I was just flipping through my notebook today and I just realised how radically different our daily environment is from what we are used to. Our everyday vocab includes words like Katabatic winds, Sexual Dimorphism, Layers layers layers, Disembarkation, Triple Bottom Line, Icebergs, Fur Seals, Gentoo Penguins, the southern cross….. which I’ll probably never use again either with such frequency. I also just realised these are words across so many different sectors all the way from geography to physics to astrology to biology and that is exactly how diverse the conversations are as you can imagine amongst educators, lawyers, consultants and leadership coaches discussing climate change and life!
It’s funny though I haven’t had Antarctica as the backdrop for any of my dreams yet. Maybe there is still time for these experiences to turn into long term memory. Also just being here feels like such a dream, that when I dream for real, that feels more familiar and closer to reality. So, I pretty much wake up to a dream everyday!
Today we visited the Peterman island, that has an old Argentine refugee post. This place is rife with history. In 1908, there was a ship from the french expedition that was docked ashore the bay for two winters and we were in search of a rock which bore the initials ‘PP’ of the captain of that ship. This was when we were on the zodiac while we were surrounded by a waddle of penguins swimming in and out of water and jumping on shore. As soon as we stepped off we were greeted by a huge penguin colony, the largest I’ve seen yet. Penguins have got to be the goofiest creatures alive! They are not designed to walk as every step they take they either slip, fall, slide, crash or waddle their way through in the cutest way possible! The program for the day was free for us to reflect and explore as we are advancing through our leadership modules. Most penguins were moulting to prepare for winter, but some were just walking about up to people and playing with our shoes, for the naturally curious creatures they are.
I was on the same zodiac with a group of us who are being filmed for an MTV Production, along with Rob. It was super interesting to share that ride with Rob as he was testing out equipment for NASA right as we spoke on the Zodiac, which involved analysing his urine sample to keep a check on this body vitals. How cool is that? Most of all he was travelling with a bag that he said he also carried on the expedition to the south pole 30 years ago. Talk about not succumbing to fast fashion! Rob is also known for his handy bike that he travels which, from a teammates account, which can fit into the dicky of a car (when she went to pick him up from the airport). These fun facts about Robert Swan make you think about your own actions as Robert Swan does not only practice what he preaches by converting his thoughts into action but also sets an example for our generation with his incredible fitness levels. I also had some one-on-ones with Rob about possibly setting up an Ebase once I go back. He was extremely supportive, (you know Rob, he never says no) but the only prerequisite he posed is that it has to be sustainable in every possible way and not a one time project. I understand the commitment that comes with starting something of your own. But the concept of Ebase and setting up one has been my long standing dream even from before I knew there existed an Ebase and got to work with one.
While I was filming with Mark I found myself distracted by Becky. Now, Becky is known to be the happiest girl on Ship. You’d know why if you caught her around Orcas. Actually, you can, right here. So here I was, doing a very serious recording about climate change and right while I was talking into the camera, Becky starts rolling in the snow with Penguins! Everyone stopped to watch because obviously we were intrigued by this tiny girl’s actions. It almost looked like she was speaking to the penguins and they were speaking back with their actions. It was beautiful. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a Penguin Whisperer amongst us!
Today was a cold day. We spent the afternoon cruising through the Lamiere channel back on the zodiacs, following the ship. It was magical. We were surrounded by so much ice- it just didn’t feel real. For me personally, today was extra cold, maybe because all that cruising got us wet. The cold cut through my layers of clothing and it felt like even the glove warmer in my glove was off on a vacation. The exploring lasted for about 2.5 hours and I dare say, this was the first time I wished it was over sooner. Being surrounded by all that magnificence of clear ice, glaciers, and seals, is what made me bear the cold but anyone who knows me knows about my zero-threshold for cold places. I absolutely detest cold, yet I find myself inexplicably signing up for projects that involve extremely low temperatures. I attribute this inkling to my innate sense of adventure, that I have inherited from my grandfather. Looking back at the time I climbed the 2nd highest active volcano, Cotopaxi at 15,300ft and plunged into the freezing cold aquamarine blue waters of a mineral volcanic crater, Quilotaova at 12841ft, in the Latin American Andes or lived in 3 of the highest cities in the world (Quito, Ecuador at 9,350ft; Bogota, Colombia at 8,660ft; Leh, India at 11,600ft); I wasn’t supposed to do any of them. It just happened that way! And so did Antarctica….
Anyway, by the end, it was all worth it. Nothing a nice hot shower and hot chocolate couldn’t fix. 🙂
Post dinner we had a presentation, that Rohan, Chandrika and I were to give with zero practice of giving it together, which went off rather well. It was about the Global Himaliyan Expedition and my bit more particularly was about the Ebase where I talked about my experience as a fellow and the fellowship. Rob often speaks highly of Paras, and everyone in the room today understood why. Paras left Antarctica so inspired that he quit his plush corporate job and started the Ebase and a successful social business solar electrifying the Rural Himalayas. That is the dream for most of us, when we go back, and his story gave us hope.