“Nothing Has Changed…and Everything Has Changed”
Lat: 54° 53’ S, Long: 67° 42’ W
Wind: no data
David Bowie’s lyrics from the song “Sunday” are certainly true. As I stepped off of the MV Ushuaia today, nothing seemed to have changed, but yet many things had changed in the course of the past 20 days.
Last night we had rounded Cape Horn, and it was the first opportunity to see land from a continent other than Antarctica since we departed from Ushuaia on December 2nd. What a strange sensation, to see land without snow or ice, and to reflect on the extent of our travels in a 3-week time period.
Our home away from home…the MV Ushuaia had been a comfortable vessel, I never felt crowded or cramped as I thought I might, although my two rooms were a bit tiny…they were ample space and most of our time was spent up in the lounge, dining, and common areas. That’s where the action and learning was…that’s where the bonhomie, the cheerful friendliness and geniality of the Homeward Bound women (and the few men involved who were also awesome) was most evident. I didn’t want to be in my room missing anything, except for my day of sea sickness…and even then I was crushed that I couldn’t be with my friends up on deck.
Just the mere mention of Antarctic explorers like Ernest Shackleton brought to mind tales of adventure in the very same places that we had just visited. Those Heroic Age explorers paved the way for the Antarctic continent to be explored and preserved for peaceful scientific purposes 40-50 years or so after they first sailed to the region. Anyone who hasn’t heard of Shackleton…look him up in my previous blogs, because I’ve written about him before.
Greg’s handwritten list of where we had traveled and landed each day was a constant reminder of days spent in amazement and in awe of such raw beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Ocean. Certainly our impressions of the beauty this planet holds has changed and been enhanced by our expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula.
After breakfast our luggage was offloaded from the ship, and we disembarked into the port city of Ushuaia, and people scattered like dust in the wind. Some went exploring the town again, others stuck around by the dock as long as they could, and many went back to our hotel perched on a hill overlooking the city…where we could gaze back at the harbor and see our tiny ship, nestled among the larger vessels. Today was a turn-around day…the MV Ushuaia would be receiving a new group of passengers and departing later today. It was so sad to think that we wouldn’t be on the ship…but made me happy to think of new passengers having an experience similar to ours and learning so much about the unique Antarctic continent. Not many have this opportunity…it is very special.
Notice my big yellow bag…it seems to be traveling Pole to Pole this year! That bag has now been to 78 degrees north latitude (Arctic Svalbard) and 64 degrees south latitude in 6 months! But, it’s been to McMurdo before…so 77 degrees south. It’s a well-traveled bag for sure! I can report to you now, it’s not looking so bright and yellow after the trip home from South America!
What a kick it was to see everyone, including myself, immediately jump onto their phones or electronic devices that haven’t worked while at sea. All sorts of notification sounds could be heard the minute everyone got back to the world of Wi-Fi. I have to say, I really enjoyed being disconnected during most of this trip. I only logged on to email to check with home, and I didn’t even do that every day. The number of back-logged email and WhatsApp messages was a bit staggering, and then there were also posts being added by Homeward Bound participants at a startling rate…everyone was checking in with their world and posting in each other’s social media realms! Heads down…clicking away on phones, iPads, and computers, people rarely seemed to come up for air. The need to be connected 24/7 was certainly something that had changed throughout the voyage. I was in a bit of shock now that we were back on land!
Personally, being connected with nature and with the people right in front of me these past few weeks was awesome. I also (and some would find this hard to believe) made a huge effort to step back from the camera many times…on the ship, during landings, or on zodiac excursions… to just soak it all in and observe, breathe the fresh air, listen carefully for sounds of nature, and to imprint the fascinating land and seascapes of Antarctica in my mind forever. I enjoyed many peaceful moments of reflection. It’s not often we get to have this time…and it is such a gift.
How could I not be in awe when I was immersed in scenery like this each day?
Later in the day we had a sort of Homeward Bound de-brief session in a giant ballroom at the resort, decorated for an evening of fun on the way. Sharing last comments, expressions, thoughts, and how we move forward…just part of the conversations taking place.
I’m thankful for so many people who were part of this voyage…like my triad members Carol (from Canada) and Deborah (from France, living in the UK), and the faculty who devoted their time and resources in a HUGE way…not just for this journey but for many months prior to our voyage. Fabian’s dream had become a reality…and what a reality it was, a cadre of talented, brilliant women…learning together, forming collaborations, becoming better leaders, and each designing their own strategic plan to move forward in life. I’m very grateful for the faculty, Fabian, Kit, Julia, Songqiao, Marshall, Justine, and Mary-Anne and our talented film crew, AND Greg…their ideas, their wisdom, their commitment to us every step of the way. We all experienced varying levels of change…how we have changed because of this program, how we want to change when we jump back into our lives, families, and careers. CHANGE…it’s happening all around us…and we are more aware than ever.
(Photo posted on Facebook by Homeward Bound; faculty in photo include Justine Shaw, Mary-Anne Lea, Fabian Dattner, Marshall Cowley, and Julia May. Others pictured, HB’s Hayley Young and I can’t tell who is behind the arm…maybe participant Tracey, were also HUGE support for our program).
Our film crew…Dale, Gary, Ili and Pete… (photo supplied by a HB participant)
And I’ll feature Greg soon!
As we sat down to dinner on this drizzly night, a shout came up from the crowd that our tiny ship was leaving on its new journey…and a collective sigh of sadness filled the room. Our mood at that moment matched the dreariness out the window. The MV Ushuaia is the tiny ship in the middle/bottom of the photograph.
The women of Homeward Bound danced and celebrated late into the night, and although the journey on the Southern Ocean is now completed…our journey together is far from over. “Nothing Has Changed…and Everything Has Changed”
Leaving you today (but not forever…more blog posts to come) with one of my favorite videos from the expedition. Our penguin escorts brought great joy as we were homeward bound. Enjoy!
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” ~Lord Byron, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”