A few days before departing for Antarctica, I asked my 5 and 9 year old boys for fun, if they wanted to build Lego penguins for me to take with me. Not really expecting much to come of it, about half an hour later my 5 year old came to the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. “Mama, look, here is my penguin.”
With the biggest smile on his face, he was holding something made from blue, white and black Lego right up to me. It really did look like a penguin! I was baffled how quickly and precisely he had been able to capture the idea and transform a few colored bricks into a recognizable penguin shape. Soon after, my 9 year old followed suit. He proudly presenting me with a little grey Lego penguin caring for their eggs.
Then, when asked if they wanted me to bring anything from my trip, they of course asked me to bring home a real-life penguin. They begged me more than once, but eventually we agreed that the bathtub wasn’t large enough to host a penguin who wanted to swim around.
Instead of bringing home a new pet, they got two things upon my return. After carefully disinfecting the Lego penguins to keep the delicate Antarctic environment safe, I was able to take pictures of them together with some real penguins. In Port Lockroy right next to Antartica’s post office on Goudier Island, some of the Gentoo penguin seemed curious and getting reasonably close while trying to check out what I was doing there. At Orne Bay (continental Antarctica), the Chinstraps sitting on the rocks at the top of the steep hill just didn’t care at all about us or any of their Lego friends.
On my trip, I also purchased an “Adopt-A-Penguin” package in the Falkland Islands for me and my boys. This program supports conservation efforts of King penguins and it felt like the closest to getting them an actual one. We will now get to name “our” own King penguin. When I called my boys during the voyage to let them know about it, they immediately agreed how to name the new family member. So, from now, somewhere in the Falkland Islands, there will be a King penguin waddling about called “Jo-Mama”.