"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.