Alex writes: Midwinter came and went, like a dream. You can’t holiday from the Antarctic winter – we are locked in here for 9 months, alone as a crew of just 13. You soon get used to your surroundings and everything becomes very monotonous.
We all wanted to break the ‘Great White Silence’ that is the winter around us and chose to go on a holiday of sorts. During midwinter week, we created various sets using decorations, music, props and costumes that the crew spent a great of time preparing.
We used any spare materials from around the base. We cannot go out to the shops or shop on internet, instead we have to make everything out of what we have. Along with the costumes, the crew constructed two different fountains, and the technical team even rigged the melt water tank outside with a pressurised air supply.
It was a huge success and for a week, all non-essential activities on the base were put on hold. It has been a hard few past months. Everyone on the base has been faced with their own problems – some at work and some back home. But together we have made it this far, together.
The emails piled up in our inboxes and for one week our minds left the base and our challenging jobs and surroundings. Even USA president Barack Obama sent us a message of encouragement.
We created a ‘Berber tent’ and ate Arabic food and sipped Mint tea. I was transported back to Morocco, where I had travelled several times in the past.
To really escape our surroundings, on Sunday, I played glaciologist Sebastien Aubin in the world’s coldest game of tennis – outside of the station. Our game was played at -70 degrees Celsius, 50 degrees lower than the current record! I hope we can get into the world records. Fortunately we still have all our fingers to play again!
Just for a week, we weren’t alone on the ice in -80 Celsius.
I will never forget experiencing the feeling of Christmas every day during the week. And although it never really ‘snows’ here, every day was certainly a white Christmas.