Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Off to Antarctica

So I’m off too Antarctica tomorrow.  Or today or yesterday--depending on when and what part of the world you’re reading this from.  That means a 4:30am pickup from the hotel and hoping to land on the ice around noon-ish.  That is if the weather cooperates and we can fly into McMurdo.  There are two planes going down.  An Airbus-320 that has half the seats and the rest is filled with fuel to make the 4,800-mile round trip journey.  The other is a USAF C-17, which is the second largest cargo plane in the world. 

I’m on the first flight out which is the Airbus.  Our checked bags are on the C-17 (which leaves a few hours after my flight) meaning if the weather turns bad we arrive only with our carry-on and a small checked “boomerang bag.”  This "boomerang bag" is the only one we get back in Christchurch in case the plane has to turn around because of weather on the way down.  The rest remain "palletized" (new word learned today) until planes can leave again.  Meaning we could be without checked bags for days in either McMurdo or Christchurch.  Really not a big deal.  All I really need is my computer, camera and a book.

Mountains on the South Island of New Zealand on the Sydney-Christchurch flight.

I’m really excited for this new adventure in life.  In a way it is the most permanent adventure in awhile since I’ll be in one place for so long (4-5 months).  I have no idea what it will be like on the ice or what my job will be like, but so far I am certainly not against doing this for a few years, despite the craziness up to this point of actually getting down here.

All the people in my department are amazing.  We laugh all the time and are all my kind of people.  It also seems like everyone thinks we have the coolest job.  It is true that most people don’t get to see as many other cool places as we do. I’ve met many other people that are heading down (quite a few Missoula people actually!) and all seem like really good, fun people.  I’m really excited for the people experience down there besides just the fact that I’ll be in Antarctica. 

Awesome mall made entirely of shipping containers.  I kind of want to build a house out of them someday.

The last few days in Christchurch have been an experience in itself.  There have been a few serious earthquakes here in the last few years.   Apparently the Australians are fully to blame for this because it is “their” plate colliding with the “NZ” plate.  New Zealand is by all means a fully developed first world country.  And in so many ways much more progressively developed than the US.  After a few hours spent in the city it is amazing how “far back” total devastation can send a community.  What used to be a pretty marvelous cityscape is now literally in ruins.  Cleaned up vacant lots sit full of weeds and broken concrete where skyscrapers used to rise up.  Piles of rubble are now where buildings used to stand.  It seems as though every church in the city was completely destroyed or seriously damaged.  I guess the republicans weren't around to save them...okay...okay I won't even go there.

I went through such a range of emotions while riding a bus through the city.  Sometimes I felt as though I was in a lesser developed part of Chile.  It will take decades for Christchurch to be “re-built.” It is really humbling to see what nature can do and how slowly humans can get back to their status quo.  Yes, this is a major city so development takes time and the development that was there was far more concentrated than in a more rural area so the affects are much different than the would have been in the countryside. 

Just a glimpse of what has happened to downtown Christchurch.  I don't want to add other photos because they are all similar to this.  You get the idea.  If this photo was taken a few years ago it would like similar to downtown Chicago and you probably wouldn't see the sky due to the buildings...

I think every person should have to-at some point in their life- be a server at a restaurant, but I now also think everyone should see some type of devastation of human development.

My first experience with this was in Chaiten, Chile where a mudslide from the eruption of the Chaiten Volcano took out the town.  I visited there in November 2011 and many of the buildings still stood, evacuated, but buried under anywhere from three to twenty feet of volcanic ash.  Many people still live there.  Only a few business operate there. It will never re-develop like Christchurch will.  I feel like Chaiten will always be touched in a way we will never understand and forever be buried.  Christchurch wasn't buried; it fell down.  Easier to repair? After being in Christchurch, I am furthermore reminded of (despite all our human efforts) the power that nature has over people.  

 On that note—off to Antarctica.
We had a nice walk along the beach in sandals...something that won't happen for awhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment