Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2003/04

   

   
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31 December 2003
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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

31/12



Let's be realistic, the day only really started at 7pm. Soon we'd be in 2004
and I was trying to find some reference or a sign that would tell me we were
about to cross another year. For this kind of occasion, the mood here is
very different to anywhere else. In Sydney, we have the fireworks to tell us
it's New Year. At Dome C, it's a big party (very big) but I got the feeling
that it could have been for another reason and yet be the same thing. When
you cross midnight, it's still bright day light, white and no big clock to
show you the new date. But what the heck, it was an amazing party.



Just like Christmas, we started in the free-time tent for a two hour
aperitif. The only difference was that this time there was a lot more smoked
salmon on toast (one of my favorite). Everyone was still calm and probably
saving themselves for later in the evening. Again we moved to the dinning
room at around nine and it was then that it hit me. Today was my turn to do
the dishes. At Dome C the tenants take turns to clean the dishes. There is a
list and everyday two people are in charge of cleaning after each meal. It's
not that bad really, first because the two poor souls keep each other
company during the ordeal but also because the kitchen is equipped with a
professional dish washer. Lucky me found out when he arrived two weeks ago
that his turn fell on the 31st, but had done well in forgetting until today.
My companion was Brad, an American scientist I already knew from last year.



The meal started well, I jumped on the seat closest to the kitchen. This
time Jean Louis had set the tables individually. It was a better arrangement
than Christmas because we had more space to move around the dinning room.
The menu was great. Unlike Christmas, which was more centered on seafood, we
had this time a lot of meat like duck and Venison, a real treat for a
carnivorous like me. Every second dish, the plates got replaced and I had to
disappear in the kitchen to clean them in record time as there is not enough
to go around a second time. It was not so terrible as many people (actually
the girls) helped bringing the dirty dishes in and the clean ones out. Jean
Louis also kindly waited for us to be back to our seats before serving the
next dish so we enjoyed the meal as much as anyone else. At the table the
mood was very much like at Christmas, although the Italians having learnt
from their past mistakes waited for the main course before toasting at the
drop of a hat. Before dessert, the two cooks were honored by a speech from
the station manager. It was written as a poem on a scroll made of wood and
paper. Being in Italian, there was one reader and a translator. The reader
would read the paragraphs one by one punctuated by the laughs of the
Italians sometime even bringing a few to the floor. The poor Carlo had a lot
of difficulties translating them to French but it made it even funnier
watching him struggle and jesting like a typical Italian, sometime even
miming entire sentences.



After dinner we walked back to the free tent. Tens of bottles of Champagne
were opened simultaneously on the stroke of midnight and everyone kissed to
celebrate the start of a new year. Someone turned up the volume of the CD
player and the majority started dancing to the tune of the Blues Brothers
Soundtrack. I would I preferred the music from Pulp fiction, but I couldn't
be picky since I didn't bring any CD with me. The party was very intense,
this time the Italians who had better managed the night lasted as long as
the French side. I vaguely remember going to bed at around 4:30 while a
handful of people still argued whether the elephant was stronger than the
rhinoceros.



Happy New year everyone!





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