This week I received my first blog-related email! It arrived in broken-English (always a red flag), from Oceanwide Expeditions, a company that had found my blog and was offering me a chance to win a 30-day trip to Antarctica! All I had to do was simply find 20 people to vote for me to be in the running. My first reaction, after dismissing the idea of going to Antarctica as crazy even if the email wasn’t spam, was “I write a literary/historical travel blog, did they even look at my blog?” And then it hit me, I COULD think of a book related to Antarctica. One of the books my father read to me when I was young was Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.
Summary: Explorer Ernest Shackleton set out for Antarctica in 1914 with his crew on the ship Endurance. Upon arriving almost at their target location, the Endurance lodges in the ice. Unable to free themselves, the men are forced to evacuate the ship before the ice crushes it into a tangle of logs and planks. Having saved the ship’s three lifeboats, the men amazingly spend the next 10 months living on the ice. With not much hope in store, Shackleton eventually decides to attempt a mission with one of the lifeboats and a third of the men to the closest point of land where he could find a ship and return for the rest of his crew. Using first hand accounts, the author chronicles the incredible story and survival of Shackleton and his expedition.
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I distinctly remember the passage in the book describing the crew rejoicing when the weather warmed up to zero degrees. The men had acclimatized and noted that they were able to wear t-shirts again because the weather had warmed up. This thought didn’t make Antarctica any more appealing to me.
I wondered, was this what my dad had been preparing me for? Vacations to Antarctica? I thought about the other books he read to me… The Hobbit. Peter Pan. Definitely not. Antarctica was destined to remain just as fictional as the Shire or Never Never Land. Although, now visiting the Shire seems to have become somewhat of a reality in New Zealand, so I suppose anything is possible…
More out of curiosity as to whether this company was legit, I googled and found the website. The company seems to be based in the Netherlands, which could account for the broken-English which also pervaded the website- but I doubt it. Scrolling quickly down the contest page I found under “trip highlights” a photo of a rather shabby looking interior of a hut. I thought, is this what they’re advertising as lodgings? ‘Cause no thanks. When I slowed and looked closer I noticed above it, the photo was labeled “Shackleton’s Hut”. Wow! I had no idea Shackleton’s hut was still preserved as a historic location in Antarctica! Seeking out Shackleton’s Antarctic hut really could be a literary inspired adventure of a lifetime!
Then my senses returned to me. First, I don’t think I really want to spend 30 days on a ship. Anywhere. And second, I already live in a cold climate. If I’m going to travel, I’d rather not spend a month in somewhere EVEN COLDER.
So thanks for the offer, but I just don’t think I really want to go to Antarctica. I deleted the email.
Now if your company wants to send me, to say, the South of France…