Gear Gone MissingAdventure Travel, Air, Antarctica, Cruise, Packing & Wardrobe — By Holly C on April 17, 2008 at 5:57 pm
One of my favorite things about blogging is the cool people you meet through the web. One such woman is Wendy Ferguson a fellow travel-lover and New Yorker who recently returned from Antarctica. When Wendy (pictured here) read that I was heading to the South Pole as well, she went beyond giving me travel advice-she offered to let me borrow the gear she’d used during her own trip!
I was more than game to hear her travel stories and save a couple hundred bucks, so we met for a drink at the W Hotel in Union Square. She shared her tips and passed me a big bag filled with cold-weather essentials.
Wendy had mentioned that making the trek to the bottom of the world meant mastering the f-word (that would be flexibility). And this definitely proved true on my trip to Ushuaia, the southernmost city on earth and the gateway to Antarctica.
To get there, I signed up with a non-profit organization called People To People. Kind of like study-abroad vacations for adults, the program lined up top experts to lecture onboard about everything from glaciology to marine mammals to the politics of the seventh continent.
People to People travelers flew in from across the country to meet in Miami, where we were flying Aerolineas Argentinas to Ushuaia with a brief layover in Buenos Aires. The three-hour layover extended into an overnight delay. Being stuck in the City of Tango might not sound like a horrible fate, but it required being at the airport at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m. to catch a 5 a.m. flight to Ushuaia. Though sticking to a schedule isn’t the airline’s strongpoint, at least they offered us hotel and dinner vouchers so we weren’t forced to curl up in a crowded airport lounge while waiting for our plane to touch down.
The good news: Our group landed safely in Ushuaia the following morning. The bad news: My bags didn’t. Missing luggage is more than a nuisance when traveling to The Ice: Temperatures that could drop as low as negative 59 degrees call for hi-tech essentials. As protection from the unpredictably harsh elements, a waterproof outer shell, wind-proof hat, and insulated inner layers such as fleece pants and silk undershirts are must-haves. But the worst part was that most of the gear wasn’t even mine, and I was sick to my stomach with the thought that I wouldn’t be able to return Wendy’s original stuff. At least I’d thought to stick her expensive binoculars and special UV-protection sunglasses in my carry-on (just in case!).
With the ship scheduled to set sail later that afternoon, I had no choice but to pull out the plastic for a last-minute shopping spree on San Martin, Ushuaia’s main shopping thoroughfare. Stay tuned for a tour of the town during my treasure hunt for new gear.
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