Sending snail mail seems to be old fashioned these days but there is nothing more exciting about the old fashioned form of communication than receiving a post card. Except maybe receiving a postcard from Antartica.
I had been looking forward to visiting the well-known the world’s most southerly post office, in the wilderness of Antarctica.
Power Lockroy was discovered in 1904 and named after Edouard Lockroy, a French politician and Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, who assisted Jean-Baptiste Charcot in obtaining government support for his French Antarctic Expedition. The harbour was used for whaling between 1911 and 1931. During World War II the British military Operation Tabarin established the Port Lockroy base (Station A) on tiny Goudier Island in the bay, which continued to operate as a British research station until 1962.
In 1996 the Port Lockroy base was renovated and is now a museum and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.
In 2013 a woman decided to re-open Antarctica’s Post Office after it had been abandoned over 50 years ago. The young researcher was named Anna Malaos and went by the title of “Polar Postmistress”. She worked from a hut on Detaille Island on the Antarctic Peninsula that has no telephone, Internet access, electricity, or even running water.
For five months of the year from November to March Port Lockroy now has staff for the shop, post office and museum operation, which is visited by about 18,000 cruise ship passengers each season. I was one of these lucky passengers and although the staff had headed home for the season by the time I arrived, I sent a postcard to my mum, sister, a lover and a friend and even one for future Kat.
Proceeds from the stamps fund the upkeep of the site and other historic sites and monuments in Antarctica.
My postcards will be in for a cold year as they overwinter in Antartica but come 2017 they will be on their way out into the world. Each postcard will get an Antarctic stamp, and will travel by sea to the Falkland Islands and eventually be put into the international mail system.
Hopefully the 3,000 gentoo penguins waiting outside the postoffice don’t manage to break in and read my mail…
Bon voyage little paper cards!