Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Patagonia!

The cruise has positively flown by, and it's hard to believe that we're already 5 days into it. Every day is a constant flurry of activity, most of it involving either eating or drinking. I really need to get back to the gym or I think I'm going to break 200 lbs! There are also great lectures on the region covering history, indigenous peoples, geology, animals, and so forth. And then the evening entertainment has been fun as well and most nights we haven't gotten Walter to bed until after 11p.

Christmas Eve was a pretty tough day, as around 4a the ship headed into open ocean and we encountered 5 to 6 meter swells. Jie and Walter spent most of the morning on the sofa watching movies (he's seen Inside Out four times already!) and successfully avoiding getting seasick. Our travel agent did a great job getting us a room right in the center of the boat so the motion isn't nearly as bad in our room as it is elsewhere, including most of the dining and bar venues. Fortunately by 4p we were back in the fjords and everything smoothed out nicely. Last night we had a delicious dinner in the restaurant and then attended the "Welcome to the Quest, Santa Claus" musical show, which was pretty entertaining and funny. Walter enjoyed the show and I think really wanted that particular Santa to be real (he knows there are many fake Santas and only one real one) so that he could get his Christmas present here in on the ship. Unfortunately, I don't think Santa lands on cruise ships and so left his present at our house in Austin. We'll find out in mid-January!

We woke up this morning and started the day with room service so that we could eat before viewing a glacier at 8a. I believe the glacier is a standard cruise ship stop down here, and we eased up into a small fjord to get a view of it. The glacier and the water in front were both impressive for the sheer amount of ice on display, it is apparently the largest body of ice in the Southern Hemisphere that is not located on Antarctica. As we departed from the glacier we were treated to another surprise, as who should come around the corner in a zodiac but Santa Claus! He circled the ship once and then boarded via ladder. Walter and another child on the boat, Aaron, got pictures with Santa and his helper. After this excitement, we joined the back half of a lecture on the geology of the area, and then while Jie and Walter went to a beginners Bridge class I attended a lecture about the elimination of the indigenous population by mercenaries hired by Argentina and Chile in the late 1800's after the discovery of gold in the Tierra Del Fuego. An inspiring Christmas morning discussion, let me tell you.

Aside from sleep deprivation and the related effects, we continue to have a wonderful time on the ship. Everyone has been so nice, especially to Walter. For example, last night as we were leaving the show a nice older couple approached us and said they would love to dine with us one night in the restaurant so they can spend some time with Walter. I think for a lot of people Walter reminds them of the grandchildren they aren't getting to see this Christmas, so he's getting a lot of positive attention. Seabourn has also done their part, as last night we were surprised in our room with a gift bag for Walter containing several stuffed animals. He can't wait to get back and show his new penguin animal to Koen!

We have a full day of cruising today as we head down to Punta Arenas, our final Chilean stop before we head into Argentina. Tonight is also a formal night, so we'll be decked out in formal wear again, which should be fun. We've got to make it an early night, though, as our excursion to Torres del Paines starts at the unholy hour of 6a tomorrow morning. After days of sleeping in until past 9, that's going to be a shock to the system.