© Stephen Eastaugh, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
I don't get seasick not even in the Drake Passage when we chugged through 13 metre high waves caused by the southern oceans cyclonic winds. I do get an illness quite the opposite, which could be called still sickness. This pleasant dis-ease is basically itchy feet multiplied by many kilometres. One day I will try to estimate the amount of kilometres I have travelled, as I am sure it will be a surprising figure. I move all the time it seems even on this little ship I have moved in and out of 4 cabins. Admittedly moving a few grubby clothes, art equipment and some personal belongings is not the same as moving a full household. I have read that moving is extremely stressful but if this is so I should be some kind of blithering neurotic, wobbling mess of tension. Last time I looked in the mirror I was a tad shabby and had a little bit of cabin fever but I didn't look that bad.
It has so far been a very wobbly voyage on the M.V. Lyubov Orlova but this was expected. My faith in the Russian crew is large and this 100 metre long ice class ship is a tough little vessel. Made in 1976 in Yugoslavia with a crew of 56 and maximum speed of 14 knots the Orlova is named after a famous Russian actress. During the windows of OK weather we have managed to visit the South Shetland Islands landing at Telefon and Whalers Bay on the bleak and actively volcanic Deception Is. Even managed to wallow in Antarctic waters that were warmed by the thermal activity. Then on to Fort Lockroy on Weincke Is, Petermann Island, Neko Harbour, Paulet Island, Cuverville Island, Half Moon Island and some hours were spent cruising about the stunning Paradise Bay.
Historic sites, grand scenery, icebergs, penguins, seals, whales, sea birds, scientists and tourists are all to be seen in this part of Antarctica. There is even a Post office surrounded by thousands of penguins.
I have turned cabin 607 into an active studio with about 60 little oil stick paintings scattered about the cabin attempting to dry. Works on paper and a series of new Travailogue works are all cluttering up this space that is my floating home for a few weeks.
It is a very exotic part of the world to be in. I am situated right now at latitude 64 deg. South and longitude 62 west or somewhere in the Bransfield Strait.
I have been accused of being addicted to the exotic which is true as the exotic is usually described as …strikingly unusual, often colourful and suggesting distant Countries and unfamiliar cultures. It also suggests the unknown. Not the normal or nearby. Which all sounds fine by me and certainly not a bad thing to be addicted to.
This fondness for the exotic or the Other has another side. In foreign lands I am rendered exotic or maybe just culturally barbaric by the locals that is if there are any locals to make comment on my behaviour. This is usually a pleasant feeling, as I become special or really just a strange stranger. This predicament is refreshing as it comes with a slice of freedom. By placing yourself outside your usual habitat, customs, laws and tastes you are able to reinvent yourself somewhat. This is why people holiday and this is why many expatriates cannot return home easily.
The final voyage is at an end as the lights of Ushuaia can now be seen. Last memories of the voyage were a soaking wet and rather rough zodiac landing at the Russian Bellingshausen station on King George Island where I swallowed a wave-load of freezing salt water about the same time that I was thinking about visiting the tropical bits of Australia…