I'm still down here.
Trip Start Sep 09, 2008
10Trip End Feb 16, 2009
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I forgot to write about our royal visit. Prince Albert II of Monaco (look him up; one of the last royal-by-birthright types to play a legitimate, active role in government, as well as an Olympic athlete) came to see us the other day. He's an adventurous prince who in 2006 voyaged to the North Pole, no doubt marvelous in its desolation, so he and a small entourage made an equally wild journey to Antarctica. I couldn't wait to see if he had a royal chewer, like the Hapsburgs.
That said, he seemed like a pretty nice guy. On some level we all expected a crown and sceptor, so when the crew arrived no one was quite sure which francophone on skis was the infamous Princess Stephanie's big brother. He gave a little speech at lunch over what he called "the best cheeseburger I've ever had in Antarctica," and many of us were surprised to realize that he was the unassuming man with glasses and a distinctly neutral American accent
I was very tempted, as I'm sure others were, to interrupt and quiz him rudely on matters of state in Monaco. But I said nothing, and he enjoyed his burger, sans royal chewer.
I was a little sick yesterday, and now a few other people are, too.
The dentist, who makes two visits per season to the South Pole, arrived yesterday, and she apparently boarded the plane fully aware that she had the flu. Living on a space station such as ours, this is very, very bad. The season is wrapping up and much of the community leaves in a week, so the impending epidemic will be an especially sour note to end on.
I had already heard through the South Pole sewing circle rumor mill that this particular dentist already had a reputation for being "psychotic." Imagine Little Shop of Horrors. No, it is not safe, and she is currently in quarantine, using half of our medical clinic to do nothing other than wait on the plane that will take her away from us.
Before her arrival yesterday, concerned citizens of McMurdo called ahead to warn us and advise precautions, understanding that when one person incubates a virus here, about 200 people get infected. I wish I could have seen the already eccentrically germophobic GA, hunching against the steering wheel to avoid any stray breaths from the Infected, driving the shuttle that carried the dentist from plane to station. She even had to wear a mask.
Maybe with enough respirators and a healthy phobia of all things that can transmit infuenza, we'll avert this crisis.