Sleepless in the South

In: Antarctica

‘Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental.’

Annie Reed – Sleepless in Seattle – 1993

Breakfast with 57 people, a little static spark almost every time I touch a doorknob, Ski-doo training, being out of breath after walking up only two stairs, a  frozen moustache, all weird experiences that I never expected to have and I’m just two weeks into living in this crazy white world.

How did I end up here? Destiny? Fate? Or was it simply the last Basler plane that brought me here from Mario Zuchelli station?

As my first nights of 6hr of sleep finally arrive, after so many sleepless nights as my body slowly adapted to the hypoxia, it’s now time for my mind to start adjusting as well. There is a lot to take in and get used in this new environment. To start there is a set daily routine, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much structure in my life! From 7 to 8am it’s breakfast time, lunch is served at noon and the end of my working day is set with dinner at 7pm. The structure is all for good reason though, the summer season is a busy time in Antarctica. Up to 70 people will be living and working in and around Concordia Station all at the same time. Since the station was built with just 16 bedrooms, a summer camp is opened to provide a bed for all the summer visitors. It also means that for the next two months, I’ll have a roomie and it seems that snoring is part of the summer package as well…

So when I first stepped out of my plane on arrival here, my beard froze within a single minute! The temperature was -41.4 with a windchill of -55. As the summer proceeds the temperature will rise and stretch the beard-freezing time to about 10 minutes at least! The process of suiting up to go out (polar suit, boots on, gloves, hat, ski glasses and putting outer gloves on) is getting faster, and the sound of the snow under my boots is becoming more an more familiar. When my balaclava freezes, I just turn it around.

I’m getting in the groove and it’s only summer now, so 12 more months to fully contemplate how I ended up here..

Stats: Temperature -28.9 C. Windchill -38.5 C. 24 hours of daylight.

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