— Dane Creek

Day 3: Buenos Aries to Ushuaia

(This is part of a series of re-posts from my trip to Antarctica in 2009)

I got to bed at 1:30am and slept wonderfully until about 7am. Then I managed to roll over and fall asleep again until 9am. Dare I say I’m time adjusted already?

After a quick breakfast I grabbed my digital gear and headed back to the Ricoleta Cemetery to shoot for a Photosynth. It is the perfect place for it: lots of interesting things at all levels of the scenery, and lots of obvious edges and differences that should synth well. I took 303 photos for a Photosynth of the full main corridor, we’ll see how it works. After shooting the synth photos I switched to the Lensbaby. Those shots were for you Roberta! The Lensbaby and the cemetery were made for each other. I shot with it for about ½ an hour and easily could have gone another couple of hours more.

While at the cemetery I saw a guy shooting with a 5D Mark II, 70-200 2.8 IS and a microphone on top. I figured he had to be Chris Sanderson who is on our trip documenting the whole thing for a video later. I said hi, turns out I was right, and he was there with Michael the leader of our trip. We chatted for a bit then went on our separate ways.

Late checkout at the hotel meant I had time to offload photos from the cemetery and post a few to Facebook. A quick lunch in the lobby café and it was time to head to the airport.

The domestic airport is far nicer than the international one. As you might expect there were people from our trip crawling all over the place, mostly fretting about whether they’d get dinged overweight fees on the checked baggage. Mine clocked in at 22 kilos, about 8 over the limit, but there was no charge. Others were not so lucky: one lady was charged $65US!

About 15 of us hung around a café area until it was time to go through security. The moment I was dreading: how do I explain without Spanish that I want my film hand-checked. Turns out it wasn’t a problem. Until the guy decided to open one of my IR film canisters to look inside. ARGH. $10 roll of film down the drain. I stopped him before he ruined the rest and caved and let him x-ray them. It’s only their second time so they should still be ok for the return trip.

Boarding for the flight was a free-for-all. While standing around waiting a few of us did a quick estimate and figured there was at least $500,000 of photography gear on the plane between the 30 of us. The more I think about it the more I think that’s low since at least three people have medium format systems where the backs run upwards of $40,000 each. One guy is the VP for Phase One and he had at least three medium-format backs. Wow.

The plane is, to put it nicely, a relic from when Ian was a child. It’s an MD-80 that looks like it’s never been refurbished. The seats don’t stay upright and locked. The tray tables have busted latches all over the place. At check-in they asked me if I wanted a window seat, and I said yes. Seat 32E is indeed a window seat, with a lovely view of the engine. Ha. At least they served real food on the 1 hr 40 minute first leg of the trip to Trelew. It was some weirdo sandwich with ham and cheese that was grilled once long ago, and an incredibly dry square of something with an approximation of fruit jam on top. I was (un?)fortunate enough to have Chris and Michael in the seats behind me, so we chatted a bit. As soon as the plane cleared out in Trelew the two of them made a beeline for open seats farther forward. Was it something I said???

The jump from Trelew to Ushuaia is another 2 hours, and again they served food. This time a ham and cheese sandwich on a real roll, and a very dry lemon dessert thing. I am very glad I know how say “dos agua por favor”. By this point in the flight I’d changed to a new seat. Bad idea. Someone in the row in front of me smelled bad. Like, WTF is wrong with you dude???

Anyway, we’re in Usuhaia which is cute, just the right amount of cold, and the sun won’t set until 11:30pm. I’ve got my hotel room (A triple! And I have the middle bed. Again, WTF???). Seven of us (including my two roommates) went for dinner at a seafood place recommended by our bellboy. We joked that his parents must run the place. King crab is the touristy thing to eat here, and they had a few in the tank. They are tiny compared to what we see in Richmond. I had crab cooked in a light broth with tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies. It was just so-so. The crab was overcooked and tough. Oh well.

Anyway, Paul and Steve (my roomies) seem nice. Time to try and get some sleep.