Well, he made it. After enduring the 30-hour, 6,680-mile, three-flight trip from Lawrence, Kan., to Ushuaia, Argentina, Eagle Scout Alex Houston already has plenty of stories to tell.
I introduced you to Alex last week. He’s the Eagle Scout selected to join an expedition called 2041 that will explore the Antarctic Peninsula to research its ecology, wildlife and the importance of renewable energy in shaping the future of Antarctica. When they return, Alex and the expedition founder will share their findings with the BSA at the 2014 Sustainability Summit.
Alex will travel by icebreaker to Antarctica next, but first he spends a few days in Ushuaia, considered the southernmost city in the world.
I’m sure you, like me, wish you could join Alex on this adventure of a lifetime. Instead, we’ll settle for the next-best thing: stories from Alex himself.
As his Internet connection and schedule allow, Alex will send me updates from his trip. This may get more difficult once he arrives at Earth’s most-remote continent, but for now let’s enjoy his first dispatch, which recaps Days 1 and 2 in which he saw new sights, tried new food and made new friends:
International Antarctic Expedition, Days 1 and 2
By Alex Houston
After nearly 30 hours of being crammed into a plane or in an airport, when I looked out my window and saw our destination, I was not only relieved but stunned. Our plane dipped beneath the clouds as we descended upon Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The view was spectacular; the tip of Tierra del Fuego is littered with islands, ocean, and mountains rising up to greet us. Words just don’t do it justice.
As I left the airport I was greeted by Sir Robert Swan himself, and the several 2041 members and we headed to the hotel. The hotel is remarkable, it sits on top on one of the mountains that overlooks the city. As the van wound up the winding dirt road, the hotel loomed above us like a formidable mountain hideout, fit for a villain in a movie. Upon arrival at 3 p.m. Ushuaia time, I checked in got briefed and had just enough time to run up to my room, meet my roommate Diego from Mexico City and unpack, before departing at 4 for a hike on the trails that surround the hotel.
The diversity on the expedition is fantastic, there are people from 27 countries and 6 continents (excluding Antarctica). They vary in age, race, religion and about every demographic imaginable. That evening we took the shuttle to town, and I enjoyed a staple of Argentina: steak! At this meal I ate with people from Hong Kong, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, and Great Britain. The laid-back and slow manner of Argentinian meals allowed us to enjoy a several hourlong meal and fully get to know each other.
Today we truly began the program for the trip, we were split into groups that we will be operating with, while in Antarctica. My group once again really shows off the great diversity here on the International Antarctic Expedition. We’ve got representatives from India, Great Britain, Oman, Qatar, Italy, Malaysia — and a New Yorker! We learned about proper dress and procedure in Antarctica, and we prepared for our hike up a glacier tomorrow! Tonight we enjoyed fresh crab caught just off the coast of Ushuaia and I couldn’t be more excited for the days to come!
Photo from Expedition 2041 site