Saturday, January 08, 2011
Having Left The Drake Passage...

I first heard about Students on Ice ten years ago when I was in high school. While volunteering at the local bingo hall one night, a friend asked if I would ever consider going to Antarctica. The first thing out of my mouth (other than a huge, curious grin) was, "Yes!" I had never thought of it before, but it pulled at something in me. To make a long story short, we never made it on that trip, but SOI's maiden voyage in 2000 stayed on my mind for the last decade. Two weeks ago, when I arrived at the airport and started to meet everyone as the expedition got underway, I worried that I wouldn't be able to express to anyone how truly meaningful it was for me to have finally made it here.

Our word of the day two days ago was "ineffable" - describing how something is inexpressible. How appropriate, I thought. I've been wondering about how I'm going to describe everything to people when I get home. I have been thinking and talking about Antarctica for ten years how, I have to show some photos and tell some stories, don't I? But

This is the Last Continent, the last bit of the earth to be discovered by explorers and for a long time, the continent of Antarctica didn't appear on any world maps. When it finally did, it was a vague scribble at the bottom of the page, labelled "Incognita" - Unknown.

I read this quote shortly before I left for the expedition; it struck a chord with me and will undoubtedly stay with me for some time. And for now, it is the only way that I can express how truly meaningful, and ineffable, this experience was for me: "It is not down on any map, true places never are."