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Decep­ti­on Island

It is part of a polar traveller’s life to return to the same place again and again. Of cour­se the­re are tho­se pla­ces whe­re you are get­ting blown by the wind only once in a life­time. Others are rou­ti­ne. Most are some­thing inbet­ween. And occa­sio­nal­ly, as I have to admit, the­re are tho­se pla­ces I could well do without, at least some­ti­mes.

Decep­ti­on Island is amongst the let­ter. The island has got its name for good – or rather: bad – rea­son. Who cares that nobo­dy real­ly knows any­mo­re what that rea­son was. Any­way, too often you feel decei­ved for the pre­cious time after a visit the­re. But ever­y­bo­dy knows this famous island and almost ever­y­bo­dy wants to go the­re.

Not so today. Alrea­dy the approach was an ant­arc­tic delight, a light bree­ze under a bright sun, the rim of the cal­de­ra of Decep­ti­on Island ahead of us in full width. The ent­ran­ce, known as Neptune’s Bel­lows, is such a thing in its­elf. It is qui­te nar­row, and to make bad things worse, mother natu­re pla­ced a rock in the midd­le of it, pro­bab­ly in a moment of bad tem­per. This rock has cost some ships more than just a scratch of paint.

The Nor­we­gi­an wha­lers used to be tough peop­le. Put a wha­ling sta­ti­on the­re, on a plain of black vol­ca­nic sand. Tho­se who think that it is gene­ral­ly calm insi­de this see­min­gly well-shel­te­red natu­ral har­bour will soon be disap­poin­ted (decep­ted, isn’t it?), and I don’t want to know what it was like to spend the day up to the waist in whaleb­lood and –oil, in almost con­stant wind, cold and a natu­ral sand blower.

a9_Deception-Island_13Jan15_363

Litt­le is left of all this, or of a sta­ti­on that was built here later by the Bri­tish. Vol­ca­nic erup­ti­ons that went tog­e­ther with ash­falls and meltwa­ter tor­rents tur­ned it all into splin­ters.

On a nor­mal day, which means in win­dy, cold, grey wea­ther, most will be done rather quick­ly here and hap­pi­ly be back on board soo­ner rather than later. But life is good here on a rare sun­ny day. Of cour­se, I am sup­po­sed to enjoy it in any kind of wea­ther and always to cap­tu­re some good pics, but … not­hing, it is sim­ply less fun in bad wea­ther. Peri­od. But today, the­re are so many lar­ger objects and small details that catch the eye and the photographer’s atten­ti­on. The com­bi­na­ti­on of decaying buil­dings, rus­ting ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry indus­tri­al remains and ant­arc­tic natu­re in a vol­ca­nic set­ting is inde­ed uni­que. Star­ting with colour­ful vol­ca­nic rocks lying on black ashes to lonely patches of mos­ses and the old air­pla­ne han­gar (it took ages and almost bury­ing the came­ra in the ashes to get that pho­to right) to the few remaing gra­ves (dito).

Con­si­de­ring that the ear­lier descri­bed visit to Half­moon Island was actual­ly also today, you will agree that it was a gre­at day.

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last modification: 2015-01-14 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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