Friday, January 4, 2008: Day 11
Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica - 1:21 pm EST
Posted from SOI World HQ
Early this morning the ship left Port Lockroy where they stayed last night after enjoying a delicious BBQ onboard the ship.
Instead of going to Cuverville Island, Geoff and the Education Team decided to go to Wilhelmina Bay. They were so astonished with what they saw and felt that they knew they had to wake up the students early!
The weather was breathtaking: beautiful blue skies, no wind and the sun beaming down upon glasslike water.Once up, all around the ship students could see snow-capped mountains, glaciers, icebergs and sea ice. Many were left speechless.
Cruising further into Wilhelmina Bay, the group spotted fast ice (ice attached to the shore) and decided to nudge the bow of the ship against it. After parking, the students and staff made their way from the ship to the sea ice and enjoyed the t-shirt temperatures by participating in some workshops and pondering where they were.
All enjoyed this novel opportunity on the ice by playing games in the snow and reflecting upon and sharing the personal relevance of their journies to date.
While describing their morning, two students struggled to find the words to express their emotions:
“It was hypnotizing waking up and seeing this view of so many white mountains and icebergs reflecting upon the water. It was perfect . . . the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever seen! This experience has left me speechless. I can’t believe it’s our last day in Antarctica. I wish we had more time here.”
Michal Rosenthal, student from Israel
“Antarctica is so fantastic. You can’t imagine the colours! The ice! . . . The ocean! It’s so incredible . . . There was a time when I didn’t pay much attention to my environment . . . the place I am in. This is changing. It’s difficult to express my feelings in words. Never in my life have I had a chance to experience such beautiful moments. Everything here is pure and peaceful. I love this place.”
Irene Shivaei, student from Iran
Posted by Brittany Pieters, student
Today had to be the best way to end our stay in Antarctica. We started off not knowing how the day was going to pan out. But we found a bay with no name where Geoff and David went out on the ice and tested to see if it was thick enough. Before that, the captain carefully decided that he would be willing to ram the Ushuaia into the ice. Most of us stood on the bow and watched the ship plough through like a huge snow shovel on a snow covered drive-way. After Geoff gave the ok, we all started boarding the zodiacs to go on the ice. Today we were literally students on ice, which was a very special occasion. Also the sun was out and the view of the glaciers, mountains, and icebergs was unfathomable. Once on the ice I had to head back to the ship to grab my sunglasses so I didn’t start to have snow blindness because of the brightness. On the ice we made a huge snowball. Michal and I also talked about our experiences on the trip with the camera man, Michel. We all came together and began to talk where David asked us the question “How has Antarctica changed you?”. We all sat in our own spot on the snow covered ice and pondered this for about 15-20 minutes. After that time we came together and shared our thoughts, which were very moving. What I took away was material things are really not as important as we think. In the culture of the world we view ourselves as the most powerful beings but really in truth, the earth is a mighty force and we need to protect it and respect it. Also, we need to take the time as people to step back and realize where we are and the beauty in nature. My advice, SLOW DOWN! Also, for our last zodiac ride we went around the bay where we were all day. Ian was our zodiac driver and we went all around exploring. At one point we stopped the engine and a group of chinstrap penguins came up and went under and around us. You could see how fast the penguins were going under the water because it was so clear. We took a lot of pictures of beautiful icebergs that had been weathered by the currents. When we got back it was hard for me to believe that today was our last day in Antarctica. Everything we have done has significantly impacted me inside and out. We start for home and all I can say is it is the end to a new beginning.
Miss everyone! See you soon.
Posted by Kayla Costello, student
For our last day in Antarctica, it sure was a good one! We started the day early and watched the ship sail through the Lemaire Chanel. It was so beautiful! I am going to miss the mountains and icebergs and penguins! There is nowhere else on earth like this.
But the next activity we did this morning was really special. The captain rammed the boat into sea ice and we were able to walk around on it! Watching the boat slam into the ice was really something! The chaperones went out first and made sure the ice was safe to walk on, which luckily it was. And then it was our turn to get to walk on the sea ice. Today, we really were “Students on Ice”. We got to run around and make snowmen, but the highlight of our landing was the time we were given to sit and reflect on our trip. We spread out all over the ice and were given 15 minutes to just think about all of the experiences we have had here, and the changes we have experienced. One thing I have realized is that the experiences and feelings we have had here are almost impossible to put into words. Sitting next to ice covered mountains that tower over you is just a humbling experience. Something happens when you stay in a place where time and possessions mean nothing. From the beginning of the trip we were told many times that the voice of the youth is a powerful thing. I have to agree. But after this trip, I have also realized that the voice of nature is also very powerful. We must learn to not just hear it, but also listen to it. We are such a small part of the earth we live in, yet we affect it so much.
When we finished our time on the sea ice we got a chance for one last trip on the zodiac boats. Belinda and Eric drove my zodiac and it was such a fun time! I was able to lay down in the bow of the boat and hang on as we zoomed past giant icebergs. It is definitely the best seat on the boat. But all good things must come to an end, and we had to head back onto the Ushuaia. I spent the rest of the afternoon on deck enjoying our last views of Antarctica. I am really going to miss it!
Posted by Yvette Alfaro, student
Today is officially my last day in Antarctica and I feel awful. I don’t know what to say since I have fallen in love with this land. I think I even forgot I was from New York and what day it is. I completely lost track of time, and I never realized that it was bound to end. However, I realized that as one story ends here another one begins. Even though I’m leaving, I’m taking with me some of the most important memories of my life and all of this I thought as I lay in the snow this morning. The ship was anchored on a bay with no name and we were there playing, but I couldn’t help think that soon the moments would become blurs in my mind. Even now I try to remember everything, and it all feels like it went by very fast and I never took enough advantage of what was going on. I even forgot that school existed and that I have a life in New York. Sure I love everything back home but this place just has something that traps you, a sort of magic that draws you back in. I feel an undying need to stay and remain behind, exploring the land. Come to think of it, I don’t want to leave and so a part of me remains behind. And I can’t wait until I tell all of you what happened to me when I was here and the many things I was able to see. Sure you will see pictures, but they can’t capture the full grasp of it. I came to hold a deep love for the ship that carried me safely across the seas, and will soon take me and everyone else on our way home. Today I also had my very last zodiac cruise and I even took a video of it. I felt the rush of the water and the lovely icebergs that were sculpted by mother earth right beside me. I ate part of the icicles that were forming on edge of the icebergs because it was extremely sunny and I resorted to wearing only a small fleece sweater. I realize the importance of it all; I am part of something that only takes place every 50 years, International Polar Year!! And that makes me feel really fortunate since I wouldn’t be here had it not been for my hard work and Mr. Snyder’s generosity. Thanks friends, family, and ElRO; especially ElRO because without it I would have never realized that I have a passion for science and adventure.
P.S. - If anyone wants to volunteer I am looking for an aid to do my makeup homework! (Just kidding!) Take care!
Posted by Sara Hollingshead, student
The past two days have been amazing. I have no words to describe the beauty Antarctica has shown us. Between the icebergs, the glaciers, the snow, the penguins, and the whales, I have never seen such a beautiful place in the world. In the past two days alone, I have taken 917 pictures. It really is amazing.
Yesterday morning, we sailed through the Lemaire Channel and were surrounded by icebergs and mountains. Our first landing was supposed to be at the Yalour Islands, but with the weather conditions, we couldn’t land. The team decided to stop at Pleneau Island, where we would land and have a Zodiac cruise. The Orcas landed first, and spent over an hour walking around the Island. There were many Gentoo penguins, and even a few seals. Megan and I took some time to just sit by the water edge and soak in the scenery around us. There were a few penguins that came near us and jumped in and out of the water; we were hoping that they would come visit us, but had no such luck. Afterwards, we had a Zodiac cruise with Alex. We sailed through a maze of icebergs. The bergs were huge and beautiful. The different shades of blue were amazing to see, and Alex even got the Zodiac up close to an iceberg and we were able to touch it, and got icicles. The sizes of the icebergs were truly unbelievable. Seeing the small Zodiac next to these huge icebergs was just eye opening.
In the afternoon, we arrived at Port Lockroy, a British base. We were able to see whale bones, and visit the base. The whale bones were huge!!! I really can’t imagine seeing an animal that big. The base was small, compared to the Argentine one we saw earlier, but since it is only a summer base and only has three people living there, it does not need to be as large. The one building was set up as a museum, and had a little souvenir shop. I sent all 59 postcards; Megan and I spent some time licking all the stamps, and by the time I put them into the mailbox, the box was almost full. We were told it will take almost six weeks for the postcards, so I’m sure you will see me first.
For dinner, we had a BBQ, and the people from the base at Port Lockroy joined us for dinner. It was very good! After dinner, Belinda gave a presentation on her dives to the Titanic. It was amazing to see how the dives work and what goes on during the dive.
This morning, Geoff came over the intercom at 6am, announcing that wake up wasn’t for another hour, but if you wanted to see a beautiful site, then you should get out on the deck. I decided to go check it out, since I probably won’t see it again. Not knowing what to expect, since our shade was closed, I was blinded by the sun when I walked outside. All I could see was white and blue. It was spectacular. Icebergs and glaciers were all over the place. I seriously have no words to describe how beautiful it was. We didn’t have any set plans for landings this morning, but we ended up having the best morning yet. The Captain sailed the Ushuaia into fast ice (ice connected to land). From there, we were able to take a very short Zodiac ride over to the ice, and walked on the ice. We spent close to three hours on the ice, playing games, taking pictures, sitting and taking in the scenery, and making snowmen and snow angels. The sun was also out, and many people including myself, were in short sleeves. Though the sun was very bright, since there is no ozone, and I got some color… It was so much fun, and an amazing way to end our expedition. Before we left the ice, we had to go sit by ourselves and think about how this expedition has changed our view on the world and life. We then got together and talked about what we thought about. As somebody put it, I know I’ve changed, but I don’t know how.
We had our last Zodiac cruise a little while ago; I was in Ingrid and David’s boat. It was a lot of fun, and Megan and I rode on the bow of the boat for the end of the ride. It was so much fun to have the wind blowing in our faces and seeing the beautiful landscape all around us.
We are currently heading to the Drake Passage, and I am hoping for a Drake Shake. It’s sad that our journey is coming to and end; but Geoff said earlier, that this is only a catalyst for change. It’s been an eye opening and humbling experience; seeing these huge icebergs and glaciers every day, and knowing that the penguins that have priority over humans have really affected me.
There are humpback whales now, so time to go searching!!!
Hope all is well at home. See you soon!!!! I can’t believe in three days I’ll be home. It’s weird.
Posted by Noor Khalifa Bakhit, student
Nooooooooo… today is our last day in Antarctica!! I don’t want this to end. I love it so much here to the point that I would definitely not mind spending the rest of my life here. This morning we stood on the Antarctic Ocean, literally. It was really great to feel that. We built the biggest snowball I have ever seen in my life, which was heaps of fun.
When I’m back home, sitting at my desk trying to write a poem, all I could think about is how tragic the world is and how hatred travels fast through people. The world as I saw it was full of cruelty and jealousy. Lying down on the snow today, looking up into the sky only made me think of beautiful words and how the world is after all a good place. Being here changed me in many ways and what I mentioned above was only one of the many. I really hope to send this message out to people like me who see the world in the wrong way; because beauty does exist even at the end of the world. It is in the eyes of the beholder.
P.S. - I LOVE YOU ATALA!! And all SOI!
Posted by John Quinesso, Chaperone
And so our magical mystery tour to the bottom of the earth draws to a close… and what an exiting end to our journey that took us a mere 60 miles from the Antarctic Circle! We have now entered the Drake Passage leading us back to reality and all of our homes, friends, and families.
We awoke this morning to the glistening ice and surrounds of our final charted destination – Wilhelmina Bay. What a magnificent site it was as we drew back the curtains of our cabins to view the sunshine drenched surrounds of ice and snow and leopard seals on icebergs floating past the Ushuaia! WOW! These awesome sites served as an excellent backdrop for a pre-breakfast group photo on the bow of the ship. This will certainly serve as a keepsake for all of us!
Following our Bay visit, our ship’s captain headed for some uncharted inland waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. In doing so, we ended up sailing into a bay area consisting of “fast ice” – flat ice that has formed off the side of a glacier! With some coaxing, we convinced the captain to literally run the ship into the ice for what turned out to be a morning long romp on the sea ice! Once our ship was “marooned” on the ice, we used our Zodiacs for a short ride to shore where we spent some time reflecting on our time here on this wonderful continent. It was clear to us all that each one of us has come away from this experience with a new perspective on life here on earth and what we can do to affect change.
Our journey back to the Drake and its rough seas ended with us donning our “landing gear” one last time to “Zodiac” along with and around our sailing ship throughout icebergs and narrow waterways on our approach to the Drake! This final Zodiac experience will remain in our minds forever.
The hour is late and tomorrow is another day! All the best to you all at home, and I’ll see you soon!