Friday, January 14, 2011

Antarctica Expedition 2010-2011

Sorry for the delay. I came back a little sick from all the traveling. For starters the trip was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I've met great students and staff from around the world. Our international group included people from Palestine, Israel, India, Japan, Canada, US and a few others. Hearing everyone accents and learning about their culture made us even closer on our journey to Antarctica. We became one big family and look forward to a reunion.

My journey began December 27. Due to the blizzard our plane was delayed three hours. Those three hours was filled with introducing ourselves, making friends, games of UNO and exploring JFK airport. Amongst those three hours we bonded and I knew right away the trip was going to be great. Before we knew it, we were on the plane to Santiago, Chile. After about 8 hours the plane made a stop in Lima, Peru to get fueled and leave/pick up passengers. Two hours later we arrived to Chile. We all had lunch in Chile airport and we were off to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

We stood in Buenos Aires for about three days and met up with other students and staff traveling from other places. Our time in Buenos Aires was filled with prep ups for the trip to Antarctica, activities to get to know each other and a tour of Buenos Aires. On the tour we got a taste of Argentinean culture and people. We saw important buildings and statues that are great tourist attraction. OH, and the best of all, its summer there this time of year. I guess you can say we spoiled ourselves with the hot weather before hitting the Arctic.

After three days in Buenos Aires, we were on a plane to Ushuaia, Argentina. There we went on the ship and sailed the seas to Antarctica. We spent two days on the Drake Passage and some people enjoyed those days being sea sick. I wasn't badly sick going through it so i was HAPPY about that. On New Years we finally hit the perimeters of Antarctica. We celebrated New Years on the ship with songs and skits from students and staff. We had a blast!

After New Years we reached land and began exploring for a week. We had zodiac cruises seeing glaciers and penguins up close and personal. We hiked up mountains, glaciers and ice caps. I never hiked in my life and what great way to start in Antarctica! Our hikes ranged to about two hours and there were times when I thought I wasn't going to make it. My feet were sliding back and I saw penguins on the side of me climbing like nothing. They were cute and funny to see. If a penguin could do it so can I! I got to the top and my breathe was taken away. It was not because of steep hike and me ready to pass out, it was because of the view. The pictures that I saw for screen savors were right in front of me. It was serial. We took time for ourselves to soak it all in. I was completely at ease and had no tension. I let go of all the negativity that happen in the past and I felt like a new person. At that moment I realized this wasn't only journey to learn about Antarctica, it is a self journey as well. On this journey I connected with nature and reconnected with myself. Back in reality everyone is caught up with work, school, kids, etc and sometimes lose yourself in the process. Being in Antarctica gave me time to learn more about myself and the world. This was truly a memorable experience.

In Antarctica we visited a series of islands where we learned about glaciers and wildlife. We saw Gentoo penguins, Chinstrap penguins, elephant seals, leopard seals and many types of sea birds. We hiked many glaciers and enjoyed sliding down them, especially the steep ones. We visited Science Stations and saw how they lived and did work for long periods of time. Oh and yes there is a store/gift shop in Antarctica. In Port Lockroy, people on expeditions send post cards, buy gifts, and rest a bit. It was nice to see other people and talk about their experiences living there. We also joined the Arctic swim team. In Deception Island there is an active volcano and when you dig deep enough you'll get got water. So the staff dug us an hot tub and after dunking our bodies in the ocean we ran in it. It was an exhilarating experience. When we were not exploring what was around us, we tended workshops on the ship about climate change, glaciology, sea birds, explorers and Antarctica. The workshops were a great way to learn and become an active group of students advocating for a change. Then before we knew it it was time to sail back to Ushuaia and end our journey. Our last day in Antarctica we celebrated Polar Night. We discussed our individual feelings about our expedition, told stories, skits, made songs about Antarctica, and said our goodbyes to the extraordinary continent.

Again I had an AMAZING time. I am so grateful to take part in the expedition. I met extraordinary people and made friendships for life. I thank Students on Ice for an experience of a life time and I thank UPROSE for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to tellings my stories and making a change.

Protect the Poles. Protect the Planet.
Arctic Celi

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