Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Among the Bergs

Another glorious day full of adventure! A few facts first; today was +12 celsius, at our further point south we were 67.5 latitude, the Arctic Circle is 66.5 latitude, and water is about -2 celsius (colder than ice, but with the salt it does not all freeze solid). 

We were in dog leg fjord this morning. We were told that last time a vessel was in this particular area was the 1950’s! The National Geographic boat is very nimble and seems to get around easily.

We started the day by kayaking in these great 2 person inflatable kayaks. They have it set up well so you you can easily get in and out of them on a floating platform. Quite honestly Jason did 99% of the paddling but what a view! We were among small ice bergs and chunks of ice. We paddled up to 5 adelie penguins hanging out on the fast ice. In fact we heard later that one of the female staff who does the filming had quite the adventure with one of these little fellows. As she was standing in the zodiac, she felt something hit her in the leg and looking down one of the penguins had jumped in the boat. I guess he wandered around and then jumped off the bow. We also saw more seals lounging on the ice. I dipped my water proof camera into the icy water to try and get a picture of the ice edge. However, with no camera cable I can not download it to see if it worked out. 

After the kayaking we switched back to the zodiac and made a landing on the rocky edge of the Antarctic continent. Our previous landings have been on Antarctic islands but not the main continent. Jason scaled up the rocky scree slope with all this loose rock. It was too steep and high for my liking so I only went a little bit up. I found a nice warm rock, took off my jacket and meditated. What a feeling :)

Now we are back on board, full from lunch, considering a nap, and awaiting a presentation this afternoon on a Oceantis research program, and later tonight a showing of the penguin cartoon Happy Feet. 

I have also managed to squeeze in a short but fabulous book; “The World We Have; A Buddhist Approach to Ecology” by my fave Buddhist author Thich Nhat Hanh. It has thoughtful insights on the need for environmental protection for both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. It really points out how if we ignore the environment we ultimately are killing ourselves and discusses some practical ways to make changes. Not just things like recycling (also very important), but how we view the world, how we value ourselves and other beings, how we consume and how we act with either compassion or lack of compassion. A profound excerpt “We have created a society in which the rich become richer, and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet earth. In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over a few seeds of grain, unaware that in a  few hours they will be killed” (p. 3) I feel very fortunate to to have all that I have in my life and hope to live each day compassionately and mindfully. This book reminds me of this.

No comments: