I got off the ship several times while we were in Antarctica, usually in the morning. There was a specific time when crew members could leave the ship.
You had to apply to the list and get your gear for the outside. That included ski pants, deep rubber boots, and good gloves, and a warm hat. The Company didn’t want us to get sick so leaving the ship without some of these was impossible. We also got Life jackets, just in case we fell in the water. We would go with the research teams in big Zodiac boats.
The teams were specially selected people who had to go and explore the mainland early in the mornings before we got there. They had to map the places where we could go, which animals we could approach and how to behave in their presence and they needed to teach us how to get in and out of the Zodiacs.
All the wildlife in Antarctica is protected and a distance of a minimum of two meters was required. If a penguin was walking toward you, you had to freeze and let it pass by you.
There were instances when the bird walked to you and just stood there for fifteen minutes. No drastic movements were allowed and you just had to wait for the bird to move on. The penguins are a big attraction here and we took a lot of photos and videos of them. I loved the cute little things, even though they were very smelly.
I loved going through the intact snow and I made a huge number of photos there. How many people in the world can say they did that?
The most exciting thing was the last of five islands, the so-called Chilean base in the Antarctic.
From mid-November to mid-February a group of eleven officers, policemen and conservationists lived there. We got closest to the penguins on that island and it was amazing, I saw momma birds there with their young.
Three little houses were built there. One was a museum, the second was an observation point and the third was the living quarters for the people that were there.
They all had their sleeping rooms and a big communal room where the kitchen was. We sat and had coffee with them, it was a great experience.