Sunday, January 4, 2009

First leg of the southbound journey

I have had some great in-flight experiences in the past, purely due to the people I have ended up seated beside. They have been some of the most fascinating characters. Today on my flight from Auckland to Christchurch I was secretly hoping that the person seated next to me might strike up a conversation just so I might become one of those fascinating in-flight friends! The fact I am off to Antarctica may just qualify me . . . Instead I squirmed in my seat, bubbling inside. Thankfully, my travel and project companion, Renee, was there to greet me on arrival in Christchurch and exploded with excitement at much the same time I did.

We trundled straight over to the Antarctica New Zealand clothing warehouse where Chris was waiting. He had neatly laid out all my clothing ahead of time (even correctly sized). Antarctica New Zealand has a completely new kit this year, which is quite different to what I’d used previously; but not to fear, Chris gave me the run down. I know exactly when to wear each of my six pairs of gloves and four jackets, including the individual purpose of each pocket (there are up to ten).

And then came Woody (a.k.a. Paul). Just as you start to feel daunted by the fact that you will have to be wearing all this gear because it is ACTUALLY pretty cold in Antarctica, Woody strides in. He greets you as a friend and grabs your attention. It’s just a casual chat. One in which he manages to divulge all the important information you need to know about the upcoming 24 hours, answer any questions you may have had, and even those you thought you may have had, if he hadn’t already answered them. Was I worried? Never.

Just to bait our excitement a little more, Renee and I visited the Antarctic Attraction right next door. It worked. I am so ready to get to Antarctica! I have packed and re-packed. All that is left to do is catch a little sleep! Having said that, ‘March of the Penguins’ is on the television right now . . .

We are scheduled to fly south around 10am tomorrow aboard a Royal New Zealand Airforce Hercules (C130). The flight should take around seven and a half hours. We will be on base for dinner . . . definitely there before dark (ha ha). There is always the potential for delay and cancellation on these southbound flights, so fingers and toes crossed that everything goes to plan. I’ll be wearing my red socks from the Sir Peter Blake Trust too, just for a little added luck.

There was a lot of gear to pack!

The lucky red socks

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