In the documentary Encounters At The End Of The World, filmmaker Werner Hertzog travels to the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica. The people living and working there tell us their story. One of the residents is Stefan Pashov.
I reached out to Stefan and asked if he could answer a few questions and I’m delighted to say he agreed. Stefan has an amazing way with words and I hope you enjoy reading his answers to my questions as much as I did.
Stefan was born in Sofia, Bulgaria has travelled to 85 countries and visited all 7 continents.
How long were you living in Antarctica and what other jobs have you done in the past?
I have spend the total of 70 months in Antarctica, of 14 seasons. As for jobs, I have been university teacher, translator, Alaska fisherman, but mostly I have been a free-roaming long them world traveler.
What brought you there?
It was a natural progression from working seasonally fishing in the Bering Sea, Alaska. I love part-time jobs and hard places, and Antarctica was the most obvious choice.
Can you give us a sense of what it was like?
In the beginning of the season in McMurdo Station is dark and the temperature is around minus 50 often with wind which makes it even colder. This season we must have broken all records for the number of storms, almost every day. But now is only minus 20 ish and sunny…
Were you affected by near 24 hours of daylight?
I absolutely love the perpetual sunshine! It feels me with energy and happiness, and I can go with much less sleep and more time for hiking and reading.
What was the highlight of your experience?
There have been too many wonderful and diverse experiences over the years…But, just to choose one at random – I was amazingly fortunate to witness the simultaneous occurring of full lunar eclipse and Aurora Astralis, perceived from a mountain top in complete silence with just a few friends!
For anyone who is struggling to take that first step to travel, what advice would you give them?
Like the Chinese saying goes: ” “Even a journey of thousand miles starts with a single step”, but it is important to remember that the opposite is also the case: “Even a single step starts with a long inner journey” My advice is simple – do not get lost in preparations, just GO! Do not set any time limit, let the journey unfold naturally. Travel light, cheap, slow, close to the land, use local transport, eat street food, experience all.
What is your favourite travel destination?
India, India, India! And the whole of South East Asia.
In the documentary you say you ‘..…….explored many different lands of the mind and many worlds of ideas’ What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while travelling to the countries you visited?
If you do not have any chosen destination – every wind is behind your sail. True travel is a journey without a goal and destination. And ultimately every journey always leads to the center. Enjoy the path as much as the destination.
What is your favourite Favourite film?
“Novecento”, (“Twentieth Century”) is a 1976 Italian epic film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, starring Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda, Donald Sutherland, Alida Valli, and Burt Lancaster. Set in Bertolucci’s ancestral region of Emilia, the film chronicles the lives of two men during the political turmoils that took place in Italy in the first half of the 20th century. And Siberiade (Russian: Сибириада, translit. Sibiriada) is a 1979 epic Soviet film in four parts, spanning much of the 20th century. The leading roles were played by the celebrated Soviet actors Nikita Mikhalkov and Lyudmila Gurchenko. The director was Andrei Konchalovsky, working for the Mosfilm studio.
A lot of your Facebook updates are interesting quotes from philosophers, physicists and activists. I especially like ‘On today’s day was born….’ How did this idea come about?
As a way of remembering and honoring people, that otherwise would be too contrived to bring up. The usual approach to history is to stick with one place, say Athens, or Rome, or Egypt and let time flow trough it. I am suggesting different idea – instead of fixing the place, let us fix the time and let all of the cultural and historical “space” flow trough this fixed moment of time.
In one Facebook update you said that you are reading ‘The Cave and The Light’ by Arthur Herman. Can you point us in the directions of some of your favourite books.
They are too many, but if I have to pick just one of my ultimate favorite authors I will choose Brian Swimme with his series: “Canticle to the Cosmos” and “The Powers of the Universe”
Beaches or mountains?
Definitely both! That is why I choose to live a couple hundred yards from the beach and a very short drive to the high, glaciated mountains…