The uninhabited, isolated island of Aldabra in the Seychelles was nearly a U.S. military base. In 1968, with the U.S. looking for a foothold in the Indian Ocean, Aldabra was at the top of a short list due to its large lagoon that could be blasted to accommodate a naval base and ample space for long runways.
We are on a bus, which is carrying us to a port, where we will load up a ship. Nothing unusual about that. Nothing strange, except for our fat wool hats, our puffy penguin-y parkas, our knee-high insulated boots. Nothing weird but where we are: Punta Arenas at the southernmost tip of Chile. And where we are going: to the isolated, ice-walled bottom of the world.
The Antarctic Peninsula separates the warm maritime climate of the Bellingshausen Sea to the west and the cold, dry continental climate of the Weddell Sea to the east. Thus far, we have been traveling and working along the western edge, but this morning, we crossed the tip and passed into a different world.