Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Silent Vastness

When people go to Antarctica they do this for several reasons. Already the remoteness is tempting, we do have a tendency toward the rare, unaccessible; maybe it is a welcome escape from the dreaded mediocrity of life. We like exotic, be it tropical or - like in Antarctica - very, very cold.
Some want to go because this continent is missing in their collection, some just want to see penguins in their habitat, some love ice.
Whatever the motivation, each of us had a first idea of how it might look like before we went.
It is probably not too bold to say that every single traveller’s expectations were exceeded by far. This continent is beyond all imagination. If you let it happen, if you are open enough to let Antarctica get to you, you will be returning home as a different person.
Two great examples of the Mighty White we visited today. In the morning we went to Neko Harbour, a truly grand arena of glaciers that are coming down in a steep angle from all sides, looming over the beautiful bay, every now and then, under great noise, sending an avalanche downhill or a big chunk of iceberg into the water.
The penguins are absolutely unfazed by the splendor of this place and go about their daily wash right in front of our feet. They live high above the bay, using the only rocky outcrops they could find for their breeding activity. We wonder if they are aware of the incredible view…
FRAM acts one more time as the mothership for our activities, Cruising and Kayaking. Whereas the latter enjoy total silence at sea level, the cruisers span quite a distance and are even lucky towards the end, spotting a Minke Whale next to the boats.
From here we go one more time through the utterly scenic Errera Channel, to reach Cuvehrville, the island of peace. Well, that’s what we call it - once you climbed up the hill above the beach and look down onto the unlimited parade of icebergs, sporting all shades of blue and turquoise, blinded by the myriads of reflections of the sun on the water, you lose the intention to speak. It is like a friendly spell, everyone who arrives takes one look and stops talking. The eyes are resting on the enormous mountains in the background, the ears are only receiving what nature has to offer. And inexplicably relaxed we return to the landing site, either on foot all the way or - like many do - sliding on our backsides.
A particularly magnificent day comes to an end.