Last night I dreamed of Antarctica, the first time since I came back from the expedition a year ago. It feels now like another life in another world, so far that it was even beyond the reach of dreams. But out of the blue, the snow petrel - spirit of Antarctica, flew into my dreamland last night and coloured it with her fluttering wings the tenderness of the cherry blossom - colour of the sky at the continent's sunrise.
On November 8, 2011, we embarked the Akademic Ioffe, a Russian research vessel hired by OneOcean Expeditions to leave Ushuaia among the first of the season. It would then charge through the notoriously violent water of Drake Passage toward Antarctica Peninsula for a 13 day adventure Off the Beaten Track.
Thirteen long days and twelve short nights, stormy or peaceful, passed fast, filled with zodiac landings, whale encounters, trekking through penguin colonies, Antarctic albatross watching, scientific, history and photography workshops, and visits to spots of old whaling stations and the British Port Lockroy...However, the most memorable for me was that extremely quiet hour on the upper deck of our ship waiting for the sunrise. The Antarctic sky in early summer does not get really dark, but the sun does set and rise with a few hours in between. At 3am, I was up with my camera to catch the first ray of light in the sky. It was so quiet that I could hear a fleeting sigh of my heart when the tips of the snow hills were brightened by a gentle pink light. The pink spread but didn't seem to grow in intensity as time elasped. Then it was transformed into a colour of peach that gradually filled up half of the sky with the other half brighten into a light blue. Everything was just the opposite of being intense, but the tenderness penetrated so forcefully that it almost moved me to tears. I had never seen such purity and beauty that stood so aloof from any worldly existence.
If the roaming lives on the grasslands of East Africa connects me to the raw vitality of mankind's birth place, then the solitude, peace and tenderness of Antarctica suggests to me the gate of heaven, a passage to eternity. Somebody said that a trip to Antarctica is a once-in-a-life-time experience, but it is for me a start of an inspired life journey in pursuit of permanent beauty that lies in unspoiled landscapes as well as in unspoiled human hearts.
(Photos from Antarctica can be found in the album The Last Great Wilderness on Earth.)
13个长长的白昼和12个短短的暗夜转眼即逝, 经历过暴风雪，也经历过平安夜，期间有首次乘橡皮艇登岸南极的激动，观察鲸群掠过的兴奋，对企鹅栖息地寻访的好奇，用相机追逐海燕的紧张，又有在种种科学、历史、艺术、摄影讲座学习的满足，遥望废弃的捕鲸站想起小说《白鲸》时的不可思议，参观英国科考站Port Lockroy时的翩翩遐想，然而全程最令我难忘的是在游船甲板上等待南极日出的寂静的一个小时。南极的初夏不会有完全的黑夜，但仍有相隔几小时的日出日落。清晨3点，我带上相机出去扑捉第一缕晨光。四周安静极了，静得让我可以听到偶尔掠过心头的一声轻轻的叹息，那样轻的叹息，好像怕惊扰了此时照在雪山顶部那极淡极柔的粉色光芒。时间的推移中，这粉色漫漫扩大，可仍然极淡极柔美，之后又不知不觉地转变成桃色，渲染了大部分天空，留下一部分渐渐成为浅浅的天蓝。所有色彩都与强烈相反，而这温柔脱俗的力量却强大到让我热泪盈眶。我从未见过这样脱离一切世俗之存在的纯美。