Friday, 26 February 2016

Longest Flight South

A few days ago I stumbled upon a Facebook post talking about the Oceanwide Expedition Antartica Contest and an ornithologist's quest to be the winner of the one spot being given away. He is currently sitting in position number three and with the voting deadline looming in just a few days, every second and every click counts. 
The man and his binoculars
And I react to any talent coming from Serbia - yes, I am one of those going nuts every time Novak Djokovic wins a grand slam. I was also the new immigrant single mom dragging my kid to each game the Toronto Raptors played at home vs. Sacramento Kings so he could feel some national pride watching Divac and Stojakovic. I even smile each time I see a Tesla car on the street just because... So yeah, it didn't take me much to go to the page and submit my vote for Dragan Simic. 

But then I got reading about Dragan's passion and how he started as an ornithologist and the story felt oddly familiar. 

Big War Island
Well of course! My mother has been telling me about this boy since I was a teenager. He was the son of her colleague at work and only a few years older than me. When mom got home she would tell me about this boy's adventures and canoe trips to Ratno ostrvo - "Big War Island" - the wilderness zone located in Belgrade, right at the confluence of Sava and Danube river. The island is uninhabited and the only way to access it is by boat. I never knew anyone who would even attempt such a thing, let alone a teenager. Over the years stories of his adventures rolled in. The continents got conquered. Books got written. With the background in journalism and environmental sciences, the world of conservation, ornithology and nature blogging got a best friend.

Journey to India
What always fascinated me when listening about Dragan Simic is that he has never stopped loving, observing and understanding nature. He is one of those fully-dedicated and immersed people who discovered his passion, had a major set-back and never even thought to use it as an excuse. If anything he has focused even more intently on his quests and these fuelled his constant endeavours which brought him as far as India and South Africa. 

The Antartica Expedition will be by far the furthest and the wildest of all Dragan's adventures. There are three more days to cast a vote and boost his standing on the score-board. It is so alluringly close it is tantalizing. The trip is to set sails in Feb 2017 and he is already ready! 

Dragan's big dream is to observe 7 species of penguins and actually take us on this adventure with him through a book with the working title The Only Planet - "which will be about this "voyage of the Beagle", about Antarctica and its wildlife in light of climate changes, the travellers on board the Ortelius and us, mankind on board our only planet."

I feel thrilled and privileged to be a part of Dragan's wings-assembly team. Voting takes a second and it ends February 29th. Join me! 

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