IWA Travel Blog


Eating One’s Way to the South Pole – Who Better to Go Than Anthony Bourdain?

The other night I was watching “Parts Unknown” with Anthony Bourdain about Antarctica.  (You can catch it in reruns on CNN, and here is their preview page). As I watched the flight taking him and his crew into McMurdo Station on the south pole it brought back some great memories of my trip to South Georgia, the Falkands and the Antarctica Peninsula. Bourdain was dressed like any modern well dressed Antarctic explorer would be with his bright red parka, white air boots, warm hat, big mittens and many layers underneath–looking quite dapper for an explorer, I might add. 
He flew into McMurdo where not many people actually get to go due to its remoteness and the research that is done there.  The vastness, the white, the ragged, peaked mountains, the glaciers, penguins waddling around on the snow and the 24 hours of sunlight brought back my memories in a flash. The Gentoo penguins reminded me of what little thieves they really were. On one of our landings on the Peninsula we were dropped off at a Gentoo colony and I sat watching one little guy steal rocks from a nearby nest to build up his own nest area.  Each rock he stole brought a screaming beak lashing from the other penguin nest-owner but that did not deter our little thief–he was very persistent. After about half a dozen rocks, and being chased off each time, he turned and had a very dejected, sad, head-hung-low look of shame as he went back to his own nest.  He stood for a few moments with utter sadness, then picked up the first rock he had stolen, returning it.  He did this six times until all the rocks (and they were the original rocks) had been returned. I was amazed at this seeming display of quilt and restitution. 

“The first year I came for the adventure, the second year I came for the money and the third year I came because I no longer fit in anywhere else”.

Bourdain’s plane flying in over a vastness and endless sea of white before landing in a community hub where everyone has many duties to keep the station running like a top reminded me of remote places in the Arctic I had been, though this is the opposite end of the planet. Everyone has several jobs.  Even the scientists that are studying and recording climate change have additional jobs–it is not an easy place to be. But the food looked amazing, given the distance it has to travel to get to the table. Even so, it’s given less attention than in many of his other programs in the series. 
I was very lucky and happy to be in Antarctica on Christmas Eve – it snowed a bit, looking like a Hallmark moment. I’ve spent weeks in the Arctic on our polar bear trips, but I really can’t imagine what it would truly be like stationed in such a far-flung outpost for several months at a time with the remoteness, endless beauty and light, but I think I’d like to find out. Various staff members were interviewed for the show about life in the frozen boonies. But one gentleman really stuck out in my mind, commenting “The first year I came for the adventure, the second year I came for the money and the third year I came because I no longer fit in anywhere else”. I got that statement! I knew the meaning well. 
Antarctica is a truly remarkable, remote, scenic, adventurous and serene place to travel to.  It is not for everyone but for those who love penguins, seals, whales, quiet (well there is nothing quiet about a million penguins squawking), icebergs and adventure, a true trip of a lifetime!
(For a fun read, check out our Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica trip log!)
— Susie Green, Director

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