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Travel Writer Pam Mandel Wins Solas Award

Congratulations to travel writer and blogger Pam Mandel, for her Solas Award, which she won based on an essay “Seven,” written after her trip to Antarctica, sponsored by TravelWild Expeditions.  The essay won under the category for “Cruise story: The best account of a trip on the water in any vessel, from the smallest kayak to the largest ship.” 

The Solas Awards, now in their seventh year, are sponsored by Traveler’s Tales, a prestigious San Francisco travel book publisher. Explains the publisher,

With the Solas Awards we honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. We’re looking for the best stories about travel and the world funny, illuminating, adventurous, uplifting, scary, inspiring, poignant stories that reflect the unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. We hope these awards will be a catalyst for those who love to leave home and tell others about it.

In Pam’s essay, she reflects on thoughts inspired by a visit to Petermann Island, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot spent a harrowing winter. 

Lately, I consider my travels in historical context. It’s not that I am a great explorer, it’s that I like to put the significance of my travels in the context of those brave humans, those madmen — and in some cases women — who went off the map so they could find out what was there. I like to be taken down a notch or twelve when I think I’m doing something special and I like to keep in mind the absolute privilege I have in being able to — can you believe this — take a ship to Antarctica to see penguins and seals and the wild raw places where nature makes lunch out of all of us, should she be so inclined. Iced in with his crew, Charcot probably had hard tack and seal meat while on the other side of the island, I ate steamed rock cod with asparagus, in a delicate mustard sauce followed by a baked fruit tart and coffee with milk and sugar.

I live in modern times, for that I am grateful. Anyone who has the financial means can go to Antarctica, you need not be all that sturdy, even — many travelers to Antarctica are retirees, gripping the handrails as they wander about the halls of the ship, moving carefully up and down the gangplanks. Not all travelers to Antarctica are wealthy, either, — for example, an Australian couple I met told me how they’d saved for years in order to do this adventure, a lifetime ambition….

If, instead of being born to modern times when a bookish, slightly odd female can step foot on all seven continents without raising an eyebrow, I’d been born in, say, the age of exploration, my world would collapse upon me. To complete my travels, I’d require a past life as the child of missionaries or diplomats. Or a father involved in obscure botanical research for some institute, probably British, and later, back in London or Cambridge, there would be presentations in which I was not involved in any way. I am much luckier to be born curious and to a somewhat open globe, a time when the infrastructure exists in such a way that I can stand looking at Charcot’s badly chosen anchorage and a week or so later, sit on my couch in Seattle writing about it.

Can you guess what “Seven” refers to? Read the complete award-winning essay, as well as others Pam wrote about Antarctica – and many other destinations – on her blog Nerd’s Eye View.  TravelWild Expeditions sends a hearty congratulations to Pam, and we look forward to reading more of her great travel writing!

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