Coming to the end with the climax of the story, when all is fulfilled or all is lost is the most anticipated point for a reader but perhaps is the hardest time to write for the writer. Even seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for awhile, the moment when you reach there is always too sudden. We arrived in Buenos Aires 10 days ago and since then has been a whirlwind of changes where I felt like I was in the eye of a tornado. We moved through daily life like it was just any other day but all around us, our landscapes and our way of life was changed, shifted, ripped up and remade.
Our world has shifted…. completely….from the land to the water. Instead of flying home, we found a repositioning cruise which will take us from Buenos Aires all the way around South America and finally reach Los Angeles after 31 glorious days. Repositioning cruises are when cruise lines move the ships from a cruising season in one part of the world (i.e. Patagonia) to another (i.e. Alaska) as the seasons turn. Winter in the south means summer and sailing season in the north. Repositioning cruises happen once or twice a year, are one way, cover bigger distances with more sea days and fewer ports and tend to be cheaper. For us, the cruise was almost the same price as a one way plane ticket from Argentina and we didn’t have to worry about packing all of our bikes (…and our four panniers and backrack bag…each!!) onto airplanes. Easy decision for us!
However, cruising was a pretty big shift in our lifestyle….
We wheeled our bikes onto the massive Golden Princess cruise ship on February 28, 2015, which is I’m told, three times bigger than the Titanic. From sleeping on our air mattress patched over half a dozen times, we are now sleeping a bed that is probably half again bigger than our tent. This bed is made by our steward not once but twice a day. Do people really need that many new towels? I would hate to shock people with how many times our camp towels have been washed in the last year and a half. There is a continuous buffet during waking hours plus 24 hours a day room service plus three dining rooms, a sundae bar, a cafe and lots of other restaurants and bars. All the food available is like a cyclist’s heaven… or a hell if you consider that we’re not riding anymore. The gym has become a second home for me because it is just too weird to not be exercising 8 hours a day. This being the first real cruise we’ve been on, I have learned that cruising life is kind of like summer camp for seniors with lots of activities organized. Then, there are formal nights, which seems a bit like prom. We attended in our best attire – my super fade, barely holding together blue summer dress and Bryan in a matching blue turtleneck. Colour coordinated! However, everyone else was dressed beautifully in elegant evening gowns and men in sharp suits.
Today is our 8th night on the ship and we have travelled from Buenos Aires to Montevideo in Uruguay, back into Argentina for Puerto Madryn, sailing out the British territories of the Falkland (aka Malvinas) Islands and today, in 45minutes as I’m writing this, we are going to round the southernmost tip of South America, Cape Horn.
Before the Panama Canal, people heading up to California for the gold rush had to round the treacherous Cape Horn. We are certainly living in a lot more luxury but in some ways, I feel a kinship to those early travellers. We too are heading to the west coast of North America and it is quite a journey. It is a passage taking many weeks to the ends of the earth where there are different stars in the nighttime sky. Here, we will be able to see the Clouds of Magellean with the naked eye, the fuzzy glow of distant stars in the closest galaxies nearest to our own Milky Way galaxy. These are called the Clouds of Magellean because they were first described (in European accounts that is….) during the first circumnavigation of the world by Magellean and were called the “Cape Clouds” because they can only be seen in the far south, especially rounding the Cape Horn in the Americas or the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
We were on a journey to the southern end of South America but I never dreamed we would actually get this south to the southernmost tip. Getting to Buenos Aires was an amazing, magical, beautiful triumph. However, when people say, “Wow, it is a trip of a lifetime!” I think, it will be one of many life adventures both big and small.
Rounding Cape Horn is another triumph.
From the hazy clouds, the sky cleared to blue all around us for an amazing calm sail around Cape Horn – a rarity in the typically turbulent extreme southern seas. On the horizon, the sky was lighter blue deepening to a royal blue above us and the rolling dark blue waves shone with a metallic sheen reflecting the sky above. Sea birds were white dots skimming at the water’s surface. Woohoo for getting to the southernmost tip of the Americas!