Dan Weinstein - December, 1996

    From: Dan Weinstein, Palmer Station

As we write in the Teacher's Guide the science done in the Antarctic critically depends upon the support teams who keep the Zodiacs in shape, staff the labs, cook the food, and keep the scientists in touch with their universities back home.

Dan Weinstein is a "GA", General Assistant, working for Antarctic Support Associates, ASA, which is NSF's contractor for all logisitics and support activities in the Antarctic. He's been at Palmer since summer 1996, and he's going to be working with the LFA 2 team during the upcoming live broadcasts.

This Journal is eloquent testimony to the presence in the Antarctic of a variety of people with varied experiences who make up the USAP. It also shows that along with very hard work and sometimes dangerous circumstances, the Antarctic invites its visitors to reflect deeply upon the paths which led them here, and express themselves, in diaries and in letters to others,in ways that are as much literature as "journal-ism".


Tue, 3 Dec 1996 09:31:31 -0500
This morning I woke up early 'cause I was gonna run up the glacier with Mary. As it turned out, I didn't run up the glacier. I tried, but I run out of breath instead. Just went up to the first tower and waited for Mare to come back, surveying our Antarctic landscape instead. The morning had a strange light, sort of a gold and gray. The sea was calm, silent, endless.

Thu, 5 Dec 1996 22:50:49 -0500
Thunder. I think that's what it sounds like when chunks of ice and snow fall off the glacier. Well, I saw a huge section fall into the harbor today.

Remember I mentioned Mary (she ran up the glacier, I panted for a few minutes then walked then waited for her one crazy aerobic morning)? Well Robert (Gumby) is finally gonna marry her. I teach them both Spanish. They give me wine, and chocolate covered coffee beans, and they accompany me on excursions in exchange for the lessons. Mary also wanted to make a habit of the running up the glacier project but I gracefully declined.

Sid and Deneb and Co. will be departing next week. I'm really gonna miss Sid. Soon it will be Xmas.

Fri, 13 Dec 1996 23:32:41 -0500
For some strange reason, I'm thinking of when I was in Malindi, Kenya. I arrived on a dusty overcrowded matatu from Mombassa. I walked away from the bus stop and the market. It was about 2pm and the sun made my skin smell of burned wood and dust. I was looking for a hostel, and I spent about an hour walking back and forth until I found out the place had been closed for a year. I sat under an African size tree, like an oak but reaching high to the clouds. I was tired of looking I was tired of walking, I was tired of the heat, I was tired of the dirt my body carried.

There was a small chapel built by the Portuguese in the 1600's. It was white and empty. A hundred yards away the sand was lapped by a tired sea. The little church was devoid of either objects or feelings. The visitor's book had been signed by a friend of mine two days before. When we met again in Nairobi, I found out we had been in that small town during the same week but I never saw him there.

I was happy to see the Indian Ocean for the first time. I walked on the fingers of its gentle waves for a long while and then I stopped and looked to the horizon and I dreamt of past and future days at sea. I still didn't have a place to spend the night, and it was getting late.

I was walking back towards the market looking for this man's hostel I had heard about. He happened to drive by and offer me a ride and his hospitality. I told him it was funny cause I was looking for his house. What was his name?

The house was very cool. The thatch roof and the sea breeze made it so. My memory is filled with cool nights and mosquito nets, and long afternoons lying on a hammock, all of Africa behind me. My plans, my desires, my ambitions, my backpack, my longings, my affections, my passport, my ticket to India, and all my thoughts, and all my wants were neatly forgotten in a corner of a spacious room of open windows.

Fri, 20 Dec 1996 18:20 -0500
It's a gorgeous afternoon. The sun is very bright and the ice and the sea look bluer than ever. Yesterday we were visited by the "Hesperides", a Spanish research vessel. I went on board as a translator. I also welcomed the people that went over to Torgersen to photograph the penguin colonies. I had to tell each group to keep a distance of 5 meters from the penguins, to avoid spooking the elephant seals, which might run into a colony and destroy everything in their way and to stay away from the human impact control zone. Everybody behaved very nicely and very respectfully and it was nice to have them as visitors.

Coastal mountains with iceberg in foreground.

I was on top of a little hill on Torgie and I looked over our Arthur Harbor. The "Hesperides" at anchor seemed rather small against the majestic edges of the glacier. For a moment, the familiarity of the landscape I see every day disappeared . I looked at the sea and the land and the beauty of their embrace as if I had just arrived. The glacier walls dropped off to sea like a cliff at the end of the world.

Thu, 2 Jan 1997 02:15:05 -0500
Ralph was just showing me how to develop color slides. I'm gonna try it on a couple of my films tomorrow. That'll keep me busy for a couple of weeks as I probably have about 30 rolls between color and b&w.

New Year's party was fun. It lasted only until 1:30, which actually turned out to be a good thing. Craigo built a bubble machine, which I thought it was so neat and so nice of him to spend his free time on something like that that we all can enjoy.

Polar Duke leaving Palmer Station.

Well, it actually needs a little work, since it kinda got the floor covered in detergent in one area, and some people started skidding barefoot on it until "Crazy Bill" came in with the mop. But the concept was good and it did make bubbles. Craig and Bill also built a mirror ball, that was pretty neat as well. The rest was the usual, lots of dancing, and noise and funk.

Fri, 3 Jan 1997 22:01:14 -0500
To dance, we drape the windows with blankets. Life without nights is strange. I'm not sure how or why it changes me. I miss nightfall. I miss the stars.

My grandfather Rafael died last week. It saddens me a bit. He was a good grandpa to me, although I heard he wasn't a very good person at all. He did some horrible things. He was also very ill. He was 94, I think. Grandfather was a diver and a sailor, like me.

He was a good helmsman. I think I'm good at the helm.

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