Magazine Amérique du nord

“First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your heart” Kim Stanley Robinson (Antarctica)

Publié le 20 novembre 2008 par Aqeron

Second title: “Love stories have a bad end in general” Les Rita Mitsouko (Les histoires d’A)

Hi folks!

Finally I’m taking the time to write, these last days as you can guess have been well busied. Discovering Mc Murdo is not done in 5 minutes, several meetings are required, some tests need to be done, and above all finding my marks!

But over there I am, finally! Even if it’s not the site where we will work… we are normally scheduled to leave the town (this is how Mc Murdo is called here) in 2 weeks fro WAIS Divide. But let’s see what will really happen, cause all the flights to WAIS were cancelled this last week due to bad weather conditions… no comment!

Let’s sum up what happened this last week, careful this must be long enough to make you fall asleep

or to make you give up the reading!
After having flown from SF to LA, and then Auckland, we spent finally 3 little days in Christchurch. Just enough time to rest, check our ‘Extreme Cold Weather’ clothes loaned by USAP (United States Antarctic Program) and check up for the next flight to Mc Murdo station. About the clothes, it’s disappointing to see how old they can be, and that they don’t seem really adapted for extreme cold conditions. As always, we’ll see on the field… and fortunately like everyone I came with some personal stuff, which is probably one of the main reason USAP didn’t give us better supplies.

The 6 hours flight between Christchurch and Mc Murdo was done in a big military C17 you can see in the updated pictures. It was so noisy that ear plugs were required, the comfort of the seat was basic but OK, and just two little circular windows gave us the possibility to see the outside. But it wasn’t as cold as I expected and it was also cool to go 2 minutes in the little cockpit to say hello to the pilots and watch the view…
We landed in a ice runway called Pegasus, at 18 miles from Mc Murdo, and as soon as arrived in the town we had our first meeting. Rules, behavior, contact list, ‘wash your hands every 5 minutes’ reminder… were the essential subject. And finally we were free to get our luggage and to go to our bedroom inside one of the several dormitories of the station.

Since, we spent a lot of time in different meetings… it’s crazy how much time we can waste with that. I don’t want to play my proud guy cause I know in France it’s approximately the same, but it’s really crazy here to see how people can talk and talk and talk again during hours just to explain something that can be done in less than 5 minutes!!! Incredible or even inconceivable!
We spent also a lot of time in our office, which unfortunately doesn’t have any windows. Just to work a little bit (some preparation and readings of information), and also for me to ‘work’ on my website and on the pictures, since we still have an permanent internet access here in Mc Murdo.
But also and fortunately, I went out some evening to look around: mountains, volcanoes, the Kiwis station called Scott base, look after the skuas…

As the grouch guy I am, I’m not feeling comfortable or satisfied here. At least for 2 reasons: the first I realized is that unconsciously I expected to find more animals and it’s not the case here, not directly by feet at least. So I will see maybe in January if I have time to join a biological program to go to one of the protected site… if it’s first possible of course! The second reason is simply that Mc Murdo is too crowded, about 800-1000 persons are living here now. So forget about any idea of family behavior like it was in DDU, and as it’s hard to me to introduce myself to unknown people, it’s not so easy to appreciate. Moreover, it’s harder because for the first time, I’m living with only american people, really few are strangers, and every time I’m speaking, I have this bad impression to speak like a Spanish cow!!! Frustrating!!!

OK, I will try to stop now, you certainly don’t know it yet, but I naturally use this kind of email/blog post to say things I would not say in other case, it’s quite easier and cheaper than going to a psychoanalyst!!!


If you still have some time to procrastinate, you can have a look on the website, I changed and added some stuff in the New-Zealand and WAIS/McMurdo parts: http:///

I will try to write another mail asap (I already can hear you screaming “Noooooooo…. stop to spam me!!!”), cause I have to explain the “Happy Campers Field” we did these 2 last days, but the pictures have to be edited first!

OK, I stop! As we usually say in France if I translate word by word: “Good wind!”

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