I didn't know anything about the
Antarctic until my first Chilean Fjord/Antarctic Cruise with
the MS Hanseatic in January 2, 1996. I guess, like many other
people, I considered the Antarctic as a great mystery and
although longing to learn about it, I did not pursue the study
until then. I've learned that this continent is vast and there
are no Eskimos or Polar Bears at this southern extremity. I
was privileged to visit the Arctic only six months ago and I
don't think many people can make that claim. This 3PM today, I
had the most unique experience in my life when I finally
gathered enough courage to get on a Zodiac to meet my first
penguin. We were told not to get within fifteen feet of any
penguin but there was one curious one who came to me while I
sat to zip up my boots. He stared at me and looked friendly.
We stared at each other until he got bored. Trudging through
the snow later was extremely aerobic. It was most
invigorating. On this cruise we had a full ship of 158
passengers and almost everyone today took the Zodiacs to join
us on Peterman Island which I've considered my favorite. I'll
post photos here soon. Today's weather was a brilliant,
sunshiny and brisk 45 degrees F and wonderfully still. We
visited a few Penguin colonies and took miles of video
footage. Unlike Paulet Island where there are millions of
Penguins, Petermann is quieter with only a few colonies. I
stayed onboard that day that the ship anchored near Paulet
Island. It was much too cold for me that day.
The bleak snowy deserts that are
found here in the Antarctic are among the most inhospitable
places on earth but despite the bitter cold, a surprisingly
large variety of animals and plants survive on the rare rocky
out crops that fringes around the ice caps. The stormy
southern ocean and islands teem with life!
Words penned by Cook: "Lands
doomed by nature...always frightful whose horrible and savage
aspect I have not words to describe. Yet it can be transformed
within minutes to an Eden of ethereal beauty. Quite suddenly
the wind will drip, the sky will clear, the light will
strengthen until mountains 300 miles away can be seen by the
naked eye and the ice will glow with colors so brilliant and
be encompassed by a stillness so absolute that they have to be
experienced to be believed. AT such moments, the Antarctic
offers a pageant of beauty unequalled anywhere in the world.'
I just had to copy his logbook
entry dated Feb. 21, 1775. I don't think there is any other
description as succinct as Captain Cook's. I feel privileged
to be in my luxurious cabin writing this diary as I gaze at
the snow capped horizon through my stateroom picture window
and sipping Apolinaris from a champagne glass. I think each
and everyone onboard are dining tonight. I won't dine in the
dining room tonight because I am looking forward to a quiet
meal by myself. Ah, the wonders of Room Service out while
gazing at out into the Antarctic, can't be beat.
There was only one problem on the
first few evenings. We could not do our concerts onstage
because the beautiful icebergs were my competition. Sometimes
the light shows in the sky literally take my audiences away.
However, my first full show finally happened and I received
the most wonderful ovation and shouts of Bravo from a very
kind and generous audience. On this cruise we had an
international crowd, Germans, Americans and Argentineans.
Indeed, music is universal.