A Travellerspoint blog


The Seventh Continent

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We know the drill now. We arose early, ate breakfast while looking out at frozen landscape, dressed in our layers, and went down to board our zodiac. We are in the strangely named Paradise Bay, and the landscape is different today ... craggier mountains, a low cloud cover, ice floating all around us, and baby, it’s cold outside.

Today we didn’t make a wet landing but toured the area in our little boats. The first surprise happened right away; we sailed around the ship to a stationary zodiac – to which we latched on and were offered hot chocolate with Kahlua or Bailey’s . Well. After a sip (or two) we sailed to a floe on which basked a crab-eating seal with a beautiful coat and a sweet dog-like face. We watched Gentoo penguins play and petrels swoop, and we looked at a lot of ice. The photos don’t capture the colors of the ice. Actually ice is blue, intense gorgeous blue, and when it captures ice bubbles, the air makes it look white. We were offered a chance to fish a chunk of ice from the sea and take it back, rinse the salt off and have it in a drink. Apparently, the bubbles inside it were formed maybe ten thousand years ago and have been under ice pressure ever since, so when the ice melts in your drink the ancient air pops out and crackles. We didn’t do it because it meant taking off our gloves. Wusses.

The white hulled ship pictured here is the Silver Whisper as we sailed away from it. The black hulled ship is another member of the fleet, the Silver Cloud. The Cloud is an exploration vessel also in Paradise Bay, and the two ships sailed (very slowly) side by side while passengers and crew waved and shouted. On each vessel a crew member flourished a four foot cardboard hand on a stick. It really was amazing to see this apparition in the most remote place we have ever been.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:06 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)



sunny 30 °F

large_IMG_0493.jpglarge_IMG_0494.jpglarge_IMG_0506.jpglarge_IMG_0516.jpglarge_IMG_0507.jpglarge_IMG_0501.jpgIt is summer here in Antarctica: the days are 21 hours long. Last night we didn’t close the curtains all the way so about four o’clock this morning we awoke when brilliant light flooded our suite. Sun streamed across the ice and the reflection from the snow made everything shine and twinkle. After days of sailing through grey waters, we see 6000 foot tall mountains, icebergs that have calved pierced by turquoise spaces and crevasses. There is pink ice, blue ice, cream ice, brown ice, and every shade of white ice. There are snow tracks where melting snow has made patterns like someone has combed the mountainsides, and there are tracks that penguins make going back and forth to the water. There are no roads, no cars, no buildings, no wires, no people. Just snow and rocks and thousands of Gentoo penguins. And some humpback whales, blowing and playing shipside.

The Drake Passage was indeed Drake’s Lake. We sailed through easily, down Gerlache Passage to Danco Island where we stopped. We are not at anchor, we are drifting; whatever that distinction is, we aren’t moving.

So we started preparing for our expedition. Here are the layers: underwear, silk long underwear, synthetic long underwear, waterproof pants, socks, boots, then a hooded many-layered parka (red so they can always find us) which can be detached into three parkas and has zip pockets inside and outside, in the sleeves and in the lining. Then undergloves and overgloves and a scarf and hat (we left the neck gaiters behind). We were barely able to move but managed to waddle (a little like the penguins) down to deck three where we joined many other guests in red parkas. Some of them had fur hats. We were all very very hot.

Next into the zodiacs. Teams of two grabbed our wrists and moved us from one team to another across the loading platforms into our little boat. Once in, we sat and scootched ourselves along the side – and then we were off across the waters. How astounding, how fortunate we are, how amazing this is, what a privilege; how awesome, how mighty the snow and ice covered mountains, how many many many penguins. The rookery could be heard and smelled before we went ashore, thousands of them chattering raucously. The little guys leave the rookery, in pairs and trios and often alone, and they waddle to the water, hopping over rocks. They are pretty skinny until they emerge from the sea fat and tubby. What they are doing is stuffing themselves on krill and carrying it back to regurgitate and feed their young.

Then back into the zodiacs. The return is a little harder because you walk through the water on slippery rocks and then heave (maybe some people moved gracefully but Hope heaved) yourself across the boat for the trip back to the mother ship. And then you climb up a ladder and walk through some chemical to kill whatever you have stepped in. (One thing we stepped in was salp, a tiny chordate that is jellied and transparent – and looks like nothing we have ever seen before.) And then we rejoiced that we were on Silversea. The crew had prepared chairs for us; they took off our boots and gave us slippers. Then they cleaned the crannies on the boots and our butlers returned them to our suites.

Your heading here...

Posted by HopeEakins 13:31 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Where the disciples were first called Christians

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Aboard the Silver Whisper February 2, 2020 at 9:15 am

HYMN: Marching to Zion

The people say the words in bold italics.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


LORD, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go then from your Spirit?
where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there your hand will lead me
and your right hand hold me fast.

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles
[There] were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” (11:20b-26)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

The disciples had followed Jesus; they had mourned his death. After that fatal day at Calvary, they sometimes doubted that he really was the Messiah after all, but they had seen signs that he was still with them, seen resurrection in their own lives, and decided that just maybe they would follow him, live as he had taught them, come together and share bread and wine and pray as he had led them. It took a while, but pretty soon people noticed the way they were living and started to call them Christians.

Names matter. When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in this part of the world, it didn’t sell well. Maybe it had something to do with the name. In Spanish, Nova means No Go.

Names matter. Call a child Fatty or Four-eyes and you could break their heart. Call your partner Beloved and it weaves you together with bonds of trust and gladness.

Today we were supposed to be in a place where names REALLY matter, a place called the Falkland Islands or the Malvinas depending on your loyalties. Even those names came from names. The first European there called them the Falklands after the homeland of his expedition’s sponsor. And the founder of the first settlement named them after the port of Saint-Malo in Brittany, which itself was named after the city’s founder.

It seems that God takes names seriously too. The first thing God asked Adam to do was to name all the animals. Then God named Adam’s wife Eve because Eve means "mother of all living." When Jesus gave Simon a new job, he gave him a new name and called him Petrus, Rocky, and said, on you, Peter, on this rock I will build my church. And a few years later on when a man named Saul stopped persecuting Christians and became one instead, he took the name Paul.

“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians,” says the text. Most of us here would call ourselves Christians. Jesus tells us what that means. He says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Names matter. If people call you a Christian you’d better act like one. I know. As a person who sometimes wears a clerical collar when I go to the supermarket, I know better than to push my cart ahead of the elderly man blocking my way. Dressed like a professional Christian, I had better act like one, and I had better keep on acting like one even without my collar.

The church at which Bill and I serve is large and well endowed – AND – on a corner by a bus stop. Throughout the day, people in need see the cross on our tower and knock on the church office door to ask for help. Why? Not because they think we are a social service agency but because they know we are a church. The cross on the tower marks us as a place where people care and share the self-giving love of Christ, and so we hand out blessing bags with hats in the winter and fresh vegetables from our garden in the summer, and we say a prayer with those who want one.

Imagine what the world would be like if one way or another every Christian lived as though they were marked with a cross. And indeed we are. We wear the cross that was traced on our foreheads when we were baptized and marked as Christ’s own forever.

So if we are marked as Christians, how can we cast a vote to enrich ourselves on the backs of the poor, if indeed, “they will know we are Christians by our love?” How can we lie to our boss, our spouse, or even to the Internal Revenue Service if we are told by God to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around our waist? (Ephesians 6:14) How can we pollute the earth and fill the sea with plastic when earth and sea are not our possessions but only gifts given us to use and pass on to our children?

So what do you think prompted the people of Antioch to look around and call some folks Christian? The Christians didn’t look different; they didn’t have a different accent. It must be that they acted different and the people of Antioch recognized their love for one another and for the world. Oh, if we could live the same way today, live so that even if the whole Gospel story were lost, it could be reconstructed by looking at us, the ones they call Christians.

The Prayers
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have wasted the earth’s resources and polluted our children’s inheritance.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
We have hungered for riches and power and taken what is not ours as our own.
We have offended against your holy laws,
We have ignored the hungry and homeless, the unemployed and destitute, orphans, widows, and those who are lonely.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
We have nursed our anger and refused to be reconciled with those who have hurt us; we have been intolerant of those who differ from us.
We have done those things which we ought not to have done.
We ask for grace to see ourselves as you see us and to amend our lives according to your Law.
Have mercy upon us.
We pray for our world’s leaders and for all who have authority over others
Give them wisdom and understanding.
We pray for those who travel, for the crew of the Silver Whisper, for our expedition team
Keep them safe.
We pray for all who bow before you, that the gifts of faith and hope and love you bestow upon us will deepen our understanding and respect for one another.
Open our minds and hearts to see you in unexpected places.
O God our heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the birth of Bob and Twyla Elliott’s grandson, Sebastian Sage, and for your abiding presence, mercy, and love. We commend into your keeping Lillian Lazaris Giachino, mother of Nick, who dies this morning, and we give you thanks for her life and all that she means to her family and friends. Bless us on our life’s journey and give us grace to follow where you lead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all
evermore. Amen.

HYMN: Onward, Christian Soldiers, verses 1, 4-5

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins

Pianist: Lech Wos

Reader: Martin Chow

Altar Guild: Jane Kline

Usher: Douglas Kline

Expected time of the next service: February 9 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 06:28 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Antarctica ho!


Breaking news: We are not going to the Falkland Islands aka The Malvinas. The ship’s Captain and the Captain of the Expedition Team called a meeting and showed us the Ocean Weather Service map. The seas will likely be too rough to get to the Falklands, they said, and certainly too rough to anchor there. Furthermore, even if we could anchor, the wind is too strong for us to get to port by tender. So we are going straight to the Antarctic Peninsula while the going is good, The Drake Passage will not be Drake’s Lake, but it will be manageable, and this will give us another day to explore the ice. The forecast for returning to Ushuaia (at the bottom of South America on Tierra del Fuego) is still uncertain.

So we look at the mound of expedition equipment piled on our beds: parkas with parkas inside them, long underwear, gloves, hats, turtlenecks, boots, thermal socks, wet pants, neck gaiters and peppermint oil to put on our upper lips to quell the smell of penguin poop. And we speed ahead. We have passed whales and seals and petrels and the ship’s stabilizers are working well.

We have new respect for Eskimos and workers at the Polar Stations. And penguins.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:01 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)


Wales in Argentina

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We feel like we are very far away! We are sailing down the east coast of Argentina and have arrived at Puerto Madryn, Argentina, on the Patagonian coast in the state of Chubut. It looks like Patagonia. The eye sweeps across flat and dusty pampas with occasional guanaco (like llamas) and rhea (like ostriches) in the scrublands.

As we drove two hours westward on narrow and straight and bumpy roads, it was hard to believe that we would see anything larger than a bush, but we did. Somehow there is a river in Chubut and near the river is the Narlu Artisanal Fruit Farm. Our eyes bugged. Never would we have imagined anything green growing in this desolate land; never would we have imagined flowers managing to send roots into stone hard clay. But there at Narlu, a series of irrigation canals brings enough water so that an elderly man named Charlie can farm many acres with beautiful cherry trees and berries and lavender and hazelnuts and walnuts. Charlie walked us through his fields where we picked strawberries and raspberries that were the sweetest ever. The roses were the reddest ever too. Really. Charlie also has a guesthouse with bathrooms and a little shop that sells his produce and gavd us tastes of jams and nuts and juice and Welsh wedding cake.

Welsh? Yes, this region is filled with so many Welsh families that Welsh is an official language of Argentina! The immigration began in 1865 when a clipper ship brought 150 folks to Puerto Madryn, a harbor safe from the high land rents and harsh working conditions at home. The Welsh lived in caves near the coast but there was no fresh water, so they moved inland and dug the irrigation ditches still in use.

We moved inland and visited the Old Chapel and New Chapel, two iterations of the Nonconforming Church of Wales. Interesting lighting! Weekly worship in Spanish is led by an ordained minister, but all Welsh worship is led by lay people since they have not had a Welsh speaking pastor in twenty years. One of the enthusiastic members spoke to us from the Old Chapel pulpit and then from the New Chapel pulpit. (They don’t look much different.) We got some idea about the beliefs and practices at the Chapel when we heard of this year’s conflict when St. David’s Day fell on a Sunday. Usually, there are festive teas and celebrations on David’s Day, but not this year because “you have to keep the Lord’s Day holy.” They celebrated the feast a day early instead.

Next we moved quickly through an historical museum in a former train station; documents were in Welsh, as was the butter squeezer pictured. Then we drove to Dolavon for lunch in a former grain mill. The homemade pasta was absolutely atrocious, its texture being like toothpaste and the “meat sauce” being hunks of tough gristly beef. The wine was good.

In a burst of odd excursion planning, we were next off to a Welsh tearoom in Trelew, where we had our tea and many many cakes and scones and sandwiches. At the end, a Welsh choir sang hymns in Welsh and Spanish. Ah yes, we remembered that we were actually in Argentina.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:51 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)



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In Montevideo, Uruguay, folks say the name of their country something like “your-way.” The Your-wayans are wonderful. The country is progressive, beautiful and has a healthy economy. The tower of the legislative office building is held up by twenty-four (granite) women! Palacio Salvo fascinates. We visited the central market (terribly upscale), the Presidential Museum (the memorabilia of another country’s Presidents aren’t terribly fascinating), many monuments to national heroes, and a famous bar restaurant called Facal. After lunch, we joined a group of about twenty folks gathered on the sidewalk to watch street tango. After “Don Juan” whirled his partner around, he looked to the audience and held out his hands. One of our group from the Whisper joined him to dance. She was amazingly talented (and surprise – a professional tango dancer from Argentina) and delighted everyone but Don’s original partner. Finally, we trooped through the Carnaval Museum (costumes, costumes, costumes) and the Port Market. We are really looking forward to the two sea days ahead. But last night our suite was filled with sacks of parkas, boots, etc. and the lecture schedule today is filled with things like “Intro to Expeditions” so we imagine our attention will shift from empanadas to ice bergs.

Posted by HopeEakins 04:28 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)


San Isidro

sunny 82 °F


Our last foray into the wonders of Buenos Aires was a visit to San Isidro. This suburb is about 20 miles north of the city, and is lovely. Apparently it burgeoned in the late 19th century when yellow fever devastated Buenos Aires and those who could moved out of the crowded city. After the excitement and density of BA, the simplicity and charm of San Isidro is restful. The center is an historic area with cobbled streets and old single-story houses. Traffic slows down because the cobbles (having arrived as ship’s ballast) keep the roads rutted enough to stress the benefits of slowing down. We visited a lovely colonial house now used as a local library and were awed by the fountain and tiles in its entry and the garden overlooking the river.

At the neo-gothic San Isidro Cathedral we were surprised both by its grandeur and its simplicity. Jesus hangs alone without any golden cherubs flying around him; his outstretched arms seem a sure declaration that he has come for us.

After a visit to the Fruit Market (amazing) we took a boat trip through the Tigre Delta islands of the Río de la Plata (called the River Plate by guides for Americans). The lagoons and channels surround hundreds of houses, social clubs, and resorts, many of which are lovely. There is no transportation throughout the delta save for boats, so there are school bus boats (21 schools), supermarket boats (that bring bottled water, small appliances, meat and milk), an ambulance boat, etc. People sit on their docks and chat and call to each other and wave to us, but travel from one place to another must be by water – you can’t walk or drive. There is no fresh water except for the collected rain, so all drinking water must be brought by boat.

Finally, we had a late lunch and strolled by shops. One of them had a doll house with an internal elevator!

Posted by HopeEakins 11:35 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)



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Exhausted or at least bushed after our long days trip through the city, we were off to a Tango Show. Now tangoing is much more complicated than we thought. There is tango dancing, tango lessons (a sort of social phenomenon where the same folks take lessons and practice with each other in a sort of club like arrangement), and tango shows. The women fling their legs back and forth only at the shows (it is considered rude to the other dancers if they are not executing a professional stage act).

So off we went at 8 pm (night life in BA really happens in the night) to Rojo Tango in a small sort of bar theatre in a lovely hotel. Drinks first, then dinner (beef!) at 9 pm, and the show at 10. The band played; the dancers wove their way around the bar to the stage and both kept it up until 11:45. There were no intermissions, no breaks between acts, no pauses. The music and dancing were good, but you can likely tell from Bill’s body language that there was more energy on the stage than off it.

We returned to the ship tomorrow.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:29 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)