Grazing Antarctica over the Indian Ocean, QF63 SYD-JNB, fotoeins.com

The Antarctic flyby, QF63 SYD-JNB

On a plane again: it’s either a prayer or a curse.

I summon the sleep gods on this 14-hour flight, and going over this very large body of water seems like an eternity.

Over the last few years, I’ve become accustomed to 10-hour “shuttles” between Chile and the United States, and I’ve trained mind and body to divide 10-hour flights into three easy-to-digest chunks between take-off and landing: (1) dinner; (2) an attempt at sleep, movies, or reading; and the final third that is (3) breakfast.

But it’s always been the case that the extra flying hours beyond the 10 mark can be a big mental block.

Sometimes, the goal is the motivation. On this 14-hour flight, Cape Town is the destination.

Qantas flight 63 is a non-stop flight from Sydney, Australia to Johannesburg, South Africa, and it’s at the latter where I’ll transfer onto another plane to Cape Town.

This ‘marathon’ flight takes place mostly over the Indian Ocean, the third largest on the planet.

On a flat surface, the shortest route between two points is a line, but on a curved surface, the shortest route is a curved path (i.e., great circle). QF63’s flight path takes us over the South Indian Ocean, and the plane skirts past the edge of Antarctica, on the side opposite to South America.

About halfway into the flight, I’m standing in the rear galley of this jumbo jet plane, and I’m looking out the window. The optics through the window are weird, giving a weird warped view of the world outside. I’m leaving nose prints on the interior plexiglass screen.

Sure enough, there it is.

Peeking under cloud cover is a hint of land below.

Under the rippling deck lies the great southern continent of Antarctica.

That’s what the plane’s in-flight displays say, too.

Our plane’s path glances over the continent of Antarctica; the display helpfully supplies geographic information, locating Argentina, Brazil, and Chile as well.

How do I feel?

Nostalgic.

There’s loss, too. I’m not going to see Antarctica on this trip, and I have no plans to do so in the near future.

After 5 years in Chile, what I miss most are the people with whom I worked, my friends and colleagues. Perhaps this “near miss” is a reminder, that I should return to South America sometime soon in the future.

Approaching South Africa, I’ve just departed Australia, after ten weeks among friends in some of the most beautiful spots around. I feel loss and separation from friends and country.

As sure as I’m moving forward on this around-the-world journey, I’m confident I’m coming back someday soon.

On board Qantas flight QF63 SYD-JNB, I made the photos above on 10 October 2012 with a 4th-generation iPod Touch. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5q0.

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