Greetings from South Georgia,
The last three days have been incredible; thousands of penguins and seals set against a backdrop of ridged mountains topped with crystal blue glaciers that tower above the swell of the ocean below. I will admit I had been so busy with my own projects prior to setting out on this voyage that I never fully appreciated the opportunity before me. It was not until my first landing on South Georgia Island that this experience finally resonated.
South Georgia can best be described as an Eden of the south sea. The beaches are animated with such a variety of wildlife that words, nor pictures can due justice in describing how alive this place is. To walk the beaches of South Georgia is to zigzag through a flourishing ecosystem that has developed no fear or apprehension towards human beings.
There was a time not too long ago when the world was so bountiful with places like South Georgia. Today such places are now few and far between. The world has become increasingly humanized and now too few Eden’s are left in the same brilliance that nature intended. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to see South Georgia with my own eyes and walk the pebbled beaches with my own feet, yet I cannot help but wonder how long this exotic realm can thrive while the modern world marches on with relentless force and impossible consequences.
Not too long ago the world was captivated by the Chilean mining rescue but in 1915 the greatest survival story of all time unfolded on Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Each night as I enjoy the warmth of my bed I cannot help but wonder if I could endure what Shackleton and his men overcame almost a century ago. After Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the pack ice enroute for Antarctica, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven were forced to survive amongst the harshest conditions imaginable for over a year. The ordeal was culminated by a 1300 km crossing of the south sea for the last outpost of civilization; a whaling station on South Georgia Island. Remarkably, Shackleton found the whalers and a rescue expedition was sent out to retrieve his team. All survived.
Years later Shackleton died while still a relatively young man. His body was laid to rest on South Georgia Island, as was his wish. Today, Shackleton’s grave is to an Explorer what Mecca is to Muslims: a holy pilgrimage for those driven by the impulse to explore. To have had the opportunity to pay my respects to Shackleton was a humbling experience to say the least and something I won’t too soon forget (Gord, I told Shackelton you’d be down this way eventually).
Now back on course, the familiar sound of the waves washing across the haul has returned, along with the hypnotizing swells from the open sea. It has been three days of awe-inspiring wildlife and a moment of modest reflection but like all great moments it is time to continue on to the next destination. We have begun our two-day voyage for Antarctica, our final destination before crossing the Drake Passage for Patagonia and then homeward bound.
See ya on the ocean,