Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Antarctica- Part 2- First Landing
I would like to begin by saying that I really believe Antarctica to be one of the most beautiful places on earth- that said- I would not put our first stop as one of the most beautiful places in Antarctica.
We crossed the Drake passage and lucked out. This is one of the stormiest places on earth. Luckily we didn't encounter a storm. The waves rolled the entire time we were crossing and because we were in a smaller boat we did feel every wave. We finally began to spot iceburgs. The day we arrived it was very overcast with a mixture of rain and snow. The iceburgs look very different in the sun.
Here is a picture of Deception Island from our ship. Deception Island is an active volcano which is why the island is all black.
Every morning we would begin the same ritual. We would get up put on all of our warm clothes and wait for them to call us ashore. Antarctica will only allow 100 people ashore in one place at one time. When we are called we go down to the bottom of the ship into a room where we put on our boots.
Here is a picture of all of us ready to go out for the first time. We were all so excited because we were finally finishing a goal of stepping on all 7 continents.
After we go outside we climb down some stairs onto these boats. These boats hold 8 people and they are running people back and forth to our ship. They can go pretty fast.
The first thing I noticed when we got to Deception Island is of course all of the garbage that has been left behind. When Antarctica was first being discovered many people were leaving behind all sorts of stuff. Each country has left behind their own garbage dumb. Some people are trying to clean it up but it is taking some time.
Deception Island used to be a a factory for the whalers remains. When people first were whaling their ships could not take care of the whales remains so they would drop off all the items they didn't need from the whale to these factories. They would then take care of the remains. It wasn't too long before they built whaler ships big enough to handle every part of the whale. When this happened the factory was abanded.
It was a joke the entire time we were at Deception Island that we were walking on the moon. There was an eerie quiet about the area. Even though I have been away from people before I have never been anywhere where there are no people or wildlife. The island is very dark covered in garbage and whale bones.
I can not imagine living here in this desolute area. The houses couldn't have kept the residents very warm. It would have been a very difficult life.
I can not imagine dying here either. We would find crosses all over Antarctica. Because of the harsh climate and no medical equipment many people would die.
But on a lighter note- I could have died after what we did next. Yes- I feel like I am part of the Polar Bear club! I did go swimming in Antarctica. It was freezing. Here is Emily (my sister-in-law) and I running out of the water. Spencer (my brother) had just come out of the water and was laughing at us. The worst part was that I couldn't breathe!!! It took every ounce of my strength to keep running into the water until I ducked under. The only way you could get the certificate from the ship for swimming in Antarctica was if the water went up to your neck- I went in twice and the second time I actually went under water. That was dumb! BRRRRR!!!!!!!!
Here is a picture of Lindsay and I right after our swim and before we left Deception Island. Let's just say that went I got back on the ship I had one of the best hot showers I have ever had!
Our next stop is where we first encounter penguins. I will try to post those tomorrow!