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Glaciers and Goodbyes
Patagonian Paradise

Exploring ChileExploring Chile (Kristen Kidder)
Our second -- and, sadly, last -- full day on the ship passes with ease. Cory and I are not scheduled to board the Zodiac boats for our tour through the Alacalufe Fjord until later in the afternoon, so we spend a blissful few post-breakfast hours on deck reading and drinking Bloody Marys. Although we've only been aboard the Via Australis for 36 hours, we've become friendly with many of the passengers and it's so nice to be among smiling faces as we relax and completely sink into vacation mode.

We decided to dress warmly for this Zodiac trip, and I am grateful for every layer as the boat navigates around the Fjord and approaches the beautiful Piloto Glacier. As luck would have it, we're on the Zodiac with some of my favorite ship passengers: an older, fun-loving Austrian couple and a group of German women who live in Minnesota and take annual trips together around the world. Our driver is even my favorite staff member, Pablo, from yesterday's beaver trip. The stage is set for a truly enjoyable excursion.

I'm not disappointed. Navigating the Zodiac through the Fjord, surrounded by electric blue glacier and floating ice bergs, is one of the most surreal experiences of the trip so far. The air is crisp and heavy, and the only sounds come from periodic crackling of ice and the splash they make as splinters plunge into the ocean. Everyone on the boat is joyful and we take turns posing in front of the glacier. It is funny how, since we're only together for a short time, boat passengers become known to one another by our nationalities instead of our names. Cory and I are called simply ''cute New York couple'' by many of the passengers, a nickname that never fails to make me chuckle. It's the moniker they're using now, as we pose in front of the glacier. ''Kiss, cute New York couple! Kiss!'' And so we do.

Before we head back to the ship, I take a moment to offer a silent prayer of thanks to the universe for the beauty of this day, for the opportunity to be on this trip, for everything. The German women are doing the same, exclaiming in heavily-accented English that we are so lucky for this day, and that they will never, ever forget it. I couldn't agree more.

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