By Hugues Goosse
Our mission is close to its end, even though the way back can still be long. After the post on the end of the measurements and the trip back to Princess Elisabeth station, this one is devoted to what we missed during those seven weeks.
The first point is without any doubt our family and friends. We all knew before leaving the conditions and the length of the stay. I think that none of us was really sad because of the separation but you only had to see the face of those who just gave a phone call or received an email to know how we missed our families.
A second element is food. Even though we have eaten nice frozen meals, we all dream of some fresh fruits, raw vegetables, grilled fished or meat. Each of us also has a special dish that he or she will find with pleasure when back home, being fries, a croissant, or a favourite yoghurt.
We will all be very happy to come back to more diverse and lighter clothes, without being obliged to wear the many layers that protect us against the cold. We will also find with pleasure some of our activities, being sportive or associative, and maybe the work and the colleagues?
We are even more aware than before of how a good internet connection can simplify your life, to check an information, translate a blog post, get a user’s guide, the update of a software, or find the solution to a problem on a forum.
Some of us has also mentioned the smells that they missed. The environment here is totally frozen and there is nearly no human activities. The variety of smells is thus limited. You do not have the smell of forest, of flowers, of fresh bread from the bakery or the ones that make you hungry when you walk in front of a fries shop.
There is still some very strong smells, like the one of the gasoline for the snowmobile, of the ESTISOL, our beloved drilling fluid or of the JET-A1, the fuel used here for many purposes as it do not freeze even in extreme conditions.
I will also be very happy to see again some colours like the green. In Antarctica, the white (for the snow and the clouds) and the blue (for the sky and the water) share nearly exclusively the landscape. In the evening, the sky may become pink and red and the mountains breaks the monotony of the horizon. The sight may be extraordinary but seeing again a pine forest or simply a meadow will seem exotic for a few days.
This may seem more surprising but I will also be happy to find back a kind of freedom. Driving a skidoo towards unspoiled areas, with no constrain except the track given by the GPS, might look like an absolute symbol of freedom.
We cannot deny it but our work had nothing do to with the journey of explorers.
The organisation of the day and the travels were strongly regulated by the logistics and the life of the group.
Each travel has to be announced and the longer ones conditioned to the weather. Our guide was accompanying us each time we go further than a few kilometres or we had to give news by radio or satellite phone every two hours to check that everything was going well.
Deciding simply what you want to do or where you want to go in the coming hour, without any discussion or specific safety rule to follow, will also have a particular taste.