Our ship MV Ushuaia braving the Southern Seas and heading to Ukrainian Academician Vernadsky Station. A misty horizon welcomes us in a new of our Antarctic adventure. We feel as blissful as is humanly possible.
Academician Vernadsky Station as seen from our zodiac under a soft but steady snowfall. Ukrainians bought the base from the British, formerly called Faraday. The price was symbolic: just one pound. The original coin now decorates the station lounge.
When you get ready to visit a working Antarctic scientific station prepare to tiptoe into a laboratory as a serious looking man with rounded glasses calls you to silence. Visiting Vernadsky was to going to be different. Firstly, a distance pole displays a variety of Ukrainian cities for which the accurate distance is quoted. Just in case you were looking for the highway to Kiev and took the wrong turn. This brings me memories, as when I was homeless in Odessa and was offered asylum by a Russian street musician from Ekaterinburg. The other call to absurd are the palm trees incorporated into the station’s name on one of the fuel tanks.
The most interesting point about Vernadsky Station is its bar. Rumour goes that the bar was built with wood originally reserved for a peer. It seems Ukrainians set their priority on securing where to dock their sorrows, not their ships. The base is noted for the home made vodka they destil and reportedly serve for free to those ladies willing to leave their bras as souvenir. In Antarctica bras get a more favourable exchange rate than rubles.
Gentoo penguins gossiping about our ship in nearby Petermann Island.
Back in our zodiacs we went for an iceberg cruise...
Here words become empty elements, wrong freight vehicles to convey my emotion as we float among ice sculptures in human-less continent. Over some icebergs we approach Wedell seals leaning on their siestas after a penguin lunch. Silence becomes an authority, there are no aromas... light and shapes becomes the only language the world speaks to you. Your mind may stay mute, but your heart is connected to that language being spoken directly into your soul. And you shed a tear.