So I was feeling sickly the first days here, but my sinus issues have mostly all gone and I’ve adapted to the altitude. I haven’t gotten used to how dry the air is down here, I really should have brought a humidifier but maybe there’s an extra lying around somewhere that I can borrow.
The first few weeks are tough on most people. Many of us have been getting strange nightmares and have had trouble sleeping. Something to do with the altitude, I think. Despite the nightmares, I’ve been sleeping pretty well the last few days. My window is all boarded up with cardboard and I wear an eye mask to help block out the perpetual sunlight. Sometimes I can hear the LC-130’s through my earplugs, but usually I sleep through the ruckus. Usually I get off my shift around 7am, then I go get dinner, or have breakfast for dinner, and then I fall asleep sometime around 8:30 or 9am. Wake-up sometime around 5 or 6pm, have breakfast while everyone else is eating dinner, and then hang out with my buddies until I have to work around 10 or 11pm.
One thing that most people don’t believe—the food here is SO GOOD! Even us vegetarians are well fed. Today I went digging through the leftovers fridge to find some dinner, since my dinner is breakfast time for everyone else, and I came out with mashed potatoes, collard greens and vegetable paella. The other day I ate some leftover deep-fried mac and cheese for lunch with some potato salad and a slice of pineapple cake. Fridays are usually steak nights for the meat-eaters here. Seriously! Steak! I saw there were doughnuts out this morning and I hope there are some left… Okay I actually just ran to the galley to grab a doughnut before they ran out. Yummm.
Last night was my first night off! What do you do with a night off here? I woke up around 5:30pm, as usual, went to Joe-ga (yoga led by Joe), and then listened to one of the fuelies (guys who work with fuel?) gave a presentation about a 9-month bike trip he took from Greece to Russia. I am just blown away by the incredible people I’ve met here. Such a variety of backgrounds and many cool stories to share.
The rest of the night I stayed up watching movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Airplane, Good Bye Lenin). I probably could have done something a bit more productive with all this free time, but the movie lounge has such comfy couches… I guess next time I’ll go to the music room and play the guitar, or maybe I’ll get my act together and write my personal statement for grad school applications. Luckily our only satellite/internet access is between 1am and 1pm, which means I’m the only one using the bandwidth from about 1-4am. Slightly better, but the connection still sucks.
Other notes about surviving at the South Pole:
- Internet is only accessible via Ethernet port. I think the last time I used an Ethernet cord was freshman year of college. Luckily they provide the cords… because who uses them anymore? No Wifi for instagram, a tragic loss. Also, if you have a new fancy laptop like a MacBook Air or something, you need an adaptor of some sort for internet access because they don’t make computers with Ethernet ports anymore.
- Keeping busy. If I didn’t have so many things to distract myself with I would be going insane already (the night shift is pretty lonely). Luckily I have this blog to write, about 30 books on my iPad, and thousands of movies to choose from here. They even have quite the collection of TV series on DVD. Half of the Pole’s movie collection is on video cassette. Let’s see if I remember how to use a VCR…
- Practical jokes are fun. We found some Justin Beiber duct tape in the met office… Let’s just say it’ll be put to good use!