Silence

Camping on Leigh Island

It’s 4 am and my alarm clock breaks the silence. Quickly I try to silence it, not because I want to snooze a little, but because any human-made sound is very out of place here. I’m at Leigh Island in Paradise Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. I’ve spent the night with one of my colleagues and 30 guests on this small island in sleeping and bivibags laid down in the snow. Around us only glaciers and mountains and the only things that broke the silence every now and then was a glacier calving or a bird flying by.

Complete silence is something we’re not used to anymore in our western society. There are always sounds, cars passing by, people talking, engines humming, children playing or cell phones beeping. Down here in Antarctica all those things are not present and it’s good to really witness this sometimes. On Spitsbergen I often ask people to sit down and be quiet for five or ten minutes, here we can do it a full night (although it was quite short, with a pick up at 5 am). Coming back to the ship, I didn’t hear anybody complain about the cold or the snow we had, but most people were full with silence…

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