04 November 2010

Girlfriend's Guide to Antarctica: Interviews with Marika Mashburn 2

When we began the Books for Walls Project we set a few goals including making our way to Antarctica. We thought it a rather lofty goal, but it simply proved it is all about who you know -and it seems we knew the right people. 

Here is the story of how --and more importantly who got-- BFWP to Antarctica.

The Mom sent BFWP to her brother Chris in Germany,
Chris sent BWFP to one of their good childhood friend in New York City,
friend sent BFWP to an uncle,
uncle sent BFWP to his girlfriend
girlfriend sent BWFP to a co-worker,
co-worker sent BFWP to her daughter named Lael,
Lael sent BFWP to Marika in Antarctica!

The BFWP's virtual journey to Antarctica did more than just meet our first goal, it corroborates Stanley Milgram's theory, often called Six Degrees of Separation, "that everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.The fact is of all the people on Antarctica (only 4,400 in summer to 1,100 in winter) we managed to meet Marika. And Marika not only answered all of our often silly questions and she made learning about Antarctica fun.

And now to get on with our Interview! Here are a few more of the questions Marika answered for us about life at McMurdo Station on Antarctica:

Question #4: What did you want to be when you were young? Do you think that your little self could have imagined that you would go to Antarctica?  "I always wanted to travel when I was little, but I never imagined an average person could get here.  I figured you had to be a scientist or extremely wealthy to even set foot (on Antarctica).  I've only ever wanted to be an actor and I never would have thought I'd find myself here.  But (when) I saw Werner Herzog's documentary "Encounters at the End of the World" I found out it wasn't that difficult to get here and I became very interested in coming."

(Encounters at the End of the Earth is currently available to watch instantly on Netflix if you are tempted to watch it right now! The Four of Us recommend it highly --especially for all the great information about McMurdo and the people on Antarctica!)

Question #5: After spending so much time and getting to know the folks there --does it take a special kind of person to be able to spend time on Antarctica? To work there?  "I think you need to be patient, positive and to be able to brush things off fairly easily.  Must have a sense of adventure and be willing to roll with the punches.  The ability to "say yes" is essential." 

Question #6: Do you need special characteristics especially to get through all the darkness and then all the light? --any secrets? "Patience and a calendar. As long as the days are being checked off, you can see an end in sight."

Marika close, but not hugging!
Question #7 (from the Little Sister): Has anyone there ever really hugged a penguin?  "Penguin hugging, the answer is YES!  Back in the day, if you could get close enough to a penguin, you were welcome to grab them and hold onto them.  As with any animal, some of them would squirm or maybe peck at you and run off, but many of them were fairly tame and used to people and they didn't seem to mind too much.  However, at some point (I think within the last 10 or 15 years) it was decided that we should really be letting the wildlife alone and not getting them too used to people.  Which makes sense, but is a little disappointing.  I did have a friend from the summer who got to take a special trip to the penguin rookery which is about an hour away -- if you rent the Herzog film, Encounters at the End of the World, you can see the gentleman that runs it -- and they had to tag the baby penguins so they could keep track of them and their traveling and eating habits.  My friend, therefore, got to hug some little baby penguins while the scientists did their tagging thing --lucky guy!"
The Sisters would certainly love to hug these,
but promise to follow the rules ;)
We cannot thank Marika enough --we had no idea that her first email could lead to a far-away friendship. The world will never seem big again! Thank you Marike!

1 comment:

  1. Wow --you guys are learning so much! Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to more.