Open for business 01/12/19
The most frequent questions of the week: What day is it? Is that really the time?! Lucy, can you reset the BGAN*?
It’s Monday morning, you fall out of bed, make a hot beverage and get ready for the commute to work. Usual questions run through your mind: Have the icebergs gone yet? Will I see any new human faces today? How long is too long without a shower? Monday morning in Port Lockroy and we rushed to the window to witness what some may call a modern-day miracle: THE ICE HAD GONE. Our surrounding landscape had gone from a sheet of glistening white to an expanse of sea overnight, which enabled us after seven days to welcome adventurers onto our island. A sense of excitement filled the air as we set up for our first full day of ship visits with the island fully prepped and ready to go.
We embraced the first few days and learnt many lessons along the way. Between us, we have four degrees, three masters and one PhD and yet somehow running a shop and dealing with technology in Antarctica is apparently not taught in higher education. Things can go wrong and there is no 24 IT helpline to support so you must work methodically through potential solutions.
Problems we have solved in the shop this week:
“The card machine isn’t working, keep calm there’s only a queue of thirteen people everything is absolutely fine. Is it still turned on? No, no it is not.” Solution: Turn on the card machine
“I’ve sold a magnet for $50million dollars, help?!” Solution: Don’t scan the barcode in the cash box
“Connection error – Lucy, can you reset the BGAN?” Solution: always keep Lucy in touching distance of the BGAN.
Despite our initial challenges once we got to grips with all the systems, names of merchandise and mastered the art of the forty-five-minute super swap the fun began.
Throughout this week visitors have asked us what a typical day looks like and no two days are the same. A highlight for us all has been hosting the women of “Homeward Bound” who all come from a STEM background. For those who crowdfunded towards the cost of the expedition a return for a sponsor was a postcard from Port Lockroy, we emptied the post box three times throughout their visit. Definitely a new record!
Not only did the ice moving allow us to welcome people ashore it also enabled us to welcome our first Cargo drop of the season thanks to Lindblad’s MS National Geographic Explorer. There were discussions as to what would have happened if the ice didn’t move and our cargo had to go back to Ushuaia and interestingly, we discussed how comfortable we were eating each other before we even considered eating any form of wildlife and as a vegetarian I offered myself first in line. Fortunately for me, the cargo was able to be delivered, so with multiple zodiac deliveries, an army of staff from the MS National Geographic Explorer and many human chains later all of our food for the season, merchandise, cleaning products, stationery and various other things arrived safely and were now stored in the boatshed. It took us less than 24 hours to source the vital lifesaving items: Jaffa Cakes and Pringles.
On the topic of food, in the early afternoon towards the end of one ship visit, I heard whispers from guests that we were being delivered a package. A package? What could this be? I popped my head out the door and there stood Kit with a green crate full of cardboard boxes. There were rumours of lettuce, carrots and even cheese! It was like Christmas eve knowing something amazing is in the near future but is just out of reach. We waved off the team and hurried to cash up to go and investigate the generous gift. What we got was beyond comprehension. Not only was there fresh food, an absolute delight after tinned cuisine, but there were six individually made up lunch boxes of hot food. Deliveroo in Antarctica who would have thought?! We want to thank all the ships for their generosity this week from hand-delivered lunches to our first glorious shower to freshwater to laundry. We are so grateful as, I suspect, are you after meeting us at the end of our seven-day shower free expedition.
Antarctica has no native population but as you can see there is no shortage on the sense of community throughout the summer season and it begins in our very own Nissen hut. The first full week of anything new can always feel chaotic but this has been remedied by the thoughtfulness of our resident conservation team. As well as their vast amounts of work with artefacts and the museum Lizzie and Sophie have lightened our load from making our beds when we came back from an onboard shop to making the world’s best frittata. Thank you both!
So here we are one week completed, 7000 postcards posted, 250 magnets sold and a fresh clean set of bedding. Happy Antarctica day everyone!
Base A, Port Lockroy, Antarctica
*BGAN – satellite connection for email and till machines