Meet Dan Rybarczyk, Your Antarctic Ambassador
The Antarctic Dry Valleys are among the most remote and lifeless areas on earth. It is therefore necessary to take significant precautions to ensure the health and safety of researchers in the field there. Essentially, this is a formal way of saying that if you want to go to Antarctica, you will first have to fill out a large stack of paperwork detailing the past and present condition of every aspect of your health, inside and out. This stage of preparation is tedious— multiple visits to both doctors and dentists are required. Some of the mandatory examinations include X-rays, blood tests, shots, and an EKG. The results of all of these tests must then be collected, shipped to a medical center in Texas, and processed. Any insufficiencies warrant a notification requesting more paperwork, signatures, and a repetition of the mailing and processing procedure. Although the thoroughness (as well as the expense) of all of this testing can seem rather excessive, it is actually an exciting reminder of Antarctica’s unearthly austerity. The entire continent has remained largely lifeless for millions of years, yet now we have the opportunity to study its harsh, unyielding climate firsthand. So, complain as I may about the red tape involved with the expedition, when I actually stop to think about why it’s necessary, I can’t help becoming both very excited and very thankful that I actually have an opportunity to experience the joys and pains of living in an otherworldly frozen desert at the bottom of the world.