Ushuaia, Argentina
54° 47' S 68° 18' W
Dec 09, 2003 15:59
Distance 0km

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Text written in: English

Pre-departure stress (9 - 11 December 2003)

As usual I had lots of things to do at the last moment. It is part of the fun but also exhaustive. Contrary to most of my other travels this was not just hopping on another boat. We are talking about Antarctica here, one of the most extreme destinations in the world. Me, just another standard backpacker on this continent was not equipped to tackle this continent yet. The packing list that sounded threatening did not come with my booking if there was not a good reason for it. I was lucky that since this year there is an Antarctic gear rental company in Ushuaia, otherwise I had to buy quite a few expensive things. I had contacted the company in advance, as suggested on their website, and tried to make reservations by email. The emails were not answered for some reason so I was hoping that they would have enough gear left and in my sizes of course. That appeared to be the case and after having tried everything on I rented the parka, the rubber knee-high Wellington-boots and the rain trousers. I would pick them up the following day as I did not have enough cash on me to pay for them (150 Pesos, about 45 Euros).

The day before my departure date it rained all day and it was not until the late evening that I could go back to the company to pay for it. There was nobody there! Mmm, a good way of making me nervous! Running around town to find thermal underwear was partly successful, but I did not want to pay 20 euros for underwear I would throw away after 9 days. I bought gloves and a scarf, which are quite necessary I guess. How much film to buy was another concern. The company I bought the ticket for the cruise from mentioned that the average tourist shoots about two rolls of film a day. It seemed a lot to me, but talking to returning people from a cruise confirmed this average. Buying 15 films at least qualifies for a 10% discount was my opinion and luckily that opinion was shared by some shops I asked.

In order to minimize the costs of the total Antarctic experience I bought three 2.25 liters of Quatro, my favourite soft drink on this continent. Although still Coca-cola it is a very nice not to sweet pomelo drink. To supply with more drinks I bought a few of those great money saving powder drinks you just dissolve in water, which I assumed at least to be free on board. Furthermore I had to get some American dollars to buy some souvenirs on Antarctica. Yes, that is not a joke. The scientific stations have some funny and unique things for sale and postcards and stamps as well. These are all to be paid in US dollars. Having spoken to the owner of the rental gear shop I found out that thermal underwear is not really necessary if you are not a cold person. The fact that I had been running in shorts around town with 6 degrees, because all my clothes were at the laundry all day convinced her that I would be fine with just jeans and rain trousers. And otherwise I could always wrap a T-shirt around my legs, under the jeans, an excellent low budget suggestion!