Saturday, April 13, 2019
South American Diary, #6: Pining for the fjords
"I've got to send some emails," Michael said, pushing away from our first breakfast on the ship.
"I think I'll go up top and look around," I said. The RCGS Resolute is a large vessel, with a special steel reinforced hull to travel through ice-laden waters. It was the fourth passenger ship to traverse the North Passage, with the help of a Canadian Navy ice breaker. Yet it has a formal dining room on the fourth floor. I worked my way forward, to the open deck above Deck 7.
A fjord is a long, narrow waterway created by a glacier. Those words seem dry on the page. Honestly, prior to coming to Chile, the word "fjord" made me think of just one thing: the Monty Python Parrot Sketch.
"It's gotta be pining for the fjords..."
"'Pining for the fjords?!' What kind of talk is that?"
But standing there, surprised, despite all the foreshadowing that should have tipped me off long before, to find myself in a fjord.... aboard a ship, atop a ship, watching the fjord flow toward me, past me, to the left and right, behind me. Fjord everywhere I looked.
Dawn had just come, no sun, but a lightening blue-grey sky the color of stainless steel. The snapping wind ruffled my clothing. The mountains were deep green to black, reflecting in the water, slashed with silver ripples, dappled with chunks of ice. Words must inevitably fail me here, but I was overcome by the enwrapping view, the overwhelming 360 degree expanse of mountains, rounded and jagged, snowcapped and bare, looming so close and far off. For a moment it seemed the ship was sailing directly into a mountain range; then, to the right, a passage emerged between two peaks.
I felt so ... stupid. Here I am at home, working every day, in my little office with with the wide red pine floorboards I'm so fond of. Satisfied with that. When just a couple of airplane rides and a short sail away was this.
It was all too much. I turned my head, pressed the fingers of my left hand against my cheek and my palm tight against my mouth, sobbing.
Regaining myself, I turned and bolted below decks, hammering on Michael's door as if the ship were sinking. He beckoned me in.
"Screw the email!" I said. "Follow me!"
I practically dragged him up four flights of stairs.
"Look at this!" I cried, gesturing all around, to the sky, the mountains, the water. "Look at this!!!"
And it was only the first morning of the first day.