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Read this first: This post is continued from “Antarctica Trip Notes Part 1: Buenos Aires+Planning And Positioning For The Adventure Of A Lifetime.”
…I was escorted from the gate to the tarmac as the agent questioned me on what contraband or items might be in my bag.
Racing through my mind was whether they had put 2 and 2 together and realized that the bag they told me couldn’t be checked to Ushuaia was found going to Ushuaia. I was not looking forward to spending time in an Argentine prison over this…
On the tarmac we walked to a station with an X-Ray machine where several of my checked bags were waiting. The officer there said that they were tipped off that there may be illegal items in my bag and asked me to open them.
We went through each item in the bag, and I showed him that nothing was against regulations for Ushuaia. The officer was reasonable and agreed that everything seemed in order, but the airline employee then said that Aerolineas has a policy that bags with liquids, even if frozen, must be completely sealed in plastic wrap. I offered to take the bag to have that done, but was told I would not be able to make the flight.
In the end, the only things that were taken away were several bottles of milk and a jug of oil that didn’t last for the 8th night of Chanuka in Ushuaia. Luckily though, the milk was spread among several bags and those made it through to Ushuaia just fine. Plus DDF member chff, was able to stop by a grocery store and pickup some bottles of milk during his connection in Buenos Aires.
I shudder to think what would have happened if all of our frozen food was confiscated…
The Aerolineas Austral E-195 was not in good shape. A member of our group sitting in front of me in business class had to swap seats as his seat was broken. There are no kosher meals available on domestic flights.
Some members of our group went to Luba, located in Chabad of Recolata, for lunch during their connection and said that the food was amazing:
The approach to Ushuaia is stunning:
3 planes pulled up when we landed, which overwhelmed the small baggage claim area with 1 belt. Customs randomly picks bags to search and about half of our bags were searched, though of course nothing problematic was found.
We checked in 18 bags, however only 16 bags arrived. Luckily none of the frozen bags were lost, as one of those bags had dried food and another had clothes.
DDF member chff wound up locating our lost baggage and brought it to the hotel when he arrived later in the day.
We booked 27 rooms for our group at the 5 star Los Cauquenes Resort as well as transfers from the airport to the hotel and our driver helped us with all of the baggage:
Rooms in the hotel are quaint and fit the area (known as Fin del mundo, or end of the world) well. It’s well worth paying to upgrade your view here as it’s amazing:
Working on the trip we have 2 caterers, a mashgiach, as well as Moishie Hersko and myself.
The kitchen staff got to work on preparing dinner, while Moishie and I prepared gift bags for each of our guests:
Each gift bag came with:
- A stuffed penguin wearing a yarmulka and tzitzes with our logo on it.
- A siddur with our logo on it, with the nusach that each guest had marked as their preferred nusach when they signed up.
- A Shabbos zemiros
- Chumash and slichos pamphlets.
- A Chanuka lighting pamphlet according to each guest’s nusach.
- An iKippah with our logo on it, available in 3 different sizes that may or may not have been chosen based on the nusach selected 😉
- A menorah with gelled oil and beeswax candles for lighting on the 8th night.
- A pack of chocolate Chanuka gelt
DDF member Moishebatchy flew my Mavic Pro to take some photos of our hotel:
Most guests arrived at the hotel at about 8pm and we went right into a scrumptious dinner of grilled chicken medallions prepared in advance by L’Orchidee Traiteur:
No Chanukah dinner would be complete without Latkes and donuts!
Moishebatchy, our resident mashgiach, gave one of the southernmost siyums in history:
Guests enjoyed the view from our dining room balcony:
We welcomed everyone to Ushuaia and marveled at what a diverse crowd we had. From Modern Orthodox to Litvish to Chassidish to Chabad and from guests in their 20s to their 70s, we really had all walks of Jewish life represented.
The expressions on everyone’s faces were similar. Many said they that had to pinch themselves to believe they were actually in Ushuaia, about to take the first organized kosher cruise to Antarctica!
Menora lighting with a view:
Capturing the scene from outside with a Mavic Pro:
Moishie whacked his head into the top of a doorway, but still managed to give photography lessons while delicately balancing a bag of ice on his head. These are apparently the things you need to worry about when you’re 6’8″.
After eating breakfast and taking a boxed lunch to go we checked out of the hotel and hired a taxi to drive us around Tierra del Fuego National Park.
The park is nice, though nothing spectacular. Truthfully, the view from our hotel room was probably nicer.
After taking a 3 hour tour of Tierra del Fuego we went into the city:
We checked in for the cruise at 1:15pm, but we had to go in an insufferably hot bus rather than just walk onto the cruise as they needed a head count. We just missed getting onto the first bus when it filled up just before us, so we got onto the 2nd bus. In the end though the 1st bus ran into mechanical issues and the 2nd bus got there much earlier.
When we boarded the boat we and heard several versions of bad news. Ushuaia had run out of fuel and all of the cruise ships were scrambling for solutions.
Some crew members said that we would need to stay docked in Ushuaia overnight until they could truck in more fuel. Other crew members said we would make a stop in Puerto Williams, Chile to refuel. Other crew members said we would go to Antarctica and fill up there. Other members said we would have to take a 2 day diversion to the Falkland Islands to get fuel.
Nobody could seem to get a straight answer, but it was clear that something unusual would need to be done.