Radio Spanish

May 18th, 2006

I’m sorry I’ve not written for a while, but I’ve been embroiled in the wonderful world of the “indent”, which is the process of taking stock of all the equipment and supplies I have and deciding what to try and order for next season. I should have it done by the end of the week, and then my colleagues in Cambridge will order all the gear and get it shipped down to us on the James Clark Ross, which should arrive in December.
Since I last wrote it’s got considerably darker (it now gets light at about 11am and dark at about 4pm) and people are finding new things to fill their long dark evenings with. It’s traditional to exchange presents, secret-Santa-style, at midwinter, so a lot of people are spending time in the chippy shop, furtively trying to conceal what they’re making from everyone else! I’m going to start mine tomorrow…
There’s a whole bunch of us trying to learn to speak Spanish, too – lots of people want to go home via South America, so learning the language is a distinct advantage. We’re mostly using a BBC schools book-and-CD combination, although this is aimed at teenagers in school, really, and feels a bit remote from our present situation.
That is, of course, until we get a radio call last week from our nearest neighbours. San Martin is an Argentinian base about 50 miles away on the other side of Margerite Bay. They’re just in range of our VHF repeater, so they’re easy to talk to by radio. So far we’ve spoken to them three times (they’re very keen!) and learned that there are 21 of them, as there are of us. We’ve “met” three of them on the radio – Alexandro the doctor, Victor the communications officer and Abram the nurse. The whole team there consist of men serving with the Argentinian army – so they’re quite keen to speak to the ladies of Rothera!

My Spanish has gone from non-existant to basic, but we’re all a lot keener to learn now that we have some people to talk to. Mind you, I’ve had to compile (by extracting words from Argentinian and Chilean websites) a list of Antarctic Spanish words, as they tend not to feature in the traditional textbooks!

Next week (starting on Saturday) I’m on night watch duty, so I’ll have plenty of time to cram up then. I’ll let you know how it goes!