Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Friday, February 8, 2013

Time off in New Zealand

Kaikoura, NZ coastline

The USAF C-17 cargo jet is still not flying to/from McMurdo because the runway isn’t in good enough shape yet.  So this means the only way to get back to Christchurch right now is an eight hour flight on a LC-130 .  Eight hours on a normal plane isn’t bad, but sitting in a mesh-netting seat on the side of a military cargo plane is terrible.  I slept many different times during my flight back to Christchurch, but each time I only slept for a few minutes before the discomfort would jar me awake again.

Kaikoura, NZ
Once we landed in Christchurch I felt like I was on a different planet.  Going through immigration and customs was a breeze and then I walked out into the real world.  The humidity and the smells overwhelmed me.  I stood there in a daze before I made my way over to the bus stop.  I couldn’t stop staring at trees and houses and cars and all these things that seemed so new to me.  

Living things in the sea! Finally more than just floating ice!

If you are bored with life and need something to stimulate your senses go to Antarctica.  Every day is different and exciting.  But it is all too easy to get sucked into the excitement of the Antarctic world and become comfortable in a place that is so closed off from the rest of the world.  If you get bored with that go back to New Zealand. After I jumped back into the real world for a few days one of the hardest things for me to do was to order food from a restaurant.  There were so many options!  I got used to walking through the galley and grabbing whatever happened to look good.  I walked into grocery stores wide-eyed and confused.  The sounds from insects were bizarre and the sun fried my newly exposed skin.  After a week here my arms and neck are still red and painful. Often I would forget where in the world I was.  Some moments I would feel like I was in the US, others I would feel like I was in Chile and sometimes I wouldn't know here the hell I was standing.

Kaikoura, NZ
My arms and neck are still red and hurt like hell even after dozens of daily applications of aloe.  I’m not quite as wide-eyed in grocery stores and the trees are starting to seem normal again.  It is all great timing because I fly back to Antarctica tomorrow.

Being back in New Zealand has been a tease of the traveling that I’ll have to wait another eight months to do.  Although it was exactly what I needed before the winter starts.  I feel like winter in Antarctica is going to have three different starts for me.  It will first begin when I start my new job on Feb 11.  The second start will be the first official day of winter in the US Antarctica Program on February 28.  But I think winter will really start once the last flight leaves on March 5th.  Then it is full on no physical contact from the outside world until the 3rd week of August.

I have about 2000 photos to go through from the last few days so there be most posts and photos coming in the next week or so.  Until then I leave you with some seabird yoga poses.... 

And the classic seal yoga pose.

And a moment that I won't experience for another 3/4 of a year:

1 comment:

  1. I've been following your blog with interest via Lynette's links on FB. I can really identify with your comments on 'reentry'...reminds me of when I returned to the States after a few years in Ecuador with the Peace Corps. I walked into a K-Mart in Texas and the stimulus was overwhelming...I was nauseous from the sights and smells and had to go outside and sit down!!