My journey southward; Antarctica Expedition 2009

Tues 25th Mar – Sun 5th Apr 2009

BP/2041 team all from SA :-)
BP/2041 team all from SA 🙂

25th March 2009

“We are about to commence landing…” I hear the captain bellow over the airoplane’s loudspeaker. I go in and out of sleep then finally turn to the window on my right. Wow! I’ve landed on a movie set! Watching the snow cap the mountain tops; the view is absolutely breathtaking! Well worth my 35 hour trip from Joburg.

I wake up groggily just before lunch to join the rest of the team who have already arrived. I still have jet lag and am quite dizzy entering into the dining room area. A group of people receive me warmly and as I go around the table introducing myself to each of them Peter Senge stands up. I could not help myself; I gave the man a hug! He has been in my life for 5 years after all with his incredible writing on systems change and group behaviour. How did I manage to sneak into this space?!

26th March 2009

As soon as Vivienne Cox, head of BP Alternative Energy welcomed us at the expedition; I knew that I had ‘come home’. These are my people! This a woman who understands the fundamentals required for real change to emerge, the power of collaboration and forming networks

Peter Senge facilitated a session focusing on scenarios that would unfold around commitments on CO2 emisions by various countries. These were catagorised as (1) Developed countries (2) Developing A and (3) Developing B. As the session progressed I became increasingly convicted about the fact that:
– the developing world needs ambassadors at global climate change negotiations. (The traditional West is still not afay with practices in Africa and the most systemic methods of contributing to positive change)
– we need education on climate change
– to take responsibility for our contribution of greenhouse gases and
– there is a need to lobby our governments on putting relevant policies in place
– in a global economy consumer countries need to take responsibility for emissions beyond ‘transfering blame’ to producer countries i.e. China. Responsibility for emisions needs to be shared on a more equitable basis.

A good part of our afternoon was hiking up Martial Glacier in Ushuaia. Not much fun in new boots and resulting in blisters on my feet! It was amazing though

28th March 2009

Wow, we are served consistently great food!

We are going through convergence into the Antarctic waters at the moment. The seas are a bit rough; but not heavily so. Objects keep flying around the cabin. I have not been feeling sea sick but the rocking ship certainly makes one feel light-headed.

We were briefed on how to embark and disembark from the zodiac today. I’m stunned that a few drops of coldwater hitting the back of my throat could drowned me; I hope that I got the procedure right.

29th March 2009

Storm in the Drake Passage
Storm in the Drake Passage

The infamous Drakes Passage. We’ve been on sea en route to the Antarctic for more than two days now! After a night of nightmares I awoke to a bang and soon realized that my water bottle was rolling around the cabin floor and quite a few things moved from desk to floor. We were swaying heavily. An announcement was made later on during the morning said that we’re in a gale force wind, and then finally a storm! One of the rules we learnt on day 1 was not negotiable today – one hand for the ship and one for yourself. Since finding balance in walking was really hard today; it was mostly crucial to have free hand to hold onto the ship when walking.

It’s interesting to hold the tension between having scheduled dialogue and being flexible enough to respond to whatever conditions the weather throws at us. We were originally meant to reach land at 07h45 but after the captain reduced acceleration for most of the day it is now unclear. Robert Swan (first man to have walked to both the South and North Poles) shared with us the story of his first Antarctic journey today entitled ‘Leadership on the Edge’. Call the man crazy – he is! He is however committed to the work he has done and is doing his bit to pass the baton.

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