the Franz Josef glacier from below
At 3 I set off in smelly wet boots to climb the Franz Josef glacier. After tramping through the woods for a short while we came to a clearing of A LOT of rocks and up in front is the intimidating glacier. Maori legend tells is that the glacier formed from the tears shed by a Maori woman (forgot her name) who cried over the death of her lover (forgot his name as well). It was far dirtier than I imagined...a little like the after a snow in NYC. But still amazing in its own right. Sandwhiched between two mountains the top layer was covered in a light dusting of dirt, but as you got higher and could look down into the ice it was an amazing freezing blue. Walking up you have to stomp your feet into the ice for the picks on the bottom of the boots to hold.
probably about halfway up the glacier
My legs were so sore after, but it was well worth it. Coming down you have to sandwhich between to walls of ice just thick enough for you to fit through side ways...it's so surreal. I think the walk took about 3 hours total and the higher you got the colder it got. You really do walk up into the clouds. Down on the ground it was beautiful and sunny, at the bottom of the glacier it was drizzling, but up top just grey and cloudy.
Back at the hostel they celebrated "earth hour" by cutting the power off from 8:30-9:30 and had a FREE vegetarian BBQ by candle light. How romantic. Afterwards we played an "eco-quiz." Me and two other girls from London were on a team. I sure as hell know NOTHING about our impact on the world...the questions were so hard.
and the trek continues
..like statistics on the effects of landfills, CO2 emissions (I put the US down as having the highest), how much energy certain things use up... I have a lot to learn.
Speaking of learning... I realize how ignorant of foreign policies and governments I am. Sometimes at the end of conversations with people from all over the world I realize I was just talking to them about the US government (it usually starts with an apology) as if I was talking to another American and they could absolutely follow the conversation and interject with rational well-informed comments. And if the situation were reversed I would be absolutely stumped. Queen who? The girls I met from CA and I were talking to this guy from Holland about health care. Everyone from civilized countries finds it fascinating that we don't have comprehensive, universal healthcare... AND that school is so ridiculously expensive. I feel jealous a lot. Makes me feel even more than going to grad school internationally is the way to go... it would cost just as much to be an international student as to go to school at home...but it would sure make it easier to move from the US... It would be awesome to go to school in "OZ" and then live/work in London...dream come true! I'm working on it. I need to educate myself so much more... So many people know about the US and I have no idea about anyone else... I am a true American, how sad.