Sitting here in a borrowed office at the Antarctica New Zealand headquarters I finally feel calm and relaxed; not to mention VERY excited! I have spent the day today at Antarctica New Zealand getting sorted with my Antarctic clothing kit, being briefed on the role of the environmental team and being introduced to a number of the staff around the place. My tour guide/mentor/and answerer of all my questions has been Jana Newman, one of the Environmental Advisors for Antarctica New Zealand, and she has been brilliant!!! Before this morning I really was ridiculously nervous and anxious, but after spending the day in Jana’s presence the nerves have gone and I am now just incredibly excited and eagerly anticipating the adventures tomorrow will bring.
To briefly fill in you blog-followers (and mum, you’ve heard this a million times so you can skip this bit if you like :) ), I have dreamed of visiting Antarctica since I was five years old. At any opportunity where I could choose my own topic for a school project my choice would either be on dolphins, Sir Edmund Hillary, or Antarctica. I remember being in one of those awkward situations in Year 12 where a careers advisor was trying to get a whole group of us students to plan our lives (when all we were really cared about was our summer holidays which were just around the corner). As it came to my turn to share with the group what one of my dreams was I didn’t have to think about it at all before sharing my dream of one day travelling to Antarctica. I think the careers advisor thought I was insane, and to this day I don’t know whether that was because she couldn’t understand why anyone would dream of being in sub-zero temperatures for days on end or because she thought it was one of those hopeless dreams that would never be realised. So when I say that this trip-of-a-lifetime is a dream come true for me, I really do mean that!
OK, so background aside .. Jana and I have been exchanging e-mails and having phone conversations since August last year, so it has been lovely to finally meet her and put a face to the name (and voice). I arrived at about 9.30 am (a good half an hour early! which, as some of you will know is not typical for me .. but looks like the New Year’s resolution is holding strong thus far!). After chatting for a bit, Jana took me on a tour through their offices and I meet some of the other staff. At 10.30 we headed over to the clothing warehouse where Paul Woodgate (Antarctica New Zealand Logistics Co-ordinator) was waiting .. patiently .. in the hallway. After the formalities of introductions Paul apologised for the delay in getting started and we learned that a TVNZ reporter and camera man were getting kitted out (and had been for close to 2 hours!!) (by the way, to get kitted out = receiving the gear you will need to keep warm in Antarctica outside of Scott Base – this includes a vast array of polyprop, thicker over layers and three different outer jackets that can be worn individually or layered; a pair of salopettes (similar to a bib overall), socks, various head garments (hat, balaclava, hood and head band!) and nine pairs of gloves and mittens!). Once the TVNZ guys finally pulled themselves away from the dressing room mirrors (and really, I’m sure Jack Tame couldn’t look bad if he tried!) we got the briefing underway. It was great to see numerous maps and models of Antarctica, Ross Island and Scott Base .. all very interesting! We were then informed of the plans for tomorrow – including the 6.20 am meeting time, and then it was my turn to meet Chris and try on my ‘kit’. Aside from looking and feeling like a sumo wrestler in all of the gear it was great fun, and I can’t wait to have it all on again tomorrow.