"in the face of un­re­lent­ing nat­u­ral per­fec­tion, South ge­or­gia takes ev­ery­thing you think is real and true and mean­ing­ful in your life and de­stroys it."


back in the early 1900s, a ram­shackle col­lec­tion of rusted whal­ing para­pher­na­lia now lies scat­tered across the is­land. The port of Grytviken is es­pe­cially marked by the eerie re­mains of a pretty grue­some in­dus­try, with up­turned boats and chains thrown about like toys dis­carded from the playpen of a gi­ant baby.

There’s also a re­stored church and ceme­tery hold­ing the re­mains of whalers, Antarc­tic ex­plor­ers and other souls who ended up fin­ish­ing their jour­ney in one of the re­motest places in the world – in­clud­ing Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton, cus­to­dian of one of the great­est sto­ries of Antarc­tic sur­vival ever told. But fur­ther to the point that hu­man en­deav­ours are pretty much fu­tile in the face of such all-pow­er­ful, mind-bending, sav­age nat­u­ral beauty, na­ture is slowly re­claim­ing what hu­mans have left be­hind, with young fur seals sun­ning them­selves on old bits of sheet me­tal, wild grass get­ting into the cracks of wind­blown build­ings and gangs of ele­phant seals lurk­ing out­side the ceme­tery, howl­ing and fart­ing up a storm with­out a care in the world. Of all the souls buried in the ceme­tery, some were brave, some might have been funny, all were most cer­tainly flawed, but ul­ti­mately none of that mat­ters be­cause they are all now bound to­gether by the same fate – be­ing sur­rounded by flat­u­lent ele­phant seals for eter­nity.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “All good things are wild and free…” a beau­ti­ful, soul-stir­ring quote of­ten re­pro­duced in ty­po­graph­i­cal font on posters and mugs sold on Etsy. South Ge­or­gia most cer­tainly nails the tri­fecta of be­ing good, wild and free, but Thoreau also wrote, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Af­ter sail­ing to South Ge­or­gia, you have cer­tainly stood up to live.

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