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Next Stop Antarctica...

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  • Next Stop Antarctica...

    Hello Fellow Antarcticans,

    I'm Ken and I'm currently living in Piriapolis, Uruguay. I've been moving south for a few years now after leaving NYC since the spring of 2001. My interest in Antarctica began about 30 years ago while brainstorming with friends about the best place to be if the world was engulfed in a nuclear holocaust. I began several years of research reading the tales of exploration, compiling maps and documents. I was little disheartened when I studied the Antarctic Treaty in law school, realizing that I wouldn't be mushing my huskies across the Antarctic plain anytime soon.

    Well, life and reality took over and the concerns of work and kids and marriage, pushed those fantasies and fears to the back of my mind. Working in lower Manhattan the morning of September 11th, started a process whereby I felt an new urge to leave the city. Not really with the intention of heading to Antarctica, though deep in the mind who knows what compells us. I took the opportunity to leave the city and get out into the world a little, something I'd been meaning to do.

    We spent a few years in the tropics and continued down to Uruguay as if being called to something, drawn perhaps. Now living in Piriapolis, I've come to meet people with the same idea of venturing down by sailboat. Many of the boats in our harbor are being provisioned and preparing for the journey down. Perhaps I will get my chance to experience this dream.

    Each time before I make a move my research begins with a google search, reading blogs and joining a forum. Great tools these forums, wonderful places to meet and exchange factual and actual information in real time. Thanks to Paul for starting this site, and thank you posters, I know that the posters are what keep these things active inspiring Paul to keep it going! Great Information.

  • #2
    Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

    Welcome to the forum. I just came here recently myself, but I have likewise been interested in Antarctica for many years, and spent this last austral summer at McMurdo Station (3 weeks) and the South Pole (3 months). I'm hoping to go back for Winter 2009.

    Any questions, please ask.


    • #3
      Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

      Hi Alan, Thanks for the Welcome! I told my wife this morning about this forum and asked her if she'd be interested in going down for a stay. After many moves she knows not to dismiss my fantasies, as they more often than not, turn in reality. Although she isn't too interested at this point, that's how it usually starts out. After a while she gets bitten by the same bug, then the kids get onboard and then we start to plan out our wanderings as a family.

      Did you see any families in Antarctica, couples, children? I'm imagining a family project, maybe the presence of families would create a more natural environment for long term stayovers. My wife and I are teachers and our kids have been moving with us from culture to culture, gaining amazing perspectives. I've also been involved with grant writing and program development. Any other famlies out there that think they would be interested in joining a family summer camp at McMurdo grant project? Later maybe we can try the family winter-over project?

      So happy to meet my first Antarctic friend! What do you say? Antarchy?


      • #4
        Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

        Hi Ken and welcome to the board

        Quite a story you have there. I've just Googled Piriapolis and it seems it's close to Maldonado which was my first real taste of civilization after leaving Antarctica after 2 years. Our ship docked at Montevideo and then a friend and I took ourselves on up the coast on a slow journey to La Paz where I flew back to the UK from. I really liked Uruguay, a nice place off the beaten tourist track with very friendly people.

        The Argentinians have had families on the Peninsula for many years now and at one time even used to fly women down to give birth to genuine "Antarcticans" to help boost their political claims. So families aren't that unusual.

        The US has had a programme whereby teachers and sometimes (older) kids can visit for some time now. As far as I'm aware there have been no families there (other than on tourist vessels), there is no particular reason to do it, and most people who go to Antarctica go for a reason to do with what they can do (research or research support wise) in Antarctica. Having said that I have always been a believer in don't-ask-don't-get, so good luck.


        • #5
          Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

          Hi Paul, Great work on the site!

          Uruguay is a great little country, we take the bus into Maldonado every so often, to do some shopping and take the kids to the movies at the mall.

          My feeling is that right now Anarctica is for the scientists and the technicians, but it's also a place for international cooperation and intercultural understanding. Making it liveable, for the scientists as well, may be the next step. I'm more inclined to see the continent as a new opportunity for mankind to work together and use the environment responsibly and to the benefit of all, rather than preserve it as a pristine laboratory. I'm sure many will disagree, but it's a huge place, no?

          My wife and I teach English and Spanish, and are very involved in arts and entertainment programs. There's gotta be a need for such things when people are sequestered and isolated for such periods. Hope to be meeting and exchanging views with many on this wonderful site.


          • #6
            Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

            In the U.S. program it's very rare for anyone under 18 to go to Antarctica. In fact, I don't know if it has ever happened at all. However, this past Christmas (or pretty near to it, anyhow) there was almost a complete family at the South Pole. A father and two daughters were all there at once - the daughters were stationed there, and the father at McMurdo, but his job brought him to the South Pole a couple times during the season.

            Otherwise - the sort of people who want to preserve Antarctica as a pristine wilderness do not tend to be the same sort of people who go there. This is not to say that the workers there are not conscious of the necessity of living lightly on the land and the responsibility of humans to be good stewards of the environment, but few (if any) have the quasi-religious belief common to some extremists that the continent should be left entirely untouched.

            Personally, I am interested in Antarctica as a laboratory in which we can practice living in extreme conditions in preparation for going off-planet, while not being so extreme that any mistake is fatal. However, there doesn't seem to be much of that going on yet. I know that NASA has tested some equipment there, but by-and-large technology tends to be a little behind the curve there. I think there are several causes for this: (1) many of the personnel are in the Antarctic or preparing to go back so much of their time that they are not paying full attention to technological improvements elsewhere in the world, (2) there are good reasons to wait until new technologies are robust before relying overly much on them, (3) once adopted, it still takes a couple years to get anything big or heavy on site, and (4) it's run by the government. That said, some of the science is bleeding edge, so it's a kind of strange dichotomy.

            But besides being a laboratory for living in space, Antarctica could also be a laboratory for living on earth in more efficient ways that are friendly to both humanity and the environment. As for intercultural understanding - the programs now are mostly governmental, and tend to represent either a single nationality or closely allied nations - though not always. All the same, I have spoken on several occasions to a man who was there from late 1958 to early 1960, and he likes to tell how a New Zealander once remarked to him, "You Americans and the Russians are all alike; both are trying to shove your forms of government down everyone else's throats." For him, this was an eye-opening moment, when he realized that not everyone viewed the world the same way. All the same, there is certainly an international aspect to many of the programs - I met Swedes, Japanese, Germans, Canadians, British, Kiwis, Australians, Dutch, and others while I was down south. Even met a few Yankees. ;-)

            (An explanation for non-Americans - Yankees are inhabitants of the Northeastern USA. Participants in the U.S. Antarctic Program tend to be from the western states, though I am from the Southeast. For many Americans, Yankees are an exotic species.)


            • #7
              Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

              Thanks Alan, for your perspective on the situation. This forum is already opening my eyes to the broad range of ideas and approaches to the great white wilderness.

              As a Yank, maybe I can apply on some affirmative action basis.

              My intercultural efforts in NYC, the Caribbean and South America, have been towards bridging the gap between Latino and Anglo-American culture. Maybe there could be some opportunities for intercultural events on the peninsula?

              I see Antarctica as the last frontier, well maybe third to last, seeing as space travel and deep sea living have yet to be conquered. Perhaps with the development of new technologies, nanotech clothing, insulating and new construction materials, the obstacle of extreme cold may become manageable. Here's to the adventure that each of us are seeking, each in their own way!


              • #8
                Re: Next Stop Antarctica...

                Originally posted by Ken
                I see Antarctica as the last frontier, well maybe third to last, seeing as space travel and deep sea living have yet to be conquered. Perhaps with the development of new technologies, nanotech clothing, insulating and new construction materials, the obstacle of extreme cold may become manageable. Here's to the adventure that each of us are seeking, each in their own way!
                Of course, some of this has already been done, although (as I have mentioned) the tech in Antarctica at present tends to be a little behind, and there is much room for improvement. Still, there is experience there worth learning from. If you are interested in that sort of thing, I'd be willing to send you some information, as per the post linked below: