We arrived back “ in civilization”, as passengers on the Ocean Nova, the ship that brought Flo and I back, called it. I guess they wanted to reassure us. It is indeed very weird to be back. So many people who we talked to at Lockroy told us that they had no words to describe what they saw and experienced other than ‘overwhelming’ and ‘indescribably beautiful’. I feel the same now, except that I’m here, back in the normal world with cars and trees and colours and noises and smartphones and internet. It is definitely overwhelming, not sure yet if it is beautiful though.
After Ben and Kath left we concentrated on the last ship and yacht visits and mostly on closing down the Base. Ticking off items from our extensive ‘to-do lists’ became the ambition, or obsession at times. So much so that we even forgot to eat the last evening and just downed 3 tubes of Pringles together with the festive champagne that we had reserved for the occasion.
The weather was really wintery and stormy and snowy. On the day of our departure the landing of a visiting ship was almost cancelled due to the weather. Were we going to get out? That question raised the ambiguous feeling of both fear and hope. We were ready but did not really want to leave.
Then Ocean Nova arrived. We welcomed the passengers and then worked intensely for 3 hours before I switched off the power and closed the door for the last time. The zodiac drive to the ship was a mixed feeling of relief because we had managed to tick off all that was on that long list of ours. But of course also a feeling of sadness to leave this great place and the good life there. We imagined our gentoos waving us out with a tear in the eye, but that was sheer projection. They could not have been more indifferent. I will really miss them though!
Kath and Ben have arrived safely and left Ushuaia already. Flo and I will leave ‘ el fin del mundo’ in a couple of days. We’re currently typing up reports and meeting some last people we became friends with at Lockroy. We’re already back to internet, Skype and flushing toilets as if we’ve never done without. I realised with a pinch of guilt and worry that Port Lockroy feels far away.
It’s too early to look back. The experience has to settle, just like a good pint of Guinness. All I know is that it was an amazing experience and we were very privileged to live on Goudier Island. Big thanks to the fantastic organisation and work of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and the smooth and fun co-operation with all the ships and yachts!!! And, last but most certainly not least, I really can’t say enough how happy I was to work and live with Ben, Kath and Flo!! Thanks guys for making this a great season! I so hope the four of us have been able to pass on all our passion and enthusiasm for Port Lockroy to the 18.000 visitors!!
Dear blog readers, thanks for following us this season and hope you will be back next season.
Ciao, also on behalf of Ben, Kath and Flo,