Archive | December, 2009

Here goes!

10 Dec

Hey folks,

This is going to be real quick post, I have been running around like a headless chicken all day, buying new shoes, new clothing, and other supplies, like shampoo and shaving cream (Its been a long time since buying that).

I have also been trying to get my medical completed. This involved going to one place to get my x-ray done, another place for my blood, faecal matter and urine sample, another place for my cardio gram, then collecting all the results and taking them to a doctor to do the medical. So I got the stamp of approval on my medical exam. But there were still a few tests I couldn’t complete due the results not being ready (it takes a week for the results to come back from Buenas Aires), so it still comes down to the doctor onboard giving me the go ahead to be able to embark the boat. Here is the email I received:

I advised the ship (Hotel Director and the Doctor) that you will show up tomorrow morning at the pier with all the paperwork. The Doctor will check your medical exams and based on his judgment you will be allowed to board…or not.

Good luck to you and all the best

So yep that’s it folk, tomorrow at 9am (in 10hours) I will be arriving at the pier where the cruise ship is. All going well I will spend the day getting my induction and then the boat leaves in the evening. If you haven’t heard from me in the next couple of days, it means I’m on my way to Antarctica! It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I haven’t had time to sit down and take it in, but it is very close, very close indeed, infact I just saw the boat pull up to the pier.

Oh yeah, another thing, those of you in New Zealand should check out this coming Sunday Star Times, my PR manager Barney (I pay him in smiles) got me an article with the lovely Emma. Those of you not in NZ will be able to view the article on line, just google Sunday Star Times.

OK folks, cheers for all the support, fingers crossed. Butterflies.

Advertisements

Bad news

8 Dec

The dreadlocks have gone!

I received this email today from the recruitment company I have been dealing with for the job I’m waiting for,

Would you be able to send me your current picture? Our client has certain requirements with regards to hairstyle and I want to make sure yours is acceptable for the vessel’s management.

Boom, I read that, shut the computer down, straight to the hair dressers which was ironically called “new looks”. I walk in and get confused looks, like “mate you’re a hippy, hippy’s don’t get haircuts, haven’t you looked in the mirror”. I say, “I don’t care what you do, just make me look like a 6 star waiter, and please excuse me if I start crying during the process”.

Yep so it looks like I’m going start being carded when going to the pub again, and if it was possible people tell me I look even skinnier! Haha, but Antarctica is getting closer, and by the way, I haven’t cried yet even after I cut myself shaving (twice!).

 

 

 

Here’s the before shot again, when I used to look like I had been through puberty.

 

Waiting in Paradise

7 Dec

The waiting game is a bit of a mind game, constantly trying to keep the mind positive. It’s easy to be positive when things are going well, the real test is to be positive when things are going pear shaped, or in the unknown. But feeling good.

It’s a funny ol game though, do you think positively, “I’ve got the job”, or do you set-up a contingency plan in case it doesn’t work out. By thinking positively you build up your expectations, therefore setting your self up to be let down. My philosophy has been to think positive, and then deal with it when it happens, but easier said than done. Ahhhhh, the good ol mind games aye, us humans are great creatures aren’t we. OK, just thoughts.

I’m not good at waiting; in my opinion if you’re waiting you’re dying, valuable seconds of life you’re not going to get back. My plan was to go camping and hiking and get to know these beautiful mountains that surround this town at the end of the world.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t permit camping, rain, rain, and a lot of the 2 day hikes are still closed due to snow. But in a stroke of luck I met Scottish couple Pablo and Alena and Austrian Peter. We hit it off straight away as Pablo and Alena had very similar relationship troubles with immigration as Mandy and I had, Pablo also getting denied entry into Alenas home country etc, etc. So the past couple of days have been hiking, getting lost, laughing and trudging through bog. Been having a ball, Check out the photos.

Yeah not the best weather for camping when you have a cheap Paraguayan tent that’s meant for 30 degree summers.

Lost again, the swamp has eaten the path again.

Good looking back over the ground you have covered.

Not a bad lunch spot, the clouds parted and the sun managed to pop through, Gold.

The Emerald Lake

Heading up to the Glacier

We made it, time for a cuppa.

Pablo’s vertigo set in, entertaining for us not so much for him.

Me rocking Pablos 1983 ski glasses. Ushuaia in the background.

 

I’ve done everything I can do

5 Dec

Still waiting for an email from the cruise ship, but realistically won’t hear back from them until next week, so I’m off hiking and camping for the weekend.

My plan for this post is to document my efforts to find work in Antarctica. I have basically exhausted all options, now it’s just a matter of keeping in contact with them and playing the waiting game, but lets hope I’m on that boat headed to Antarctica at the end of this week! This post is more for my future reference, it may be a bit boring for you, but please read on if you want. If anyone can think of anything else I can try please let me know. OK, here goes my Antarctic work time line from what I can remember.

2007
– First realised that I had to actually to go Antarctica!

  • Innocently started surfing the web about working in Antarctica – ohhhh, there’s Science Bases down there, I’ll just go and work in one of those, that was easy. I started emailing them and getting information, found out that bases do an annual recruitment at the start of each year for the coming summer season October to March. Spent countless hours surfing the web, building up Antarctic work knowledge.

     

 

 

2008

  • Applied for cleaning and field support roles at New Zealand’s Scott Base (100 people applied for 2 cleaning positions)
  • Joined my mines Emergency Response Team to make myself more Antarctic Employable. Gained qualifications in first aid (emergency first responder), rope rescue and hands of experience in fire fighting, search and rescue etc

     

  • Joined the mines airport ground crew, gaining experience in unloading, marshalling, refuelling.

     

     

  • Contacted the NZ armed forces who run the shop at Scott Base, and have kept in contact.
  • Applied to US Mcmurdo Base through NANA services. I even talked Mandy into applying as well, she ended up getting accepted, but turned it down as her unemployable Antarctic boyfriend didn’t get accepted (why would you go to the trouble of getting a work visa for a kiwi when there are 300 millioin Americans that are quite capable of cleaning a toilet)
  • Looked into the 4 Australian Bases but they only have qualified specialised positions, ie nothing that I can do
  • Looked into the Antarctic Logistical companies, most notably Raytheon, but once again it’s an American company and would only supply a work visa to a specialised position.
  • Looked in the British Antarctic Survey.

  • Emailed various Antarctic heritage trusts that look after the heritage sites, the old huts down there. For example the British heritage program that runs a souvenir shop and post office in Port Lockroy.
  • Started to look into cruise ships, sent out emails to Antarctic cruise ship companies I found on the net.

     

2009

  • With all my new rescue qualifications and experience, applied as a cleaner for New Zealand’s Scott Base again (from my past years experience it is basically the only base I have a chance at getting into).
  • Applied for a volunteer position to paint the exterior window sills of Scott Base for the New Zealand Antarctic society.
  • Kept in contact with the Armed Forces about work in the Scott Base shop.
  • Emailed universities
  • After unsuccessful base applications my focused moved to cruise ships. So Mandy and I decided to move to Argentina, the home of Ushuaia where the Antarctic bound cruise ships leave from.
  • I contacted all 52 companies that are registered under the IAATO (Antarctic tour operator governing body). Found out most boats were already staffed, a lot of boats have Russian boat crew and Pilipino hospitality staff.

 

 

  • Followed up all the new leads I got from the 52 companies.
  • Emailed the cruise ship recruitment companies.
  • Before arriving in Ushuaia, had business cards, t-shirts printed, jacket printed.
  • Emailed all my cruise ship contacts, cruise ship recruitment agencies etc, telling them that I was in Ushuaia, willing to do anything and ready depart immediately. (4 months ago when I arrived in Paraguay I contact all 52 companies registered under the IAATO to work in Antarctica).
  • Visited the two cruise ship companies that actually have offices here in Ushuaia.

     

     

  • Went to the Prefectura (Its like the navy guys, boating division, something like that, they are in charge of all the goings on in the harbour) and asked about work, getting my zodiac licence (zodiac is the name of the inflatable boats that take passengers from the cruise ships to the land for an outing etc)
  • Tried to get into the port where the cruise ships were, but couldn’t pass security guards.
  • Made numerous trips to the yacht club to see if I could help crew boats to get experience, also approached the big yachts to see if they were going to Antarctica and needed anyone.

     

 

  • Went and asked at the Naval base to see if they had a way for me to get to Antarctica, but was told that the Navy boats that go to Antarctica leave from Buenos Aires.
  • Approached the local newspaper and got them to publish an article on my quest.
  • Visited the fishing companies that operate in Antarctica
  • Contacted DAP airlines that fly to Antarctica
  • Contacted Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions that have a base at Patriot Hills in Antarctica, the only private company to operate on Antarctica.

     

     

     

  • Went down to port and waited at the entrance/exit with letters for the captains and staff managers on the boat
  • Went to local port agents and shipping agents
  • Did interview with journalist friend Vicky who is going to do another article on me.

     

     

  • Contacted SCAR (Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research) and got the list of all countries that have Antarctic science bases.
  • Then I emailed all the countries that have science bases in Antarctica, and even the ones that don’t but have Antarctic interests. I offered to volunteer and do whatever work available.
  • I have been in contact with 2041,I have talked about them in previous posts, a great company, a great cause, I really want to be a part of it. I went and met the founder Robert Swan the other day at the airport after reading his book in 3 days, great guy, very positive, if I have time I will write about it.

     

     

    So that’s about it, I would of missed something out, but that’s what I can remember for now. If you have any ideas, I’m all ears, and remember, cross those fingers!

My life the last 3 weeks.

2 Dec

Hey folks, I’m still waiting for the cruise ship to hear back from the HR department, this was the email I received a couple of minutes ago:

No news but this is not uncommon. Our mills grind slowly most of the time.
Have fun on the hike and I’ll let you  know if and when anything comes up.

So fingers crossed and I will just keep playing the waiting game (can’t say I’m enjoying the waiting, will prob head off for a hike) 

Today marks day 22 in Ushuaia for me, a place I have become to love, the 4 seasons in one day, the haphazard construction of houses that look like a jumble of lego blocks on a child’s bedroom floor, but they give me a feel of home with the Bach feel about them (for the international readers, a bach is a New Zealand holiday home where the emphasis is on comfort and not flashiness). After land locked Paraguay I am eating up being by the ocean, the mountains. Yesterday I went walking up in the mountains, perched myself on a log, overlooking Ushuaia, watched a cruise ship leave the port, then it started to snow, it’s times like that it’s hard not to get philosophical, yeah the brains been going overtime of late.

One thing I don’t like about Ushuaia, the dogs, it is one angry breed of dog they have down here, they are like the P addicts of dogs. The locals are always telling me to watch out for the dogs, and the other day a friend got bitten while riding her bike. There are dogs in the streets everywhere, stray ones that live in the mountains and in the street. I went for a run the other day, lets just say there were a few occasions where I thought I would have to change my underwear. The dogs are so big here that the local even ride them, check the photo out below!

So what have I been doing here in Ushuaia the past 22 days. Well my life has basically consisted of sleeping in a 6 bedroom dorm, which I don’t mind until the room mates have to catch the 5am bus (the only time bus that leaves Ushuaia), nah it’s all good, met some great people. My original plan was to sleep in my tent, but I don’t think my budget Paraguayan tent would stand up to the snow and wind here, or me for that matter! Plus the hostel has proved invaluable as a meeting place of Antarctic bound travellers with inside knowledge, and not to mention the staffs have been super helpful. I spend my days sitting in “my office” in the hostel (photo below is me in the chair that I call my office). I am basically a part of the furniture here. I am like a beach as the Travellers come and go like the tide – Gosh I’m getting quite poetic aren’t I? Is there a nobel prize for poetry, or maybe I one for talking crap!

People come back from sightseeing and doing boat trips to walk with the penguins, or to see the light house at the bottom of the world, or visiting the numerous museums, or hiking to the glacier and they usually say “are you still there?”. So that’s what I have been doing. Although I did a cool bike trip the other day and went out to the Playa Larga with a great view back over Ushuaia with the mountains as the back drop. I have also been numerous dinners with fellow couch surfers and news friends; it’s not all sitting in the chair, well during the day yes. Good times.

It’s quite funny, travellers arrive and ask me what there is to do in Ushuaia? I just say “theres a national park, or a hike to a glacier, apparently some boats rides etc, I heard they are all pretty good”, “so how long have you been here?” “3 weeks” “oh”. But for me, I’m not here to be a tourist, the reason I am here is Antarctica. I also think I have reached a saturation point in my travels, I need some normality, you know how it is when you been something for a while, it’s like eating chocolate, the first pieces are amazing, then after that its just something you put and in your mouth and eat, you still like it but its not as amazing as the first pieces. That’s when you need to put the chocolate away and have it later when you crave it again. Don’t get the wrong idea I like travel and chocolate, I think I just need a bit of normal life and routine to remind me how amazing travelling is again, at the moment the travel scene is my reality, normality and routine sound quite inviting, a holiday even – haha listen to me, I bet right now all the people sitting in their offices reading this want to inflict some sort of pain on me. OK, I best shut up and wrap this up.

I’m off to play the waiting game. Crickey, I just looked at that photo of me in the chair, I will have to photo shop some arms into that photo! And no I haven’t picked up a herion addiction whilst being in Ushuaia, I just have athletic arms!

Nuthin but love Hap