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Pole to Pole

Day 141: To the South Pole

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleIt's as we walk towards the dome, past Portakabins and stacks of wood, insulation equipment, all the flotsam and jetsam of a builder's yard, that I become aware of how much effort is required just to keep going. It's as if I'm in a dream. However hard I try, the dome doesn't seem to get any nearer.

After what seems like a lifetime we descend between walls carved from the ice to a wide underground entrance, above which a sign informs us that 'The United States of America welcomes you to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station'.

No pretence of neutrality here. After travelling 23,000 miles we have found the end of the earth, and it is America.

Pulling open a door as heavy as that on a butcher's deep-freeze we enter a warm, brightly lit canteen. Music plays. 'If You Leave Me Now', by Chicago. Fresh orange juice and coffee on tap. T-shirts read 'Ski South Pole - 2 miles of base, 12 inches of powder'. A man in Bermuda shorts is piling a tray with chilli dogs, turkey soup, potato chips and lemon poppyseed cake. One of the chefs even recognizes me:

'Hey . . . wow! Michael Palin . . . !' He rubs lemon poppyseed cake off on his overalls and proffers a hand.

'Welcome to the Pole!'

The South Pole is on New Zealand Time. Everyone is eating, not because it's two o'clock in the morning and they can't sleep, but because we have leapt forward sixteen hours, a time-shift of record breaking proportions. These people are coming in for their evening meal.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 141
  • Country/sea: Antarctica
  • Place: Amundsen-Scott S. Pole Station
  • Book page no: 318

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