Make-A-Wish is certainly one of the most amazing organizations in the world. When they granted me my wish to go to Antarctica (yes, that cold place you always hear about whenever global warming issues come up!) they proved just how incredible they really are.
So, I guess I'll start with the very beginning. Let's go back to my third-grade class. In that class, the teacher had a desk sitting in the back of the room, by the window, where all the talkative students were sent. Well, I was sent there nearly every day. This desk was labeled, "Antarctica," and had a map of it taped to the surface of the plastic modeled to look like wood. From there on out, my fascination with the mysterious, icy, continent began.
Connected to the Coldest Place on Earth
I get asked a lot why I wanted to go to Antarctica in the first place. For starters, my wonderment with it went deep. Antarctica is the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent on Earth. It is the one place that hasn't been "corrupted" by humans, and it's completely isolated. I think I craved that feeling of isolation. I wanted to experience nature at its peak. Plus, I had always loved the cold, snow and penguins.
When I had graduated from junior high, I was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. That made me eligible for Make-A-Wish, and many people began asking what I wanted to do with it. I thought hard. Really hard. My main concern was choosing something I'd probably never have the chance to ever do again. I jumped from one crazy idea to the next, and finally settled on one. "Yeah, I know. I'll go to Antarctica!" Looking back on it, I probably seemed crazy to the Make-A-Wish staff! Despite the almost insane wish, they made it happen. After months and months of coordination, Make-A-Wish, as always, had the power to make it come true.
The wish itself was an incredible experience, and it's so difficult for me to describe it with words. My journey started with several incredibly long plane rides. (At least for me, a Californian girl and my mother, who rarely leave their apartment in the city.) Eventually, we landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We were to stay there overnight until settling onto another airplane and finally boarding the ship.
After Buenos Aires, my mother and I flew to Ushuia, the southernmost city in the world. We were there for only a few hours, but in that time, a young girl laughed at me for using an umbrella in the rain, since they get so much of it. From there, we boarded the ship that would guide us to Antarctica, the M.S. Fram. While the boat was considered to be small, it was pretty large for us!
Journey to the Bottom of the World
I'm not sure if many of you have heard of the Drake Passage, but it's one of the wildest parts of the sea out there. After two days of sailing, we finally spotted land, as well as tons of penguins and whales! The excitement overwhelmed everyone; we peered through binoculars and telescopes to catch quick glimpses of the icy continent. Not to mention, the tons of icebergs floating around!
Now, I would also like to mention all the great people I met on the ship. For starters, by total coincidence, I met another Make-A-Wish kid and his family from Alaska – shout-out to you, Sam! I also met an incredible intern, as well as countless other crew members and friends onboard. These people shared the experience with me, and made it all the more interesting!
Read Part 2 of Alexandra's wish.