This is actually happening. I couldn’t stop thinking about the reality of my trip as I left behind my final exams, my friends & family, and boarded a plane in Columbus on Friday afternoon. I was really worried about the 14 hr flight to Sydney, but it was the most enjoyable flight I’ve ever had! The seats were very comfortable and new, and I sat next to this really cute couple from Australia. To top it all off, for some reason Qantus loves Woody Allen, as do I! They had Annie Hall, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love, and a French film called ParisManhattan which was ABOUT Woody Allen. I also watched Good Will Hunting, which is my all time favorite movie, and it helped me to transition to the idea of living so far away from home. The food was excellent (one of the best balsalmic dressings I’ve had, and they actually served us spinach!!! Not colorless iceberg lettuce), and the flight attendants were so friendly with their Aussie accents. They kept offering coffee (in French presses!) and tea, in addition to local wines. The safety video for Australia was centered on their cricket team, and it was amazingly corny. I have no jet lag, and I stretched extensively before the flight so my legs feel in top shape. It doesn’t hurt that I’m only 5’1, but I still had ample leg room.
We landed in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon, exactly 48 hours later due to the time change. One of the great things about travel to Antarctica is the chance to explore New Zealand. We have a 2 day layover in NZ so we can get our Antarctic gear. It’s also nice to have a break from flying. When we landed, I had trouble in customs, and my beloved hiking boots were taken because they had some seeds lodged deeply into the mesh. I was really sad, as I have a slightly irrational emotional attachment to them (they’ve been to Iceland, Alaska x3, field camp in Utah, and they’ve always kept my feet dry and comfortable). I got some new boots since then, but they surprisingly didn’t have a large collection in Christchurch (only 2 brands, but they will do the job). I also had luggage lost… but I’m sure they will relocate it by the time I get back to NZ in February. Once I finally got into the NZ air, I was elated. Everything is so green here!! The flowers are overflowing onto the streets and there are so many interesting types of trees. I’m planning to get a flora & fauna book so I can start learning more about them when I return in February.
We are staying at the Elms hotel, which is undergoing a lot of renovation due to the earthquake that happened last February. The quake has completely left its mark on the city, as it’s still rebuilding itself. Allie (a masters student in our research group that I have the good luck to travel with) and I got to our hotel after an interesting shuttle ride on the left side of the road. After we got to the hotel I took a much needed shower and put on the news… the top stories included knitting circles taking storm around the country, solar powered elementary schools, and a debate over whether or not PacMan and other older games belong in a museum. It’s definitely a different culture here.
The weather is beyond gorgeous, it’s breezy and in the low 20s (celcius, that is). If I had to describe CHC in one word, I would say that it’s green. After coming from an Ohio winter, I was overwhelmed with the amount of lush greenery everywhere here. It’s beautiful and healthy. Allie and I have also experienced the delicious fresh food and charming NZ hospitality wherever we have gone. We haven’t met too many people our age, as CHC is mostly older people and younger kids.
Yesterday we went to the Antarctic center to get our clothing and watch some training videos. We watched an 18 hour video about waste management, which informed us of possible legal prosecution if one fails to report a spill (no matter how small) within seconds of its occurrence. There’s also an extensive recycling and waste organizing program, which seems very efficient. The USAP produces 1.3 million pounds of waste each year, and 65% of it is successfully recycled. I was surprised to find a lack of recycling bins in NZ (I haven’t seen any, and I’ve even asked), as they are very concerned with their water usage. I’m excited to see how the recycling plan works in Antarctica, and I’m sure it will help transform my perspective on materials use.
I’m hoping to use this blog to document my thoughts as I experience Antarctica for the first time. I’m so privileged to be in the company of so many esteemed scientists, and I cannot wait to get down to the ice and start working.
People kept telling me I need a hip blogger name, so this is my best attempt.
Over and out,
Kelcium (like calcium)