The cold arctic wind whips in my hair as I stand at the bow, shaking from excitement (and cold) as the whale surfaces a few meters from the boat. Its massive, wondering eye stares back at me, as curious about me as I am about it. The boat lurches and my eyes fly open; I'm back at my office in Costa Rica. I've been day dreaming again about my upcoming trip to Antarctica. It still seems a long way off (Nov. 2019) but with the arrival of the new year I realize it's not that far away after all.
For someone who wears shorts and sleeveless shirts most of the time, planning a trip to Antarctica is an odd experience. My mind keeps playing tricks on me and I imagine myself as a 1,000 layer colorful onion, barely being able to move in all of my cold weather gear or sometimes I can see myself becoming an ice sculpture the minute I step onto the boat deck. You see, I live in tropical Costa Rica where temperatures range between the 70s and 80s year round.
This will be my first trip to Antarctica and it's certainly exciting but I have to admit I know nothing about cold weather. I've never experienced freezing temperatures like the ones people in North America are facing right now as I write this. I definitely want to experience the cold weather, but more than that I have this weird desire to see ice in massive amounts and I'm pretty sure I won't be disappointed. Antarctica makes me feel like I'm visiting something so 'out of this world' that I can only compare it with the feeling of going to the moon.
This trip will be a challenge that I hope will help me see what I'm actually made of and whatever I discover about myself, I'll be ready to embrace it. I know it's not like I'm attempting an unassisted crossing of the Antarctic continent or anything close to that, but for many travelers this trip is not only the trip of a life time but also a trip that exposes some of their deepest unconscious fears. The distance from home (over 7,000 miles away) and being warm enough are probably what worry me the most. Luckily, with such great technology surrounding us these days it's fascinating to think that within 2 days I can travel from Costa Rica to such a remote area and that cold weather gear will keep me as warm as needed, I hope!
I expect a lot from this trip and I hope it will be everything that I have dreamed of, like being up close and personal with a whale or an iceberg, visiting a research station (big on my list), paddling the polar waters, enjoying the glacier views, sharing glacier walks with strangers, and especially crossing the Drake Passage (big on my list!) I plan to enjoy every part of it and I know everything is going to be a gift, even the unexpected.
If you're adventurous enough to join me on this trip to the icy Southern continent there's still room available! Join me and let's walk beyond and realize our own vastness as we observe the starry polar skies and discover different shades of white. Let's feel the desolation, the stillness and the remoteness of this part of the earth. Let's witness one of the most splendorous, natural and untouched areas of a continent few travelers ever get to explore. Let's let Antarctica embrace us and discover a part of us we haven't seen before, even though we know we don't belong there .