-wards, perhaps…