Hotel Concordia

In: Antarctica

“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

Hotel California – Eagles (1977)

350 nights. One bed (well, actually two since I switched rooms), and only the mattress on the floor since the French/Italian bed size is exactly my Dutch 190cm height. It’s not ideal.

350 nights. Only one view, and just a single sunset left to see. It feels like the polar night just ended, yet we are already entering the season of around the clock sun. Halfway through the winter I moved from room 2 to room 12 to avoid my noisy neighbor. So it’s now my responsibility to set up my old room for the summer crew.

Cleaning is a daily duty, but as I clean my old room, I am reminded that in only a few days the first plane will arrive. After so many nights with just the 12 person overwinter crew, it’s hard to imagine that in less than three weeks we will have 65 people back in Concordia. 53 more faces, all in the space that we have made into our home. Our prison.

Now it’s Hotel Concordia. As I finish up making the bed, the base for the first time feels a bit empty. It’s strange. Back in my room, I prepare my bag for the overland transport and think of what to take with me on my flight home. I listen to the Eagles and wander off deep in reflection about all the days already spent in this frozen place.

Why? So many times I asked myself that question, and now it seems not to matter as much anymore. In only 6 weeks the whole world opens back up for me, and within two months I can be back home.

“You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Will Hotel Concordia really let me go? The post mission MRI scan when I leave Antarctica will tell me what a year in hypoxia did to my brain, but what about my mind?

Only two more months to go to find out…


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