December 27, 2014

First day in Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the planet!

End of the day expedition leader update:
What a great day! Arriving to Ushuaia is always an exciting experience that uplifts your spirit.
As your plane descends over the Andes down the Beagle Channel a magical scene unfolds all around you. Snow-capped mountains, lush green Patagonia forests, incredible clouds and big skies. Ushuaia, the southernmost “city” on Earth clings to the edge of the Beagle Channel and serves as one of the gateways to Antarctica, our gateway.
We landed on time (together with all our luggage!) and that first moment of walking out into the cool fresh air of Tierra del Fuego is one that you never forget. We were met by our great friends Dario and Nestor who whisked us off in buses to our hotel Los Yamanas.
Since arriving we had enjoyed a wonderful lunch, checked-in to our rooms, and had time to explore the windy shoreline of the Beagle.
Also, for the first time we gathered together as a complete team for an introductory briefing. The energy, excitement and anticipation is building! We have an incredible team of young people and staff members.
Tonight, we feasted on a traditional Patagonian ASADO barbecue, and then the students enjoyed a presentation on Antarctica by the one and only David Fletcher.
This evening concluded with the entire group outside beside the Beagle Channel at sunset, amongst the ‘midden ruins’ of an old Yaghan Indian campsite. They were introducing and sharing something heartfelt and quirky about themselves. It was a great way to keep getting to know each other and build the bonds of our expedition team. Lots of laughter and smiles. It was a tired but excited group that crawled into their beds for a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow is a full day here in Ushuaia before we board our vessel and set sail tomorrow night!!
All is well,
Geoff
 
Below are a mix of student journals, cellphone photos from various expedition team members, and the spectacular photography of Lee Narraway. We’ve decided to use Instagram as our main way to share photos in the “Follow the Expedition” daily updates. However, it’s not a perfect medium, there is some image quality compromises and it requires us to crop certain photos. So if you’d like to browse through the photos in their full glory or if you’re looking for a specific student. Please visit the “Photos” page to scroll through them. It will be updated shortly: http://studentsonice.com/antarctic2014/photos/
 
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“Today we arrived at Ushuaia. The past few days have been all traveling. Going to bed, waking up and getting on the plane. Today is the first day that we’ve finally been able to wind down and relax. Ushuaia is one of the most peaceful and disconnected places I’ve ever been to. I’m so excited to board the ship tommorrow and begin our journey to Antarctica.”
~Brady Buckley, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
 
“I cannot express how spectacular I feel being with an amazing bunch of students from all over the world and embarking on a transforming journey with Students on Ice. It is a privilege! My big thank you to each and every person who has given their full support and encouragement. A special thank you to my entire family, friends, my school: St. Mary’s School, Pune, college: Cummins College of Engineering, and my sponsors. You believed in my dreams!
“All the students, researchers and staff finally arrived today in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. We had an introductory session where we were introduced to our Pods and education stations. The lecture by David Fletcher on Antarctica was a true inspiration for me. Tomorrow, this time we will be on our ship heading towards Antarctica! I can already feel the Antarctic winds hitting against me and I cannot wait to embark on the MV Ushuaia tomorrow!”
~Zareen Cheema, Pune, India
 
“We are only in Argentina and it is absolutely freezing already!!! The trip so far will definately be unforgetable. The people are amazing and the scenary is breathtaking. Even though there has been inumeral amount of hours spent in planes, my new friends make the numb rear ends and sleepy legs well worth the tricky treck. Tomorrow we embark across the Drake Passage, and I’m hoping seasickness doesnt get the better of me. Its almost 11 PM and there is no sign of darkness, so sleep should be great tonight. It’s time for bed though, so goodnight and I’ll blog soon!”
~Danielle Guist, San Antonio, Texas
 
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“The last two days have been busy travel days as we flew between Ottawa, Toronto, Santiago, Buenos Aires and finally to beautiful Ushuaia at the southern most tip of Argentina. What a beautiful place this is and how refreshing after a long journey to get here. We have a wonderful team of students and staff from 14 countries and we are such a great mix of cultures, interests and backgrounds! Today really felt like the beginning of our journey as we have finally all arrived from our various gateway cities and we officially kicked off our education program this afternoon! But the best part of today was hearing an inspiring presentation about Antarctica by David Fletcher ­ a longtime educator with SOI, former Base Commander for the British Antarctic Survey and Polar Medal winner. David has many many years of experience in both the Arctic and Antarctic with a wealth of knowledge and amazing stories to tell. He inspired all of us today and I am more excited than ever to board our ship and embark on this incredible journey!
“After following SOI’s journeys through stories, photos, and videos, I am excited and feel so fortunate to be part of this! To my wonderful family ­ Joel, Ava and Katherine, I love you and miss you so much! I hope you are having your own fun and adventures with your grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins! I’m sending lots of love your way.”
~Ashley Brasfield, Ottawa, Ontario
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“Another 5:00 am wakeup call this morning. First thing I did was look out the window of my hotel room. The sun was just about to rise over the breathtaking view of Buenos Aires. We got ready and headed downstairs for a terrible breakfast of pound cake and cold tea. On our bus tour I learned that ‘Buenos Aires’ literally meant ‘Good Air’ as well as learning that Argentina is famous for the tango. We had about a three hour flight with some amazing views of the land and mountains. You could see the glimmering white snow covering the black peaks of the Andes Mountains, which was spectacular.
“When we all had our luggage, we got on two buses and drove to the hotel, Los Yamanas, that sat right alongside the Beagle Channel. This Channel separates Argentina and Chile. We had a lunch consisting of a ham and cheese pastry, asparagus soup, and chicken in a brown mushroom sauce. We had about two hours of free time and I chose to go down to the water and take some pictures. I put on my rain boots so I could walk through the water and it was a great decision because the view became even more spectacular from the middle of the water.
“Then we had a meeting in a conference room out back behind the hotel. It was another welcoming as well as a briefing about our expedition. We got to know the staff a bit more through the ‘education stations’ and then had an information session all about Antarctica. Following this, we then sat down for an Argentinian BBQ (lamb asado) which was a million times better than I thought it would be. We finished with a blueberry ice cream covered in chocolate. Then we all got dressed warmly, met out front of the hotel and sat in a huge circle in the grass. One by one we told about ourselves as the sun was setting over the mountains behind us. This was such an amazing way to end the day as well as start off our journey as a complete expedition team. As I was sitting in bed I looked outside the window of my hotel room and watched the sun slowly paint the sky different colors until it finally disappeared around 1:00 am.”
~Dawn Damiano, Miami, Florida
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“Anyone would be excited if they were given the opportunity to go to the most fascinating, coldest, and most dangerous continent in the world. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go with people my own age there. It all started off way too early in the morning in Spokane, Washington about an hour and a half away from my home town in Moscow, Idaho. My flight was going to Denver then quickly on to Miami where we met in the conference room at the airport hotel. We got to know each other until Christmas dinner when we bonded even more. At the end of the day, lots of new friendships were made.
“We had another early morning the next day but to no avail since the flight to Buenos Aires was delayed for over an hour. On the plane, everyone was super tired and when the chance came we all caught some z’s. The flight lasted around ten hours and lots of hated the airplane for its terrible seats. Everyone was glad to arrive at the four star hotel which welcomed all of us with compassion. The Canadians joined us there and I got a new roommate from Northern Canada. We didn’t talk much since we were tired, but it was cool to meet him.
“Next day was the best part so far. We took a plane from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia which is the most southernly town in Argentina. It was strangely european for a South American town. It had a great view of the mountain range and overall the view was the best part. I’ll have lots of pictures to bring back to my family.”
~Cullen Burke, Moscow, Idaho
 
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“Today, I arrived at the Los Yamanas Hotel and met the rest of the Students on Ice team. It’s been eight hours and I’m already struggling to soak up as much of the knowledge, beauty, and experience I’m immersed in. The Yamanas Hotel is quite uniquely situated on site that aboriginal nomads used as an area to dump the remains of their seafood meals. Santiago (also an expert birder, and not only the capital of Chile) spoke to us shortly about the history of the land of fire known as Tierra del Fuego and described the unfortunate demise that the aboriginals met when explorers began settling on these shores. If you’re about to embark on a journey to a particularly delicate and beautiful area ­­such as Antarctica ­­it can serve as an important reminder about the impact one can make knowingly or unknowingly. As the sun sets over the Beagle Channel and this life changing journey begins to set in, I am overcome with an overwhelming feeling that these next two weeks will change me more than I thought and the people who I will meet are going genuinely impact the way I think.
“Antarctica, I haven’t seen you yet and you’ve already begun to change me!”
~Sabrina Clarke, Whitehorse, Yukon
“Why hello world.  I’m having such a fun time here in Argentina.  It is truly spectacular.  We flew in yesterday, and we all spend the night in Buenos Aries.  Our hotel was on the 9 de Julio Avenue, which is the widest street in the world.  This morning, we drove by a large monument there, and that was pretty cool.  Today, we flew to Ushuaia, and this city is absolutely beautiful.  My friends and I threw on our rain boots and ran out into the water.  That was tons of fun.  We did a get to know you game tonight, so I’m meeting lots and lots of new people from all over the world.  Oh!  Today I found someone who knows their football very very well, so we were talking about our poor Cardinals now on their fourth quarterback.  That is how I kept busy at the airport whilst waiting at the gate.

Mom, I’m fine and well.  Don’t worry about me because I’m doing just fine, ok?  Ok.

I love everyone, and I hope your holidays were just as amazing as each one of you :)~Sarah Johnson, Phoenix, Arizona

 
 
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“This experience has just barely begun and I have already experienced so much. I feel like the past three days were spent only on planes but there was never a dull moment with the SOI team. After arriving in Ushuaia I truly began to develop the expedition feel. After arriving in the hotel we were briefly introduced to each staff member. Every staff has a different expertise that I can’t wait to learn from. I was astounded after hearing from the ice expert and learning the complexity of ancient ice and what we can learn from it. Learning from one of our team oceanographers opened my eyes to a possible future field for me. My favorite part of this trip was listening to a power point from David Fletcher. The presentation was truly inspirational and I learned more about Antarctica from this than from reading months in advance. I am extremely grateful to be here with these wonderful people and can’t wait to experience what lies ahead.”
~Evan Mcfarland, New York City, New York
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“Day 1: Today was pretty hectic. To start this amazing journey off, there were a couple of plane issues heading to Miami. Our flight got delayed for abought an hour an a half because the main door would’t close properly. So their way of fixing this issue was to tape it with metallic tape. What a joy! (Haha not really.) After flying for about three and a half hours, we finally reached our destination at the Miami airport. We then received our luggage and set off to the hotel to meet everyone else. There we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner where I meet a ton of amazing people from all over the United States.
“Day 2: Today is the day we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We start the day with a 5:00 am wake up call. After this flight also being delayed for about an hour and a half, we finally boarded our nine hour flight. Once we arrived, it was blazing hot in temperature. It was night time, so we drove 30 minutes to our beautiful Hotel Scalla where we spent the night.
“Day 3: Today we woke up at 5:00 am again to board our flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. The flight lasted a good three and a half hours. Once we arrived, it was freezing! We drove to our stunning water-front hotel where we met the rest of our group from several different countries. We all had lunch together for the first time as a “family.” After lunch, we had a briefing about what we should expect out of this journey and what a stunning place Antarctica is. Next it was time for dinner around 7:00 pm where it was still really bright out! We had an amazing meal of Argentinan lamb that had been cooking for hours. To get to know everybody better, we had a get-together circle where everybody introduced themselves. We said opur names, where we are from, something heart felt, and something quirky. This little get-together was a pretty amazing time. The sun didn’t start going down until around 9:00-9:30pm. After this amazing day of spending time with friends, we finally got to wind down for the night. Tomorrow we embark the ship and say goodbye to stunning Ushuaia.”
~Suzanne Zeid, Longview, Texas
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“I won’t bore with details on my food or day to day interactions and this will be more a guide to my inner musings and observations. The first thing I noticed when I rode through the semi large city of Ushuaia, it felt strangely European. Argentina is known for its profound interest in European culture, and the structure of the buildings represented that philosophy. Each building was structured after what was seemingly a cottage in the alps ­ a myriad of colors is what first caught my attention.
“Afterwards at the hotel we had a beautiful view of the Beagle channel, which is the small border between Chile and Argentina. Although it holds some significance the idea that such a small lake could represent such a distinctive border was an almost foreign concept to me. For example the difference between Canada and America is the grandiose and elegant Niagara falls, but here it seems strangely calm and serene. There is no show or even a real distinction, just a separate line of mountains. It shines a certain light on my understanding of the world.
“As much as I value the borders of America it seems almost blase when it comes to foreign countries’ borders, they are less pronounced and it almost feels like they don’t view themselves as inherently different. They are simply a set of countries that are defined by arbitrary borders, and it’s a truly enlightening experience if one sits to contemplate it for various amounts of time. Even the few Argentinians we meet regard it as sort of “just there”. It gives a sort of subtle insight into the light of how people treat their borders and how different it is from my own internal perceptions.
“What I’m most excited for is the vast bleakness, devoid of life and in it’s own sort of morbid way, beautiful nonetheless. Antarctica is only a day away, and I’m already teeming with excitement. Adventures I will never forget are only moments away from discovery.”
~Aalekh Kaswala, LaPlata, Maryland
 
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“Finally after all of the travel we arived at Ushuaia. Upon ariving we saw one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever seen. The city is surounded by mountains and is right on the Beagle Channel. The best part of the day by far was the afternoon, when we all met as a group for the first time. We met all of the staff and listened to Dave Fletcher talk about the Antarctic. His stories about his experiences in the Antarctic were amazing and got everyone very excited for our trip. I can’t wait for tomorrow when we are planning to hike to a glacier on a mountain.”
~William Sanderson, Perth Road Village, Ontario
 
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“Today began with a frenzy of activity, checking out of one hotel, getting our stuff together to check into another hotel, grabbing stuff from the main town area of Ushuaia to bring to the new hotel on the outskirts of town. The landscape of Tierra del Fuego served as the backdrop for our morning activity. The landscape here is a scene only possible when two great beauties of nature meet. The legendary Andes, massive in both individual size and range, clashes dramatically with Southern Oceans, to create a contrast that can only be described as beautiful and powerful, although these descriptions only cheapen the experience.
“We arrived at the hotel and were immediately thrust into the environment in which we will be learning and living in for the next two weeks. Countless students from all different parts of the world, with different attitudes, and different ways of interacting with others. Educators, ranging from scientists specializing in remote sensing technoglogies or ocean ecosystems, to seasoned workers and explorers of the great White Continent. The day completely blew by, being engrossed in the tales and facts that the leaders of our expedition had to tell; until we were finally sitting outside our hotel, the day done, and the sun setting over the Beagle Channel. I think with these final moments of the day there is only one feeling across the group: excitement. Hearing the stories of this incredible place that has shaped the lives of the admirable people in front of us I believe has left the students anxious to experience what is just a couple of days in front of us. And for the individuals who have already been to the Great White Continent, the promise of returning to a place that still has so much more to teach I think will leave them restless until we see the shore in three days time.
“Thank you to everyone who has made this day possible. I have not even began my journey but am so grateful that I have the opportunity to have this expereince sitting right in front of me. To all of the sponsors, the community members, and family and friends who have supported me in undertaking this journey, thank you. This will be an experience to leave a lasting impression on me. I only hope that I can bring this experience back to Whitehorse with me and allow all of you a glimpse into what I have found on the Great White Continent.”
~Patrick Soprovich, Whitehorse, Yukon
 
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