The first time that I was in Ushuaia in 2006 my first craving to visit Antarctica was initiated. Antarctica was something of a dream, an unrealistic one, like those I had as a teenager involving the newest hot artist who happened to passionately fall in love with me, an insecure, pimply, 14-yr old carrot redhead. Those dreams never came true. And although I never gave up on dreaming, I now am able to separate the unrealistic ones from the ones that actually might come true. I do believe in the last.
In case of Antarctica I never really thought about going there, assuming that it was something for the lucky few with a budget that far exceeded any amount of money I could imagine having in my bank account. In addition, Antarctica sounded as something abstract, unreachable, off this planet.
When in Ushuaia, I sailed the Beagle Channel with a group of people. We were looking at maps, showing us the geography of the area. Our guide explained about depths and lighthouses, islands and borders. He talked about Cape Horn, named by the Dutch, owned by the Chileans. As a seemingly insignificant detail he added that Antarctica was only a thousand kilometers away. We continued sailing watching sea birds and sea lions, circumnavigated the famous lighthouse and went back to the port of Ushuaia after a beautiful trip.
On my own in the harbor I stayed to watch the movement of the ships. The next day we would leave for Iguazu, a world away from Antarctica both in distance as in substance. It felt weird, frustrating, unfair even to be this close to Antarctica – relatively at least – but travel the opposite direction some 4.000 kilometers north to see some waterfall.
At that instant I decided to look into the possibilities of going to the 7th continent myself (not that I have been to the sixth, but who cares). I learned about last minutes promotions on scheduled departures to Antarctica. Being booked in Ushuaia directly last beds sell with good discounts of the normal price at times.
I was lucky. Two years later, on my second trip in 2008 I visited the office of Ushuaia Turismo, a small and dedicated Antarctica agent. Daniela, the owner, welcomed me with a big smile. I had saved all the money I could to make my dream come true and told her, committed to making it happen: I want to go to Antarctica! She smiled again, and started explaining about the distinctive trips, ships, itineraries, sights and circumstances. She was in no hurry and being a knowledgeable expert, answered my questions. Those were few: I thought about it but could not come up with anything that would add to my envision of how the trip would be, other than amazing. I was just in a hurry to go.
It sure was my lucky day. And a hell of a trip. I never stopped smiling again. It’s contagious I guess.