Thursday, December 28, 2006

Life on the Multanovskiy

A day on the Multanovskiy usually began with Martin, our sometimes overly-enthusiastic expedition leader from Sweden, awakening us on the intercom system around 6:00 AM to inform us that coffee would begin in thirty minutes and breakfast in an hour. And then he would let us know that there was a glorious bird flying near the ship and that we all should make our way to the bridge to see the bird.

It was really a strange way to wake up, but being the good yanqui, I usually felt compelled to hurry up and get dressed to see the bird that Martin was so excited about.

Meals were always an interesting time, as you never knew with whom you would end up eating. The other passengers were a pretty diverse lot in terms of nationality, and I remember some of my best dinners were spent conversing with Swedes, Australians, or Brits. This group consisted of hard-core travellers, so it was usually a lot of fun to hear stories of people's adventures throughout the world.

One thing you NEVER wanted to do on the ship was to ever piss off the Russians. They were sticklers for rules and would sometimes scold you if you did anything wrong. I developed a secret fear of one of the women who worked in the kitchen; she was furious with me one day when I asked for breakfast two or three minutes late. I never asked for any special favors again.

After breakfast, we would usually get ready for a landing or Zodiac cruise which were the times I enjoyed more than I can express. We left the ship two or three times a day, so it seemed we were always putting on or taking off our yellow parkas and snowpants. But having the ability to land was well worth the effort. We averaged about three landings a day.

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