Exactly a month ago I was sailing in Antarctica. I’ve traveled a lot in my life and I’ve never come back from a trip with such … mixed anxiety. The good kind that is filled with excitement, but also the melancholy kind for I may never return. It is a fantasy island in some Greek mythology and just like any Odyssey it is a pain to get to. About 76 hours of flights, driving, and sailing but it’s been a bucket list item of mine since I was a teenager. Add on the fact that you must sail through the infamous waters of the Drake Passage, considered some of the most treacherous in the world. They call it either the Drake lake or the Drake shake and we experienced both. When it’s the shake the ship rolls over its swells forcing us to use the hallway railings to steady ourselves. For almost 24 hours I was bed ridden despite me having a Dramamine patch on behind my ear. However after 48 hours on sea with no land in site Antarctica suddenly appears like magic with its sexy white peaks on the horizon. Perfect. Untouched. Vulnerable. A landscape of crystals that seduces you in like sirens on the rock.
The sun doesn’t set in the summer except for maybe for an hour and even then it’s never fully dark. It travels in circles at a low angle highlighting different parts of its beauty 24 hours a day. When the clouds open up the sunrays bounce off the water so the icebergs are lit from within as if a dome light was placed inside its walls. Whales are feeding, penguins are hobbling around, and seals are basking in its soft glow. I kept thinking our world was not suppose to look this perfect and that if I just reached out my finger a ripping effect would appear for we were in an augmented reality. I’m not very religious and whatever your stance is on how we came to be, when you visit Antarctica you can’t help but feel a divine spirituality. A special treat from this celestial artist who tucked it away as best it could from instant human destruction. A visual secret of perfection for the 1% who are willing to seek out its beauty. The fact that this land is slowly disappearing and in 40 years may be gone all together (at least without its ice and animals) made the experience only that much more powerful, captivating and haunting.
The number one question I got when I told people I was going to Antarctica was “Why would you go there? It’ll be freezing and it’s just icebergs. ” I realize this question is based on us really not knowing much about this place. Some people thought I was going to see polar bears which is only up North. Others thought it was the Arctic. Many figured it was small and that we would stay at the research centers or hotels. Antarctica is bigger than the United States and there are no hotels. You stay on the ships or charter boats that take you there. During the summer its almost constant daylight and temperatures stay relatively warm, the average being 35 degrees. There are icebergs but there is also land and sometimes they are attached. There is variety and every day the view changes and the landscape is different. We simply don’t study Antarctica as a destination to visit like Paris or Rome and so therefore the desire of visiting may never enter our minds. However our relationship with ice has begun to change from “meh don’t worry about it” to “wow this is one of the most important controllers to the future of our planet” so I feel our curiosity and education on Antarctica (and the Arctic) is growing out of concern for what is happening to our planet. Through recent news and images it is now not only concern but awe on just how majestic these pole caps are and how rapidly it is changing (and disappearing). Visiting it changes you forever. I hope my photos below will entice you to see this special place for “life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” and I promise Antarctica will do just that.