There is no edge, no door, no wall. It is open. It is the end of the world. The filmy horizon is the only link to other continents. You are free to leave.
The entrance, however, is anything but open. Just getting to the entrance requires a bit of stamina and a lot of patience. You need to know the rules.
Rule#1. This is NOT your home.
Antarctica is home to whales, seals, penguins, birds, ice, snow and rock. It is inhospitable. The weather, at its best, can kill a human. This rule is not open to debate.
Rule#2. Be prepared.
Crossing the Drake Passage is an E-ticket. Our crossing was rather uneventful but seasickness was rampant. It is exhilarating and frightful. It is a major adrenaline rush. Let it happen. Know it is happening. Soak up the exterior feelings. Those are the ones you will remember.
And it didn’t stop there. Things can get dicey at the Antarctic Circle.
The physical preparations start are all about the clothes. The right kind for the expected weather. Wool long-johns, neck wraps, waterproof pants, mid-layers, lots of terms but all necessary items.
Rule#3. Be aware
Take the time and the energy to notice how a penguin hops, walks and slides. Notice that, in summer, they sit on their tails with their heels down and their toes up. They are trying to cool off!
Stop and appreciate the ceremony of returning to the nest after feeding. The stealing of pebbles and the offering to the sitting parent. The methods used to ingratiate oneself to the long suffering sitting parent.
Notice the ice. Listen to it groan. Feel it tremble. Hear it break and roll to the dark waters.
It is no place to amble.
But take a hike. To the highest place you can. Stop, open your soul and taste your insignificance.
Then realize that in that moment, in that place, you are free.