¡Feliz cumpleaños!

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Birthdays are always exciting (so much so that I usually try to claim an entire birthday week to celebrate!) but this year, being several continents away from home lent an extra-special air to each of our birthdays.

November 03: ¡Feliz cumple JOSUÉ!
Josh’s birthday took place in Antarctica.

I feel like little more needs to be said about why it was amazing.

However! While any birthday (/any day at all) spent in Antarctica is guaranteed to be absolutely incredible and unique and mind-blowing, Josh’s birthday managed to be even more eventful than expected. His birthday celebration actually started on November 01 (two days before his actual birthday), when all the lights went off in the dining room and Hector the chef walked in carrying a blazing cake and singing happy birthday.

My first reaction was one of panic – I had been planning to talk to the kitchen the next day to see if they could arrange a special dessert or at least find a candle to stick in Josh’s dinner. Now, someone had beaten me to it… and they were two days early!

Josh’s reaction was one of bemusement – it wasn’t even his birthday, but everyone was urging him to blow the candles out, so he did.

“¡Feliz cumpleaños, Stefan!” beamed Hector.

“Stefan?” questioned a startled Josh.

“Um… It’s actually my birthday,” said a confused voice from the other corner of the dining room.

What are the odds of two twenty-something, shaggy-headed guys wearing white toques, with birthdays two days apart, both being on the same boat to Antarctica? Apparently once you’re in Antarctica, anything is possible! 🙂

We had to spend the next two days trying to convince people who jokingly wished Josh a happy birthday that his birthday really was coming up! Josh’s actual birthday was spent cruising fields of icebergs in the zodiacs and exploring Neko Harbour, home to an old emergency supply hut that is now overrun by a colony of curious Gentoo penguins.

Zodiac exploration:
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Our snow penguin:
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Gentoo penguins:
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That evening, we were eating dinner when, surprise! The lights went out and there was Hector, bearing another cake, this one, finally, with Josh’s name written on it!
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December 05: ¡Feliz cumple SARA!
When we were trying to plan our trip to Antarctica, we had two possibilities: we could either plan to celebrate Josh’s birthday in the white continent, or mine. We agreed that the November trip worked better… But I warned Josh that the standard was now set pretty high for my birthday! 😛

As always, my amazing husband did not disappoint! I was woken up at 6am (it was still a workday, sigh!) on the morning of my 24th birthday by Switchfoot’s “24” playing in the tent, which was decorated with streamers and balloons. As it happened, both our hosts had to go to town for the morning, so we had the house to ourselves as we worked, meaning that after weeks of very fun but unfamiliar Argentine punk music, we finally got to play U2 at full volume! Having a house to ourselves for the morning was maybe the best present I could have asked for: I absolutely loved our hosts, but you don’t realize how much you appreciate being able cook for yourself until you haven’t had your own kitchen for three months! My 24th birthday marked the occasion of me making my first mate, as well as cooking my first meal over a wood-stove (risotto – needs tweaking, but wasn’t too bad!)

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When our hosts returned home, I showed them Josh’s present to me, which was a pair of beautiful Mapuche earrings handmade by one of our host’s friends. But my birthday surprises still weren’t done: our host then gave me a necklace she had designed and made for me. It turned out Josh had gone to buy a necklace from her for my birthday, but she was already planning to make one for me specially, so she told him to go find something else! 🙂

Beautiful jewelry and kittens… What better birthday presents could there be?!
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We then saw our other host dragging a huge pile of firewood to the back of the house, which then was transformed into a huge roaring bonfire, which soon became a huge asado of Patagonico corderito (“lamb from Patagonia” aka world famous BBQ), which we had watched him slaughter the day before. For my birthday dinner, they cooked the lomo (tenderloin), which is ¡el parte más rico del animal! (the most delicious part of the animal!) We stood around eating lomo with our fingers until it grew dark, at which point our host brought out the nuez y dulce de leche cake she had baked for me.

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For lack of a candle, they had me blow out the burning end of a massive piece of firewood. Around 3am, we all finally stumbled off to bed.

It definitely wasn’t the same as celebrating at home, and all our lovely family and friends were definitely missed. But our birthdays this year were definitely very happy! 😀

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