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Of all the places we have visited, this one is perhaps the most special for us .
My wife calls it the "Magical Place". It is unlike anywhere else on Earth and thus it is impossible to compare it to any place you have ever been before.
When we first started to plan this trip, no one we spoke to could understand why we wanted to go there. "After all, it is cold, uninteresting landscape, monochrome white color. Nothing interesting lives there and there is nothing interesting to see or do there. Right?"
If nothing else, the serenity of this vast continent is nearly overwhelming. Think of it- no fast food restaurants anywhere. No shopping malls- because, by International agreement, no commercialization of any kind is permitted. Less pollution than you will find anywhere else in the world, which permits you to look up into the sky and see more stars than you can possibly comprehend!
With the exception of a couple of scientific encampments and a very few buildings, there is nothing man-made on the entire continent. This allows you to enjoy the noise of hundreds of thousands of penguins as you come upon their colonies. To see Nature unspoiled by the ignorant, clumsy hand of Man.
But forget that for a minute. Focus instead on where we were. Can you get any further from the safety of your little world back home? Can you think of anywhere in the world you could travel that would be more demanding of your courage and ingenuity?
So many lessons taught and so many lessons learned on this trip. Nancy realized the value of her surviving strokes was to provide inspiration to others to help them through misfortune and adversity.
And she and I discovered the near limitless depth of human kindness:
As the expedition was ending, we approached the final port of Ushuaia, Argentina. It was the last night aboard ship, and the crew threw a party for the passengers. All of us were gathered in the main salon. Over the course of the previous 2 weeks, it was as though we had become melded into one large family, and everyone was in a festive mood, laughing and sharing highlighted memories of the trip.
At some point in the evening’s festivities, I asked the captain if I could address the people in the room. He approved this and at an appropriate moment, I got up to speak.
I told everyone there how very much Nancy and I appreciated their willingness to accept us, wheelchair and all; how very thankful we were that they were so helpful, going out of their way to make things easier for us. How much it meant to us to have received the many thanks from them for providing demonstrations of courage, hope, and inspiration.
And we returned the compliment by telling them Nancy and I both realized that without their assistance, acceptance, encouragement and support, we would never have been able to complete what has come to be one of the most significant experiences of our lives.
When I finished my little speech, nearly everyone in the room was in tears...
Join the Artic Swim Club. You get a certificate, and the pictures make for great story telling when you get back home.