The above phrase was my tongue in cheek analysis of how my friends and I are faring here. The galley (cafeteria) food is making us fat, we’re tired because we work 54 hours a week plus optional volunteer jobs and stay up too late all the time watching movies and binge-watching The IT Crowd, but at least we’re putting away a lot of money since our housing and food are free.
I have definitely been healthier, but at least all my pants still fit, and I’ve been making an effort to eat healthier food in the galley, and walk on the treadmill a few times a week. My world has shrunk to just a few buildings and it’s amazing how fast time goes here. It’s almost JUNE! My winter contract is half over!
My radio show Esotera Australis has evolved into a classical music show, which is something I would never have done back home since Madison has so many classical music radio shows. But on Ice Radio, it’s the only one. Our only classical music is on vinyl, and playing an all-vinyl classical show is pretty neat.
I’m still writing the monthly station update for The Antarctic Sun, I started teaching myself the saxophone (spoiler: It’s hard!), I’m still doing retail assistance in the station store, I hosted and ran sound for an open mic a week ago, I’ve taught one friend to knit and have taught several violin lessons, I’ve been learning radio repair and maintenance skills at the Comms Tech shop with my colleague Marty, and on Sunday I volunteered as a guide at Robert Scott’s hut down at Hut Point. It was pitch-dark in the middle of the day, the wind chill was probably -40, and I had just three visitors, but it was still a worthwhile experience.
Being inside Scott’s hut in the dead of an Antarctic winter is a really different experience than being there when it’s sunny and 30 degrees above zero, as it was on my last visit. The hut is bone-chillingly cold and the stench of seal blubber is neutralized somewhat, but it also makes one appreciate how much suffering and misery Scott and his men endured to explore Antarctica and advance humanity’s knowledge of this vast, beautiful, and deadly continent.
I grumble whenever I have to walk the 100 feet between building 155 where I work and my dorm in a -30 wind chill, but I have it so good here compared to what the early twentieth century explorers had. These men were living in poorly-insulated huts and non-insulated tents in Antarctic winter. Eating seal and biscuits and barely anything else. Slowly trudging towards the South Pole, where the temperatures can drop to -100 below zero. They sacrificed and suffered so much.
Just writing about it makes my chest tighten a little and marvel at the lengths people will go for the sake of exploration and scientific advancement.