A First Meeting with the "Ice People"

All my stress and fears about the new and ever-evolving airport security situation turn out to be unfounded; toothpaste and hair gel may no longer be brought onto airplanes, but my five ultra-high frequency wireless microphone systems slide right through the metal detector at JFK.

We're ecstatic to finally be on our way: my companions for the next four months... director Anne Aghion and cameraman Sylvestre Guidi at JFK

Los Angeles is the first port where we feel the Antarctic influence. The gate for the onward flight to Auckland is thick with burly, white men in facial hair giving one another bear hugs. Cutesy cartoon penguin baggage tags provided by the National Science Foundation hang from almost every carry-on bag. Some bags proudly display many different colored tags, badges of honor indicating the owner has made multiple trips to the ice. Luckily, even though I only have the bright red 2006 / 2007 bag tags, I am a bearded, burly white man. I conclude I will fit in well. But despite all the happy reunions unfolding around us we postpone any serious meeting and greeting with the ice people, using frequent flier miles earned on other documentary films to upgrade to business class. Only in Auckland, after a glorious night's sleep in fully reclining bed-seats and a fine sampling of Australian wines and cheeses do we apologize to our fellow travellers for having disappeared to the front of the plane, by way of rubbing it in.

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