Our ambassador Lyudmila Fillipova and the amazing Antarctica!
Lyudmila Fillipova is one of the most red, modern, bulgarian writers in 10 published books, translated on some languages. Last year she went to visit Antarctica with a project to investigate it and to bring it back to the people in text and hundreads of colorful footage in her book "A travel to the End of the worlds". Today, the book is in every bookstore and everyone who wishes to learn and see more of the ice continent, can find it there. This year the writer took again the hardest and longest travel to the World in order to put a unique time capsule under the Bulgarian orthodox temple. She is made out of their initiative and all year collects hundreads of messages from the whole world. Among the are tens of thousand popular perosnas including the Bulgarian president.
Outside the end of the world
White. Dott. This is Antarctica, from the Cosmos. When it comes to the other people, she is just an exotic word. For some others - the world of the white bears. And for some others - another planet, on which, not only that the white bears do not live, but it is the place where a person devotes himself in the name of science and nature with the risk of his life. Another planet where only some withstand to the borders of their opportunities in the name of something beyond us.
The ice continent can be compared only with Mars with Europe - the satellite of Jupiter, with Enceladus, Moon in Saturn and peak Everest. But if the last mountaineers walk inspired by their own need and ambitions, the unique of Antarctica is that the people leave behind their Ego and the personal, but only if the nation in the name of one higher global aim. And precisely the unification still stores this last, virgin nature from the raids of tourists in hundreads of ships, striking every opportunity to scramble it in order to tag themselves that they have been there.
Today Antarctica is still a world of whales and storms on 17 species of penguins and seals on squats and blue - eyed cormorans and a unique sea species and rare, mossy vegetation. But she is and the Earth and ice and snow, where they come and some odd people, devoted to a scientific activity and nature protection. In all cases, to point out that Antarctica is the South pole and not the North, where actually the white bears live, the morgues and sledge dogs - a usual mistake.
The road to there is long and filled with a lot of hardships, especially bulgarian antarctics. They stack days without sleep, eating food on the go, flight after flight, stations, busses, transferring mountains for provisions on the bases, and that way to the most South point of Chili - Punta Arenas, thought of the Chili's end of the World. There, in Pathagony, one shops as for last, storms are taking over, hailstorms and fogs, and again we take on the road - this time outside the end of the World.
We climb on the military, spanish icebreaker Esperides, dedicated to a scientific activity on the bases on the Islands of Livingston, Deception and King George. We meeta again the team of last year. The people, which never forget - devoted to their mission and regularly serve to international sciences and the country, going through the antarctic waters for 6 months, isolated from the world among storms. The ships travelled 4 days on the wave as a mountain.It climbs and falls in 20 meters explosions of foam. Inside of it everything is tied up. Up to 80% of the people are on their beds with sea-sickness, the others are barely moving in the strong shaking ship. 4 days and a lot of spanish, bulgarian, shottish, polish, mongolian military and scientists survive on the so called "most scary waters in the world". For many - there are not a lot of beds and we need to sleep on the floor of the ship. We alternate.
After some days the ocean calms down. The ship starts to wind around the big icebergs, colored in the shades of white up to emerald blue and gold. We put almost cosmic costumes "Mustangs" and we get out to the frozen, ladder by ropes. Ten meters over the abyss of the ocean and the raging waves. You are alone there - you depend on your own self - control and on your two hands. In minus temperatures you should hold the wet rope without any gloves, so that you can be sure that it will not slip away. After, the boat Zodiak takes on the ice waves. Salty fingers scrub the face. The numb of the cold palms with wet gloves hold tight the rope of the boat so we do not fly away. On the shore we jump from the ice boat and with a chain of people we unload the mountains from provisions and luggage. And almost when we take on to the base the cold hits us. We realize we are on another place.
That is one specific cold from which you can't run away. An other type of white, which paintfully blinds. One unknown sky, which's blue appears so rarely that when you see it your soul shines. One other sun, which rarely re-surfaces over the clouds, but which does not set with months. It does not rise long after that. There are a lot more animals which still do not suspect what monster is the human being and watch him gently with curiousity or indifference, but not with fear. One other world, in which the difference to every other earthly place, here the people gather around their efforts to preserve the nature from the human, instead of the more often case - to crush and destroy, satisfying the unsable greed. Other storms, which are so ferocious that only for some hours can change the whole ladscape. They are so powerful that even a good equipement of bases sometimes does not resist them. The snow overwhelms them and sometimes storms carries it away. Here is the deepest snow in the world and the oldest ice, reaching sush an ancient atmosphere the human being has never felt. And with right Antarctica has conquered the first place for a coldest place in the world reaching temperatures up to 99 degrees. This is the highest result on the continent, the most dangerious, cruel, virgin, unusual and desolate. This is the most isolated place on the earth, especially on the bulgarian base. In a moment, not only that you are left without any communication with the world, but even if you forget, they never existed. The world goes further. The people close you also. And suddenly real human interactions and communication appears. As if we find new senses and we feel the world and peoplpe around us. As odd as it may be, Antarctica except everything else is a desert, although there are being stored around 80% up to 90% of the drinkable water on the planet. This is and the only continent where the animals are stricktly protected and absurd thoughts and desires of the people to hunt them, kill, shut, hug and eat and so on.. Here is the most thinner ozone layer and the biggest ozone whole, made out of the women's freezing after an irresistably growing industrial work. Here is the place where people and animals are one in an indistinguishable connections. Most of the whales and birds are monogamous couples and they are like this for life. Very touching are the cares that the buckwheats provide to their little ones. Many species which lay one egg for the period of 2 years. That is to give the little one a higher chance to survive. Others are ready to sacrifise against every predator that has approached their little ones. The hammocs are getting together to hunt in groups in order to hunt, so that they can live in a matriarchy and the clans and all other whale species create a complicated forms of societies, traditions, language and families. The people do not make any exceptions. Yes, the storms combine. And I don't think of another place in the world where people can permanently unite for reaching the unhuman. Here it is not as on the Earth. Especially on this place NASA tests it's cosmic equipement and does researches which can help the scientists in search of an extraterrestrial life. Antarctica is as if extraterrestrial, not only, because of the their peculiar atmospheric conditions, but, because of the specific people which live on that place. They do not wish to have a lot, but they dedicate their research on the nature. On this place there aren't any nations, sexes, money, politics. And here is the place where not on words, but on doing you realise the most effective and the only international contract - the Antarctic one, expiring on the year of 2060. Which reminds me that at that time the Time capsule should be open, the one we put next to the bulgarian temple. She holds hudreds of messages from people from all around the world, calling people to keep the planet for a better future. The year is not chosen by accident, because we hope that our voices will weight down on the voting for a new order, pledged in the antarctic contract. He will also continue to keep safe that unearthly place.
When there aren't any storms in Livingstone, and time allows us to get out and take on through sleeps and ice. Everyone by it's projects. We get eqipped good, ready for the hidden dangers. For a longer transitions we collect on gangs and we tie up roaps to one another, minimum 3 people tied up. The cracs, which can swallow us for seconds are evertywhere. On the sea side there are also cruel threats - tides, leopard seals which have attacked some people, slippery stones and snowy visors that can burry us under any moment. The light and radiation under the ozone whole is homicidal. The sun protection lotions do not work, that is why we cover every part of out body with costumes and masks, and the eyes with special glasses - the highest protection, known also as "glaciers" - being used in Antarctica and Everest. Knowing the paths and dangers is key for the survival, as the permanent connection to the base by the radiostation. You measure every meter before stepping.
Even when the life in the base boils. Almost daily it is snowing and we need to rinse snow by hand ( it is unique in the base - the others have machines.) The work concerning logistics is also boiling. All who are present are on duty for services to other bases. The Naptha and the electricity are limited, the water too. We use special regiments and the temperature in the house, outside the main part, is close to zero. We sleep in sleeping bags and thermal underwear - warmed by hour, two for a 24-hour day. But the relations between the people are happy and united. On the way we visited some antarctic bases. Except the bulgarian, I went through more bases and island King George - brazilian and chilean. through the scientific, spanish base Juan Carlos on island Livingstone, but also through the military Spanish on island Deseption. This island represents a crater and an active volcano, ready to errupt any moment. Covered with black lava and at places with hot springs. The snow and ice are alternating with black strips. The ice and fire are in irreconsilable fight. From the internal part of the island there are 2 bases - the Spanish and the Argentienan. And on it's external shores, during summer a green moss grows and thousand penguins come along to build their nests and to watch over their little ones. But what amazed me was the effort with which the spanish militaries are guarding the nature and keep strict, generally accepted nature conservation measures. Before descending from the board the shoes and clothes are desinfected and the people instructed that not only the flora and fauna is not allowed to be touched, but the animals as well and people should keep a minimum distance of 20 meters. When we start the march, organised by the militaries, they give us special bags in case we need to visit the bathroom. The walk to the penguinarium was 5 hours intensive walking through the crater and some steep hills. Tired, but filled with emotions, we leave the island back to the Esperides. I have been to hundreads of flights - with huge over the ocean aiplanes, two-seated ones, helicopters, but for the first time I find myself meters away from the military "Hercules". The feeling is strong. I feel like a Hollywood production. The adrenaline rises. The commandant orders to choose some men to load the luggage. The others to wait for a second order. The motorcycles thunder. We get on one by one and fall into darkness. Inside they give us stoppers for years and accomodate us. I fall into a line of spanish and brazilian militaries and scientists. The places represent a strong fabric folded on 90 degrees. The thunder of the motors is getting stronger. We all tie up with belts, tightly sat next to earchother. We put the stoppers for years and wait. We sit in 4 rows against one another. Worried and confused looks cross. There aren't any windows. We can's see anything and everyone counts on their own feelings wheather we are flying off, flying, speeding up.
The motorcycles start roaring. Even if scream, no one will hear. The most, like me, close eyes, but I cannot allow myself to miss this second. I absorb every detail. The bags are tied up with roaps. All travellers in this airplane are aware of the risks that we take, regardelss they are all here. This unites us. We have heard millions of stories for fallen "Herculeses" around Antarctica. We all are eqully vulnarable infront of the Mother Nature and this makes us Humans.We feel closer to eachother and we do not know our names.
With the speeding of the airplane, the temperatures sharply fall. I have chosen and put on my arctic clothes, but the temperatures in the "Herculese" fall under 0 degrees. My face and arms freeze. Most of the clothes I do not have next to me, so it is necessary not to think about the cold and relax. Around is a full darkness, smells on gas, howels, but I like it. In this moment nothing else matters, I feel in a full harmony. As if my soul is a vacuum. The feeling that I am on a spaceship is not letting me go. I go back on my place outside the city. After 5 hours of driving the bell rings which is a sign for us to land.
Bulgaria now has a worthy, scientific place on the ice continent and I hope that I will proove it with the achievements of the young, bulgarian scientists, which finally had a dginifying representation in the face of Denintsa Apostolova, the geologists head assistant Docho Dochev, assistant Stephan Velev and head assistant Gergana Georgieva. The leader is not anbody else, but the legendary professor Hristo Pimpirev - one of the main creators of the bulgarian base, also one of the main makers of complex logistics and opportunity to reach to a bulgarian base and back.
So... Antarctica is there, where the human is not a center of the world. Where you clash with the most extreme limits of the existance in the name of something more than us - nature, science and the furute of our planer, which need to be there tomorrow. If not for us, then because the Earth is unique among billions of others! And this will happen only if every day one of us realizes this and applys knowledge for knowing the everyday. That was the point ot the project Antarctica - a message to the people of tomorrow, because of which for a seqentual time, same as others, I took on the road for the first time, the hard road outside the End of the World.