26 October, 1998
Well, guess what? Our flight that was scheduled for this morning was cancelled because the plane was "broken." It was going to have to go back to the States to get fixed...so a couple more days here. Our hotel manager, Don Adams, poked his head in our room last night around midnight and said in his New Zealand accent, "Girls, turn your alarms off...your flight has been cancelled!" So at least we were able to sleep in past the 4:30 am wakeup time.
I had breakfast at the hotel this morning and returned to the NSF building to catch up on the weekend's e-mails, journals, and photos. I mailed some extra clothing back home, so I wouldn't have to worry about it on my way back through Christchurch. I found out through sending photos back home that my new formatted disks are the wrong kind, so I attempted to find a shop in town that was open (today was a national holiday-- Labor Day) and buy the right kind of disks for my digital camera. I found some disks at a newly-opened Cyber Cafe place. They have quite a few of these places around, where you can check e-mail, surf the web, and call home for fairly reasonable prices. Some of the cafes are actual eating places where you can order food while you do your work. What a great idea!
I grabbed a chicken, avocado, brie cheese, and sour cream pizza (unusual, huh?) on my way back to my hotel. I went to this place called Sticky Fingers where everything in the cafe/restaurant was held up by hands and fingers....pretty neat. I ate my pizza on the front porch of the hotel and had no problem attracting quite a crowd that was interested in sampling my lunch.
Several of us decided to go to the Aquarium of Discovery in town, an aquarium with various freshwater and saltwater species of New Zealand. I took some pictures, although the lighting was very dim, simulating twilight. [Some of the fish are nocturnal...do you remember what that means?]
Upon return to the hotel, a group of people (Chris, Nina, me, and several of the fuel tank builders going down to McMurdo) went downtown for a fabulous meal at Cafe Valentino's-- a great Italian place! [Doesn't it seem like our trip has begun revolving around food?] Another day has passed, and we still haven't experienced the severe cold of Antarctica. A few facts...Antarctica is a very difficult place to reach. Weather and ice dictate the schedule, and that's why we're stranded in Christchurch. Antarctica's wind speeds top 320 km/h at times, and the temperatures drop to as low as -89 degrees C (what is that in Fahrenheit?)
No one owns Antarctica. The international treaty was agreed upon by all countries involved for international cooperation, scientific research, and pure beauty.
The earliest crossing of the Antarctic Circle was made by Captain James Cook on January 17, 1773 during circumnavigation of the continent, but he did not see land during this trip. There are many other explorers that came after, exploring the Antarctic continent, and their stories abound here in New Zealand. They are gruesome tales...ones that make me glad that I'm traveling now and not then. Ed Adams, one of my team members, was telling me about the book called This Accursed Land and how the explorers used dogs and dogsleds to cover the territory. They lost dogs and food in a crevasse and had to eat the weak and dying dogs. Because they thought that the liver was the most nutritional part of the dog, they saved this part for themselves. What they didn't know was that the dogs had higher levels of Vitamin A in their liver, causing dementia and skin/hair loss in humans. At one point, one of the explorers literally pulled off his boot, only to have the complete sole of his foot come off in his hands. He simply tied it back on. Sounds awful, doesn't it?
A trivia question...can you guess the name of the Antarctic explorer who fits the following description? Organized Nimrod Expedition, his expedition originated from Britain, brought ponies from Siberia for his expedition, trudged on foot to within 180 km of the Pole and had to return home because of dwindling supplies...
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