I am now 29 years old. And it really is something to have a birthday in Antarctica.
Since turning 18, as a testament to how much I have travelled in the last 10 years, I have celebrated 8 of my last 11 birthdays in another country, abroad – from my 19th in Malaysia to Brazil to Carthage, Tunisia to Antarctica and a few places in-between. In fact, I think it would be strange to celebrate a birthday at ‘home’ in the UK.
Whatever flame inside me has pushed me out and about around the world, still burns strong within. Im not sure what I’m looking for, but feel with every year past, and every rough nights sleep in a hut on the side of a runway in a village, i’m getting closer to it. And certainly I’m still smiling, through considerably more wrinkles and more grey hairs – raising further accusations of me dying my hair to look more worldly wise. I have a grey hair for every mile on those long overnight asian intercity bus rides on which I’ve travelled, being 6 feet tall, with my knees besides my ears. Although I feel as if I am physically aging, I do worry as I feel my mental age sometimes does not surpass 12 years in age.
After an obligatory birthday lie in, our chef (“Antarctica’s Best Chef”), Giorgio, had surprised me by cooking an English Breakfast. Of course, our resident alcoholic or better put ‘friend and lover to alcohol’, Stephane, had insisted I should drink red wine to accompany it. I’ll leave my stomach to find an answer or compromise to that equation. A fully cooked English Breakfast in the world’s most extreme and isolated environment – there is nothing our man Giorgio can’t do.
But that’s not all – wait to see the 6 course meal he has planned for Saturday night. It will be in honour of two birthdays – my own and that of my good friend, fellow french crew member and ice-prison inmate, Sebastien Aubin who turns 27 on Sunday.
I sit back, reach under my bed and pull out a few wrapped gifts my family and friends had given to me before I left the UK – one gift even arriving back in November from a very good friend, Pam, from Canada – thanks!
Since leaving home after Christmas, here’s to having travelled 5 months on a long cold dark and treacherous journey to arrive today on my birthday – words cannot describe how thankful I am for having such wonderful family, friends and fellow crew members down here on the ice. If I was to go for an academy award and cry, my tears will freeze and probably cause frostbite, so I won’t.
The clock has just turned midnight and contrary to what my fellow french crew members say about me being a ‘girl’ (endrillon, ou La petite Pantoufle de Verre, Cinderella to the rest of the world) … I’m not missing a shoe and nothing has changed. Though living down here in ‘unfortunate circumstances’, I am left as always to feel, the reality of Antarctica … one day will be the worse of your life and the next day, the best – so suddenly our luck has changed to remarkable fortune and it fills you to the stomach biding good rest for the mind. The Big Antarctic Sleep-Over really is wonderful.
I had one birthday in a hot African desert once, but this has been the coldest birthday of my life… -76.4 degrees Celsius. Oh, and I didn’t even have to do my washing up at lunchtime! Some Cinderella… in your face Frenchies… Hurrah! Best ever…
|Temperature||-74.3 °C||Pressure||623.4 hPa|
|Windchill||-87.6 °C||Relative Humidity||25 %|
|Wind Direction||163°||Dewpoint||-83.4 °C|
|Wind Speed||1.7 m/s||3.3 knots|
Song of the day
Old Man by Neil Young. Not because I feel so ‘old’ but because I remember turning 24 and singing along to his lyrics in the song… “24 and there’s so much more…” Aged 29 – 5 years later – there really had been so much more, and hopefully more to come.
Whats more interesting is the true story behind the song – about the old man living alone on a farm property Neil Young had bought.
Old man look at my life,
and there’s so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.
Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.