North Pole voyage – Part 3

They always say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well, we all know everything is relative in the world, including beauty. But, in my opinion, it could also represent absolution in some cases. I might promote dissent but, to me, anyone who is unable to find beauty in diversity, or when a tiny worm turns to a beautiful butterfly, or the slight movement of a falling leaf, or an exchange of a tender kiss between two lovers, etc. lacks the spirit of humanity. The same applies to what I witnessed at the North. Some things are rooted in our souls as human; like a new born child that would react to a music when played. Otherwise, these would have been obsolete rather than absolute!

…The meal had been served five times a day, starting from early morning to late night. They asked us earlier to set our watch two hours prior to the local Russian time, in order to prevent any interference with the crew, since the dining room was small and it could only host limited amount of guests. So, the passenger’s time was set to central European time. I was confused the first day, since the sun was never going to set and I kept losing track of time specially at night, when my subconscious anticipated darkness. However, we all got used to it the second day. It was wonderful to gaze at the bright horizon at three in the morning, knowing you had abandoned darkness for an entire two weeks.

Then, It occurred to me that darkness was part of reality as well as brightness. Without darkness, light could have no meaning and vice versa. Both have their own privileges. Beholding those poor Polar Bears that were looking desperately to digest in the vast area of melting frost caused by the intensive sunshine, was something to contemplate about. Not all the lights are good and not all the darks are bad. Both poles experience days and nights half the year, continuously. And the life we know, exists among the shades of grey, so to speak!

…Many programs had been scheduled to fill the day. After all, we had started a non-stop sail to the northern part of earth with no other human in sight.

As for the first day, we had to be informed of the most critical issue of our voyage: the survival instructions in case of any dire circumstances. Of course, hitting an iceberg was the last thing to worry about, because the ship was built to hit and crash the ice. But, anything could happen during an unlikely expedition in the middle of nowhere. At 4PM (our 4PM), everyone attended the meeting room to receive the required instructions in case of a risk of drowning. Ian told us that unlike people’s common belief, waves were not the main threat to the ships, but the fog was. And how hazardous it is to enter a foggy atmosphere.

We had been instructed carefully to react to the specific alerts at the given time and how we should manage in order to reach the life boats. The most dangerous alarm was the flat one. We had been told that we ought to leave everything behind when a continuous alarm was heard, for it’s the sign of a deadly situation. Afterwards, we had to perform a maneuver to practice everything personally. It was really exciting.

After all had been done, I went to the bar to chill out a little. I was thinking about what drinks to take, doing so loudly….
Me(while reading the menu): “Ok, I’m thinking of taking a bottle of wine to my room. Which one do you suggest C?”
C(the bartender): “Well, this one is from Chile, a good one.”
Me: “It’s a little too expensive for my first night. Do you have a Cabernet Sauvignion?”
C: ” Yes, I do. But, it’s very small, 33cl. Do you want one?”
Me(thinking loudly): “Well, not bad. After all, why should I take a whole bottle to my room?”
Suddenly, a lady interrupts: “Why not?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Anne: “Why not? You are young, alone, and the life is yours. What are you gonna do till morning? Get a bottle, have fun, and find someone. There are many beautiful girls around that I’m sure will die to be with a man like you!”.
I was flattered.
Me: “Oh, OK! Since you say so, I’m gonna buy a whole bottle.”
Anne(winking): “Good boy.”

And, that’s how I made friends with one of the sweetest and boundless souls I’ve ever met. Anne was 80 years old, the eldest of the passengers on the ship. She was a true adventurer and had visited many places on earth including South Pole. She had lost her husband 15 years ago and started to explore the world ever since. She had a boyfriend waiting for her back in the US. She was as charming as a young flower, sometimes you’d forget about her age. Every time that something came up, she was in the front row. A fearless strong old woman that turned out to be my closest friend from that moment on. A bottle of wine led me to chat with this charming lady for the next two hours. Then I went to my room, opened the bottle, poured some in the glass, sat beside the window and again gazed at that infinite blue sea which was the resting place of the midnight sun’s reflection. And it didn’t mean that I could let go of those glances that I had witnessed at noon. Maybe Anne was right. After all, I couldn’t just sit there and sustain the pressure of those enchanting eyes for two weeks. I had to do something. And, ignoring her was not on my agenda.

To be continued….

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