Chile & Antarctica, Day 8: Welcome to the White Continent, Part 2

I was starting to feel more and more cold, so this made it the perfect time to go out on the zodiac boat. :-P Especially with the rain that was starting to steadily fall.
We took a ride out to Ardley Island, which has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because it supports a breeding colony of about 4,600 pairs of gentoo penguins and smaller numbers of Adelie and chinstrap penguins as well as south polar skuas.
The babies were so cute!
German researcher and bird expert Hans met us on the island to provide more information.
Afterwards, we went back to King George Island to see Villa las Estrellas, a Chilean town with a summer population of 120 and a winter population of 80. It was actually deserted while we were there because everyone was on summer vacation.
The rain was still coming down pretty steady, and my gloves were feeling pretty damp.

We went to the Chilean Naval Base and took a break while a fresh, dry coat was delivered for Konrad since his was soaked through. They offered us cola and crackers to munch on while we caught up on our Spanish soap operas.
Our "yellow taxi", the carrier, arrived after a while to take us to our campsite.
It was a long, bumpy ride to the ice camp, and I don't know how Alejo even knew where he was driving because looking out the window, it looked like white-out conditions. We were supposed to eat dinner when we arrived while the campsite was set-up, but there was a problem. The generator wasn't working. We waited in the large tent while Alejo set out to the Uruguay base to see about repairing/replacing the generator. I was surprised to see that the tents were your run-of-the-mill camping tents - I was expecting more of a hard-shell permanent camp site similar to what we'd seen on an Alaskan glacier. I shivered inside the big tent for a while, and then Ignacio suggested I sit in the carrier for a while since that still had the heat running. Everyone else was having a grand time building a snow/ice wall to protect our tents from the wind, but I was too cold and drained to join in the fun.
Finally around 9:30 PM, Alejo announced that we would return to the Chilean Research Station and sleep there. The weather conditions were too bad to stay at the campsite without a generator. I crawled into the bathroom tent before the long carrier ride back and discovered that it was little more than a few buckets.
I gotta say, I wasn't terribly disappointed to have to leave the campsite and return to "civilization".
It took about an hour to drive back to the base after the tents were disassembled. The white-out conditions seemed even worse. I wasn't sure what to expect as far as sleeping arrangements, but our group ended up in a shared room with two bunk beds. Francisco and I squeezed in the bottom bunk on one side of the room, and Aaron and Konrad took the other bunk. There was no hot water, so I gave my teeth a quick brush and we went to sleep. We had an electric fitted sheet for extra warmth as the room was really chilly. We never actually had dinner, but we were all too tired to really care.  


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