Thank you!

During those past few months, I've trained to do the field work I was hired to do in Kerguelen in the Center of Biological Studies in Chizé; I've played wolleyball; I've met my colleagues and other guys who were in love with the southern lands; I've had a one-day climbing session; I've had drinks and spent nice evenings; I've took part in a week-long seminar at the French Polar Institute in Brest, which allowed me to meet the people about to go overwinter in the different districts and assisted to different presentations on logistics, research in those territories and other interesting themes; I've set foot on the Marion Dufresne, the boat bringing people to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands; I've been glad to realize that I wasn't seasick; I've counted marine birds with my colleagues every hour from sunrise to sunset; I've seen my first albatrosses and petrels; I've arrived in Crozet where we could unfortunately not get on land; I've seen there my first penguins and elephants seals, with my binoculars in the Baie du Marin; my heart missed a beat for the first time when the persons about to overwinter in Crozet left us; I've arrived in Kerguelen and discovered the base of Port-aux-Français – home sweet home!; I've met great people from every kind of occupation; I've done field trips in the Courbet Peninsula and in one of the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan; I've done long transits; my feet have hurt like hell because of blisters; I've have never felt so happy when arriving at destination;  I've lived in huts and cabins; I've not showered for days; I've appreciated being in a cabin when the wind blew hard outside and made the walls vibrate; I've been cold sometimes; I have enjoyed heaters to warm up; I've contemplated beautiful sunrises and sunsets and clouds like you can only see here; I've hold penguins, shags, albatrosses and petrels in my hands; I've learned a lot; I've loved my job; I've looked for reindeers often and as I thought I would never see them, one appeared on my last field trip, I've found it wonderful to sit on top of a cliff and to see the wandering albatrosses fly past so close that I could hear the noise of their wings; I've never been closer to nature; I've fitted birds with different devices to study their foraging ecology; I've seen Commerson dolphins; I've been on the barge, either to be dropped off in the field or as a « tourist » and I've baked chocolate cake for the captain; I've loved the smiles of the people welcoming us back on base after long periods spent in the field; I've spent Christmas and New Year in the field with my colleagues; I've spent nice evenings in Totoche, the bar; I've seen the Marion come back several times during the port operations and I've been glad to see it leave without having to jump on; the Marion has taken people I didn't want to leave; I've appreciated the cosiness of my room when I was back from the field – emails, phone, shower, heater...; I've wondered why humans always end up destroying everything; I've learned to fish trouts, to make carpacio and to skin rabbits; rain, snow and hail have sometimes prevented me from walking straight; I've jumped on elephant seals; I've stand next to the biggest flying bird there is; I've appreciated living in a world where men have modified the environment less than in other places I'd been; I've helped the guy studying cats; I've had « Benny Hill moments » running after fur seals to try to catch them; I've had spikes of a local plants all over my clothes and hated it; I've caught fur seal pups to measure and weigh them and it was a piece of work; I've laughed; I've cried; I've wanted the time to stop sometimes; I've discovered Armor and Port-Jeanne-d-Arc, two sites representing two unsuccessful attempts to harvest this wild territory, as if nature, here, refused to obbey and provide men with what they came for at least in the long run; I've seen aurora australis dance in the sky; I've taken a lot of photos; I've never found words that helpless to describe the intensity of this experience to my kins; I've received letters and packages from the other end of the world and it made me very happy; I've thought that realizing one's dream was fantastic; I've admired pure skies full of stars and looked for the Southern Cross; I've left behing amazing people and I've cried some more; the Marion Dufresne has brought me back; I've spent a few days on Amsterdam Island; I've been amazed to see flowers and butterflies after so long; I've seen a bunch of rainbows come and go in one day; I've discovered new landscapes; I've eaten lobsters; I've seen even more fur seals; I've spent evenings in the Cabanon where people were so welcoming; I've seen killer whales next swimming so close to the boat that I felt like they were saying goodbye; I've been lucky enough to see Saint-Paul Island; I've been lost when back to Reunion but even more to France; I've been moved by the « southern syndrome »; I haven't keep in touch with some people I was expecting to keep on communicating with and I've been surprised to keep in touch with other people I wasn't getting along with as much; I haven't understood what some people in the « real life » did when I got back and I've found absurd some aspects of it; I've gone back to Chizé and I've been glad to see some friends again; I’ve started to apply for PhDs;  I've analysed data and I've written my first scientific article; I've sworn to myself that I would go back. I could add to this list so many things but I think you got the point. So to all the people who have allowed me to live the dream and have this unique experience I owe to say thank you. A huge thank you to the ones who have accompanied me, to the ones who have taught me the skills I needed and so much more, to the ones who have made me dream, to the ones who have encouraged me, to the ones who have made me smile, to the ones who have hold my hand, to the ones who have made time fly, to the ones who have given me the will to come back, to the ones who have not forgotten me even though I was that far away, to the ones who have respected this unique ecosystem, to the ones who have been able to not say anything sometimes, to the ones who have trusted me; to the ones who have the « southern virus »... This would not have been possible without you.


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