Goan to Antarctica....

Goan scientist Helga do Rosario Gomes is en route to the icy continent, and is keeping her blog of the journey...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Penguins and frogs

Photo: Partying with the penguins.

The brightest of sunshine prevailed on the day of the party.

A gangplank was lowered for us to set foot on the ice. We usually use the rope ladder which doesn't make for a dignified exit from the ship. Dinner was still in the galley.

The Raytheon techs demarcated one bad zone where the ice was thin by pouring some red drink around it! The Philippine crew brought out their karaoke machine with some real hot Philippine dance music. Last year I saw these guys in action - they can dance!

Photo: Ship parked in ice.

The much coveted beer was set up in the ice as was some real potent drink called Pisco from Chile. But as we disembarked everyone except a few diehard alcohol lovers lost interest in the much awaited chance to drink. For there almost within touching distance was a huge group of Emperor penguins watching us curiously.

They were probably going - What are these things? Members of a cult devoted to the worship of oranges?

We all wear special orange float jackets when we are outside and our ship is orange. Like the alcohol rule, the Marine Mammals Act at least with respect to penguins can be pretty convoluted. You can't touch a penguin nor can you go towards a penguin with even the intent to touch it. But a penguin that is protected but not governed by any treaty can walk towards you and if you are very lucky, bestow a peck on you.

Photo: Charming the Emperors.

Only researchers working with penguins have the permission to touch them. For the rest of the night the Emperors toyed with our hearts coming real close to us while we lay immobile and freezing on the ice, and just when we thought we would wake up as princes/princesses they would lose interest in us and walk away.

No one got a kiss - we all returned to the boat like the frogs we were.


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