Today at 4:00 am I safely arrived home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I made the decision to immediately go back to full time work, and at 9:00 am I arrived at the Seminary where I teach astronomy and mathematics, and by 3:30 pm I reached Pedro Rivera Molina middle school where I found my full cohort of 90 EcoSTEAM students anxiously waiting for me. Unbeknownst to me, the school had been planning a party for my arrival, complete with pizza, soda end even a cake! The kids had assembled at the school's stadium and I spoke to them for about 30 minutes on my South Pole expedition.
Back at the school, signing an autograph. Credit: Gretchen B. Guzmán.
Teachers and students had assembled at the school's stadium. Credit: Miguel Piñero.
After a short introduction I answered questions on every possible topic concerning polar exploration, including coping with temperature, elevation and dryness. I also answered a number of questions on neutrinos, cosmic rays and the IceCube experiment. Afterwards, I devoured my three meat-lovers pizza slices—had not yet had lunch!—and then went on to chat with a group of fellow teachers.
Chatting with fellow teachers. Left to right: Me, Miguel, Gretchen and Lymari. Credit: Carlos Muñoz
I even got a cake! Credit: Carlos Muñoz
Now that I was home again and could look back at my actual expedition schedule, I sat down and did a comparison with the preliminary schedule that I had posted on January 2, 2015. As my mentor Jim Madsen had anticipated, the realities of Antarctic travel demand the utmost flexibility and willingness to accept a change of plans. That was my mindset from the beginning, and I saw every change in my schedule as an opportunity and not a hindrance.
My final schedule turned out as follows:
Friday, January 2, 2015: Departure from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Monday, January 5, 2015: Arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015: Arrival at McMurdo station in the coast of Antarctica.
Sunday, January 11, 2015: Arrival at Amundsen-Scott station on the South Pole.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015: Departure from Amundsen-Scott station on the South Pole.
Saturday, January 24, 2015: Departure from McMurdo station on the coast of Antarctica.
Sunday, January 25, 2015: Departure from Christchurch, New Zealand.
Monday, January 26, 2015: Arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So, the total duration of my expedition was 24 days, of which 18 days correspond to my actual stay in Antarctica.
I plan to write an additional, final post with closing remarks and acknowledgments. Stay tuned!