Times to share


26 January 2008

Times to share

We have touched land two days ago. And within these two days, so much has happened. Very positive things. First we met with the tara team. The Earth team joining the Sea team.

I twas a simple moment but a very intense one. First we embraced warmly, the emotional warmth after the polar cold. Later that evening, a few hours after our arrival, there was singing and music. Not just any music. But a private concert of our wardroom music. Improvisation of gypsy music with the onboard musicians of that evening led by a real musician, Samuel Audrain, the chief mechanic and chief accordionist. Tv stations, radio stations, written press journalists were there and we were very happy to share this moment of happiness, of a dream accomplished, with them.

Alexander Petrov, the onboard Russian scientist was telling me that as a man of fifty-two years old, these moments do not happen often in a lifetime. I think he is right. I did not know him four months ago when we left from Longyearbyen to relieve the second crew. We are ice brothers today.
In the past two days, we have been talking to all little by little, we are exchanging, clarifying, recalling this Arctic life. Nine months for some of us, one year and a half for others.

For the moment, we are living a moment of sharing. Sharing with the inhabitants of Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen) who came to visit our schooner with a reverence, sharing with Karl and Berit, a couple of local restaurant owners who welcome us regularly, in their home. Last evening, they had organised an exceptional evening for us around a fire in a traditional dwelling. Next to the flames, there was a dish that we had not even dreamed of enjoying in our wildest polar dreams. braised fawn with a sauce served with potatoes. I am very sorry if I offend the vegetarians but the thirty persons in that wooden hut did not leave much in their plates.
In short, we are finding once again all the joys of earth, thanks to this call before going back to the ocean.
Tomorrow, after this period of libations, we begin to work onboard Tara. We must empty the front hold of several tons of scientific equipment. Tara must go back to sea much lighter, in full security, so as to finish off the expedition by coming back to the departure port, Lorient. Even if we celebrated a stage in the accomplishment of our mission, it will be only then that the Tara Arctic expedition will be over.

Vincent Hilaire