I got fried today. Toasted, roasted and turned on a spit. Or at least my face
did. For a team of caucasians who haven’t seen the sun for six months, and,
when they have, have had every inch of flesh covered, I didn’t think we were
that pasty. Before today. Now, as I glance in the mirror on my way to the shower,
I see black hair (freshly dyed, it was faded orange yesterday) above a bright
red face outlining dazzling white panda eyes. From my chin down again, luminous
yellow-white. Another example of how few comparisons and benchmarks we have
here. There is no perspective.
I visited the penguins again today, thousands of them cooing and trilling,
so many that an entire ice cliff was grey with their shadow. The same feeling
though: I have no perspective. The first time I saw an Emperor I was over-awed
by its majesty. Now, as my friend so succinctly put it, visiting them is like
going to the park to feed the ducks. Very pleasant – but surely there’s
something not right?!
Another thing that made me laugh was the queue that formed behind our backpacks
while we walked among them. The abseil access point is perhaps 800m from the
main gaggle of penguins but there is always a small welcoming party that comes
to meet us. Usually a handful of adolescents sliding on their bellies. Once
we’ve reached the sea ice, they then often wander back to the crowd with us.
Last time, I remember just one stayed behind near the bottom of the rope. He
had obviously led the group out there and not realised that the rest had lost
interest and wandered back. Not to worrry; they picked him up again when they
escorted us back an hour or two later. [In this aspect I feel a strong affinity
with penguins,- my attention span is now so short and distraction by shiny things
so compelling that it has pretty much become part of my persona here. Hmm, I
must tell you about melt-tank someday.]
Anyway, you can see for yourself the line that had formed by the time we returned.
They really are sheep. Metaphorically… though I do like the idea of furry
penguins that bleat. The reason why they find Halley every year is because they
follow our 18km drum-line from the coast thinking each next drum might be a
relative. I believe this entirely now.
hey rhian!! this one must be hot off the press! or maybe i should say cold…WOW, i am totally gobsmacked at those images!! those penguins are HILARIOUS, i think i would pee my pants to see them. and that rogue adelie…it is so cute! it looks like a crazy circus, in all.
speaking of crazy, i’m here late again trying to data crunch for an abstract deadline on wed, but i thought i’d visit antarctica for a bit while i eat enough to remain conscious. but i’ll email you soon!
So the N9 drumline is a way to catch wayward people if they get lost? Just walk inland, and then to your right when you hit the ropes, to get back to base?
Just catching up on your blog. Fantastic stuff. Especially loving the pics. I love hearing about all the light you have. It’s depressingly dark here at 5:30.
We’re all good. Andrew’s on his last official day of parental leave. Madly trying to finish building a shed before the snow flies.
Thinking about you lots.
glad you liked the map, Stefan, it was in response to your earlier query. The N9 drumline leads to a place where there is sometimes open water if the ship can’t get access to us at the ‘gin bottle’ creeks. It’s 55km away however so we really, really, really don’t want to operate Relief from there as it takes the best part of a week on two 12-hour shifts even when the ship comes into Creek 2! As for ropes, I wish,- the drums are a few hundred metres apart and in bad weather would still be easy to miss.
See you soon!
How charming and beautiful. Those little guys have a lot to say, don’t they?
MERRY XMAS FROM RHIAN & THE PENGUINS For those who don’t know, Rhian Salmon has been blogging from the British Antarctic Survey the last year. Recently, she was stunned to see a cruise ship full of touists pull up!…
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