Tag Archives: chile

Antarctica: The Research

That little red dot in the bottom right hand corner? That’s a hut.

Antarctica dwarfs all human activity. Even a Frank Lloyd Wright, in place of that little red shack, doesn’t stand a chance against these towers of ice and snow. And this might be the reason why marine biologists, naturalists, geologists, penguin researchers and explorers love Antarctica more than Heidi Montag loves plastic surgery.


December 22, 2006: The greatest igneous rock your 7th grade science teacher never showed you is actually a landmass, and a geologist's dream.


Our expedition offered a little of everything. Dennis, a marine biologist, reported his findings in videos and photos every day after scuba diving to the bottom of the ocean. Jason Kelley, a geologist and naturalist, explained how the results of volcanic activity can be seen most clearly in Antarctica, where land is relatively unchanged since its formation because of a lack of vegetation.

Mike Polito, one of the many penguin researchers and a grad student at the time, taught me how to count penguins (with a counter) and use the results to track each species’ migration patterns.

Sometimes counting penguins is hard…

…and sometimes it’s too easy.

On the other end of the spectrum is Soames Summerhays, a National Geographic IMAX documentary filmmaker, who was filming a documentary on the continent and its wildlife. (As far as I am aware, it has not yet been released.) The two of us co-wrote a daily expedition report (DER) for the National Geographic ship logs about our day in Brown Bluff.

Research bases

Research bases became a way for countries to lay claim over different areas of Antarctica in the 1800s and 1900s. Chile, Argentina and Great Britain fought for over a century over borders in Patagonia and on the continent, and all still lay claim to overlapping territories. But who’s counting now, when neither Chile nor Argentina have active research bases in Antarctica?


International graffiti on old silos near the 1920's-era Chilean base


As there is no one able to haul off huge metal silos (not to mention nowhere to recycle them), this abandoned 1920’s-era Chilean research station is left to rust and wear in the elements.


An abandoned boat in the volcanic crater


This once-thriving Chilean base sits in the bed of a volcanic crater. The choice was ideal because the sea is calm, the rocks break the wind, and icebergs and debris don’t generally make it that far.

Port Lockroy

The Chileans and Argentinians don’t have research bases, but the British do! Port Lockroy is an active British research station on an island in the Antarctic Peninsula, and it’s the only active base left on the continent.


Researchers bunk in this room at Port Lockroy.


The base has been declared a historical monument and is funded entirely by people like me who bought dozens of penguin keychains and Antarctica postcards in the gift shop. It’s run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, a charity set up in 1993 to restore the station’s buildings and preserve human history in the Antarctic.


Beware the strong winds! (They blew a little kid right off this entrance ramp to Port Lockroy and into a patch of nesting penguins to left, below the frame. Oops.)


For more of what’s going on now at Port Lockroy, check out the UKAHT’s Port Lockroy Diaries, written by researchers and logged on the site as far back as 2003. Read the most recent Port Lockroy entry to find out how researchers prep for four months at the south pole. Now how do we get jobs on that base…

Tara for TKGO

Drinking Wine Like Grown-Ups

For the past couple of months, we’ve been touring the world of wine. We signed up for the weekly, introductory Wine Appreciation “mini course” at Northwestern University’s student center to start drinking wine like adults instead of college kids. Below is a regional run-through of what we learned, as well as descriptions of some of our favorite bottles, most of which cost under $15. This is by no means an exhaustive tour, but you have to start somewhere!

The Basics

  • Hold the glass by the stem so your hand doesn’t warm the wine.
  • White wines in this price range are better when younger (more recently bottled).
  • The term “estate bottled” means the grapes are grown and bottled by the same vineyard. This ensures quality.
  • Reserve (or reserva) means the producers kept it back a year or so to age before distributing it. Drink them right away; there’s no need for extra aging.
  • Gewurztraminer is the current trendy choice in white wine. It’s hearty and aromatic, and is one of the rare few that goes well with Asian cuisines (BYOB, anyone?).


Sparkling and dessert wines at Wine Appreciation, by Karina for TKGO


United States: West Coast
Chardonnay is the most popular grape in America. Pinot noir originated in Burgundy, France, but also grows well in Santa Barbara.
  • Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2008
  • Bonterra Mendocino County 2008
  • Turn Four Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Washington
You won’t be able to discern the varietal (or type of grape) from the label, which is a departure from wine labeling in the rest of the world. What’s important in France is where the grapes grew and the wine was bottled. French people themselves tend to drink wines from the Loire Valley.
  • Muscadet Henri Poiron 2008, Loire Valley
  • Cotes du Rhone Jean-Luc Colombo 2007
South America
Chilean and Argentine wines are famously delicious and easy on the pocketbook. Malbec is a varietal used in blends all over the world, but Argentina is the only producer to bottle it alone.
  • Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Reserve, Maipo Valley, Chile
  • Terrazas Malbec, 2008 Argentina
Australia and New Zealand
Chiraz is the national grape of Australia. Though rieslings are often German, New Zealand makes some rieslings to reckon with.
  • Yard Dog White Blend 2008 Australia
Sparkling/Dessert Wines:
Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. Anything fizzy made elsewhere is just called sparkling wine. In order from dry to sweetest, the classifications are brut nature, brut, extra dry, sec/dry, demi-sec and doux. Brut is most common, and it’s typically 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay.
  • Method Champenoise Gruet Blanc de Noirs
  • Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

Grab some bottles and start tasting. Cheers!

Tara and Karina for TKGO

Real-Life Candyland

Update: The Clark Street Dulcelandia is now closed, but other locations around Chicago are still selling sweets!

Happy Halloween! Earlier today we used the upcoming holiday as an excuse for a candy-related adventure and headed to Dulcelandia in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. “Dulcelandia” translates to “Candy Land,” and this Chicagoland chain was every bit a Mexican reincarnation of the whimsical board game. Actually, it was better: It included piñatas.


When we walked into the story, the woman working at the register (Mary was her name; we became friends) offered us a tray full of about eight types of small candies to try. (As if we hadn’t already expected to love this place, but this solidified it.) All of the candy in the story is imported, the majority from Mexico and some from Colombia. The piñatas, which hung from every inch of the ceiling and covered the floor in the front of the store, also are made in Mexico and shipped to Chicago. We took some time investigating the candy selection ourselves before asking Mary to point us toward the most popular—and craziest—candies. Lollipops and anything chile-flavored, especially chile-flavored lollipops, apparently are the bestsellers. We picked up a few “pollo asado” lollipops, which were spicy and shaped like whole chickens (seriously!) as well as some mango and watermelon suckers coated in chile, of course.


Some of our other favorite finds (well, Mary helped us find them) were Tomy sucking candies, which are peanut-flavored and reminiscent of Werther’s, chewy watermelon-flavored candies with a kick of chile, decorated sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos and “dulces de camote,” which are slices of candied sweet potato. Every time Mary noticed a certain candy intrigued us, she’d grab a piece, rip off the wrapper and say, “Here, try it!” We thank the culture of Mexican hospitality for that generosity. But seriously, why aren’t all candy stores so encouraging?

Naturally, we wanted to stay in Dulcelandia forever. Once we finally forced ourselves to leave, we gorged on our full-bag purchases (each of us only spent about $5 for hordes of delicious imported candy!) the whole way back to Evanston. We went from sugar high to sugar coma before we even saw Northwestern’s campus. Looks like we haven’t learned since we were five years old.


See for yourself: We visited the Dulcelandia at 6718 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60626. Look here for more locations. All photos by Tara and Karina.

Tara and Karina for TKGO