Experiencing Silence in Antartica
Antarctica was a natural wonder.
It was the kind of place where you agree to bend towards the rules of the land if you want to survive. Out of respect for yourself and this special place, you kneel and bow.
During our trip, we met a British couple who was on their honeymoon! How lovely, that out of all of the tropical islands and exotic getaways, they chose one of the most desolate places on earth.
Surprisingly, winter in New Jersey was significantly colder than Antarctica! It was relatively mild, a balmy 0 degrees Centigrade, which was perfect for my family because my mom loves the cold and I love the snow.
But seriously, it was very mild. Firstly, it was summer in Antarctica. Secondly, there was no wind. And lastly, the water was still liquid, so it obviously wasn’t cold enough to freeze solid.
The trip as a whole, was rich in memorable moments with people, animals, and nature.
I learned about:
- G Adventures, the adventure travel company
- People, Planet, Profit, Purpose
- The founder of G Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip… By the age of 30, he had reached his 100th country!
- The role of sustainable tourism in economic development.
- What people will do to try to escape Antarctica (In this case, burn down a science station in hopes of a quick and guilt-free exit.)
- An unexpected friendship between the dinosaur-looking leopard seal and a human being.
- How penguins are very awkward on land…. They are constantly falling and tripping due to their own clumsiness. But they also get up every single time, which makes their resilience very admirable.
- And, silence
The emptiness and silence was amazing.
It would have been easy to dismiss the absence of noise for emptiness.
Because I do understand why people take thousands of pictures when they visit the middle of no where. There’s not much to do except for laugh, drink, and capture memories.
Also, this was one of the best places to take pictures.
However, it was also one of the best places to turn off the camera and put it away.
Everyday, I would escape into the eye-opening world of sustainable tourism by reading Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business, scribble down snippets of interesting conversations, or take a moment to step outside.
I loved standing on the ship’s deck, wrapped up in the silence of the world.
Out of everything we experienced, I found the emptiness to be the most remarkable part. It really is just you, a couple thousand penguins, an albatross, and a breathtaking view.
I was completely alone, engulfed by monumental mountains and treacherous icebergs.
And yes, it was terrifying to know that one small misstep might be deadly. But it was also incredible to find so much peace in this vulnerable state.
When I closed my eyes, I would hear nothing. And it felt incredible.
(Now, if we were visiting a penguin colony, that was a whole other story… There was no silence, only a cacophony of mating calls and penguin chatter.)
Because Antarctica was such an interesting experience, sometimes I am not sure how to answer the question: “How was Antarctica?!”
But I think if you’d really like to know what it was really like… next time you come across an opportunity to embrace silence, take the time to listen.
Listen, breathe in, and allow yourself to feel the emptiness before you exhale out.
And maybe, you will get a glimpse of what it is like at the edge of our Earth.
Originally published at tayzau.com on December 2, 2016.