Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14th – the Pole Reached!

Today is the day. One hundred years ago, Amundsen and the men in his party arrived at the geographical South Pole. No one had ever been there and they found absolutely nothing. They took measurements and then circled the pole to make a two kilometer window around it, just in case their measurements weren't dead accurate.

At around the time that Amundsen would have been calling a halt to his sledges, I'm in a cab on Copacabana Beach in Rio, heading for the airport and the plane that will take me to Iguazu Falls, a wonder of a place. These are the falls Robert DeNiro free climbs in The Mission.

I have been delighted by the brand of beer – Antarctica – that I've been drinking in Rio, but cold beer is really stretching if I think anything I'm doing at the moment has to do with Amundsen.

Instead, I've been thinking a lot these past few days of the poet PK Page who lived for several years in Brazil as the wife of Arthur Irwin, the Canadian Ambassador to Brazil. As I walk Ipanema Beach, or wander through Lebron, I know that I'm in places she spent time many years ago. I have a drawing at home that she did of Rio from, I think, a similar vantage as my hotel and I will think about that drawing differently when I get home and have another look at it. PK became a visual artist because of her time in Brazil. Like me, she was lost without language and found Portuguese difficult to learn. She was also overwhelmed by the lush colours around her in Brazil and the power of the images of landscape and flora, and by the quality of light in Brazil. So she started to draw and paint instead.

I know that this adventure is enviable by any standard. My brother is pleased with things. We are (here comes the understatement) having a good time. And I'm looking forward to Iguazu and then Buenos Aires. But I also can't help thinking that this trip wasn't what I imagined twenty years ago when I first began to dream of going to Antarctica. I wanted to be standing at the Pole today and wanted to be doing it exactly one hundred years after Amundsen arrived. Instead, I've got the window down, taking a last look at the joggers and beach vendors of Rio. Can anything more topsy turvy be imagined?

1 comment:

  1. Shirley & Nap RuzeskyDecember 15, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    Hi Jay & Scott: Yesterday (Dec.14th) we also celebrated the 100th Anniversary by drinking a toast to you, and wishing a wonderful experience which we expect will be a great lifetime achievement - congratulations to both for making things happen, rather than watching things happen! Love, Mom & Dad