Today at 9:00 am I was picked up at the Pavilions hotel by a shuttle bus and taken to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) offices here in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is a requirement for anyone traveling with the USAP to report here first, in order to attend orientation and also to pick up the cold weather gear issued by USAP.

At my arrival I met Hans and James who are also heading to the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, as well as other people that will be working with different research projects that are currently been carried out at the Pole. There were maybe a dozen people in all who, like me, also reported to the USAP.

Trying out my USAP red parka.
Trying out my USAP red parka.

We had already been assigned our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing which comes packed into two large orange bags. I tried it on right away and fortunately everything was the right fit. They knew what would be right for me since I had filled in a special form on clothing sizes two months before my departure. A few people had to exchange a couple of items, though, which can be easily done through the on-site warehouse.

Clothing Distribution Center at the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).
Clothing Distribution Center at the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).

We each got two orange bags full of our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing.
We each got two orange bags full of our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing.

Warehouse at the Clothing Distribution Center.
Warehouse at the Clothing Distribution Center.

As part of orientation we all sat down and watched four short videos for about half an hour, which emphasized travel logistics and safety precautions, as well as the stringent ecological regulations that are in effect in Antarctica. Briefings like these are required to all who travel to Antarctica, before ever setting foot on the continent. Afterwards, we got through other requirements such as medical and information technology clearances. Later on, around noon, we moved to the computer room from which Hans and I will be posting to the web.

We will be released later on in the day and get back to the hotel. And of course, we have been asked to report back here again tomorrow (Tuesday, January 6) at 6:30 am, to prepare for our flight to McMurdo station in the Antarctica coast. After a day or so there, we will catch yet another airplane which will take us to the South Pole.

At orientation we watched four DVDs.
At orientation we watched four DVSs.

Preparing to post this journal at the computer room.
Preparing to post this journal at the computer room.

Post scriptum:

Since this journal was posted so early in the day, around noon, I wanted to add a few notes. Hans and I left for lunch very late, around 2:00 pm, and took a number of pictures as we left the International Antarctic Center where the USAP offices are located. We got back after a quick meal and did not leave until about 4:00 pm, as we still had things to do.

At 5:30 pm we met with James—who was also staying at Pavilions—and all three went for a walk in downtown Christchurch, as the hotel is conveniently located just a few blocks from all the main attractions. We walked down Papanui Road, stopping for a few pictures next to the clock tower at the crossroad with Victoria street. We continued down to Avon River and leisurely walked all over downtown for at least a couple of hours.

We had a very enjoyable chat and dinner around sunset, at an open air restaurant, returning to the hotel around 10:00 pm.

Leaving the International Antarctic Center, where the USAP offices are located.
Leaving the International Antarctic Center, where the USAP offices are located.

Afternoon walk in downtown Christchurch.  The clock tower at Victoria street is on the background.
Afternoon walk in downtown Christchurch. The clock tower at Victoria street is on the background.

Hoy a las 9:00 am salí mediante autobús del hotel Pavillions en la ciudad de Christchurch, Nueva Zelandia, con destino a las oficinas del Programa Antártico de los Estados Unidos (USAP, por sus siglas en inglés), localizadas en esta misma ciudad. Este trámite es requerido para todo el que viaje a la Antártida bajo el auspicio del USAP. Allí me encontré con Hans y con James —cuyo propósito es también el de trabajar en IceCube— así como otras personas vinculadas a los muchos proyectos vigentes en el polo sur.

Ajustándome el tradicional abrigo tipo parka provisto por USAP.
Ajustándome el tradicional abrigo tipo parka provisto por USAP.

Lo primero que hicimos fue probarnos la ropa y abrigos que nos habían asignado, la cual nos fue entregada inmediatamente y venía empacada en dos grandes bultos de color naranja. Me probé todo y la talla resultó perfecta, aunque algunos tuvieron que cambiar y solicitar otras tallas.

Centro para distribución de ropa del Programa Antártico de los Estados Unidos (USAP).
Centro para distribución de ropa del Programa Antártico de los Estados Unidos (USAP).

We each got two orange bags full of our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing.
We each got two orange bags full of our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing.

Almacén del centro para distribución de ropa.
Almacén del centro para distribución de ropa.

Nos presentaron cuatro vídeos informativos y completamos ademas los requerimientos médicos y de informática. La orientación se centró fundamentalmente en las medidas de seguridad necesarias en el polo y en la logística de vuelo. Luego me dirigí a la sala de cómputos, donde me acompañó Hans, y en la cual permaneceremos para publicar información en la web.

Viendo las cuatro películas de orientación.
Viendo las cuatro películas de orientación.

Si todo sale bien, mañana (martes, 6 de enero) a las 6:30 am retornaremos a estas oficinas para tomar el vuelo que nos conducirá a la estación de McMurdo en la costa de la Antártida. Al día siguiente deberíamos tomar otro avión que finalmente nos transportará al polo sur.

En la sala de cómputos, listo para escribir este post.
En la sala de cómputos, listo para escribir este post.

Salida del Centro Antártico Internacional en Christchurch, donde ubican las oficinas del USAP.
Salida del Centro Antártico Internacional en Christchurch, donde ubican las oficinas del USAP.

Paseo vespertino en el casco urbano de Christchurch, Nueva Zelandia.  Se aprecia el histórico reloj de la calle Victoria.
Paseo vespertino en el casco urbano de Christchurch, Nueva Zelandia. Se aprecia el histórico reloj de la calle Victoria.

Date
Weather Summary
Mild and moderately dry. The best weather in Earth!
Temperature
18 °C (64 °F)
Wind Speed
Calm.
Wind Chill
n/a
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Comments

Lollie Garay

Armando, I have an 8th grade class that is very interested in the Ice Cube project- we followed progress last year!We look forward to reading your journals. Have a wonderful experience- soak in every minute, it will change your life :)
Lollie

Lucy Coleman

Armando- I'm excited to hear about what the South Pole is like- I hope you soak up every moment of it! I look forward to sharing your trip with my 8th graders!
Lucy

Armando Caussade

Thanks Michelle! Good to hear from you! Yes, I got safely to McMurdo and will be posting in the next few hours. And if were are lucky we should be able to catch a flight to the South Pole later today. Stay tuned!

Armando Caussade

Gracias! And yes, I am soaking in every minute and enjoying it so far. McMurdo is an amazing place, and I am already looking forward to my South Pole flight.
As you know I will be posting in both English and Spanish, so stay tuned. I will let you know everything about IceCube!

Armando Caussade

Good to hear from you again! I am already at McMurdo and enjoying every moment of it. And soon you will see pictures from the geographic South Pole. Let me know if your students have any questions that I might be able to answer. Thanks!

JOSE R COLOM BERRIOS (not verified)

Greetings from your land Puerto Rico. We are proud that a Boricua this conducting research on the end of the world. Thanks for your great contribution to science and hope to see you soon in your country.

Armando Caussade

Thank you José. I am glad to see you here and absolutely appreciate your comments. Once I get back I will share my experience with you all. See you soon!

Jorge Lopez (not verified)

Congratulations Armando. Well deserve opportunity for you, and I know you would do a great job on your assignment.

Armando Caussade

Thanks Jorge. I appreciate your support, and it is good to know that you are following the journals. Stay tuned for more!

Jorge Lopez (not verified)

Great to hear from you. I see you are still stuck in MCMurdo. Won't that delay your return to PR?

Armando Caussade

Hi! Good question. Not likely, but could happen. I should be back January 22-24. Travel in Antarctica can be unpredictable and I need to remain open to changes at any time.

Michelle Brown

Your adventure has begun! I'm excited to follow you and hope you get to McMurdo tomorrow!