Today we did an early morning landing at Hydrurga Rocks on the Gerlache Strait.  As we disembarked our zodiacs, we were instructed to move single file in silence past the two Weddell seals sprawled out on either side of our path so as not to disturb their rest.  It felt a bit unreal to walk past a giant life-sized version of a stuffed toy with wide, innocent eyes I’d had as a child.

As we moved past the seals and up the hill, the sun highlighted the sweeping landscapes all who travel to Antarctica dream to photograph.  Jutting rocks dotted with chinstrap penguins, surrounded by snow and sparking water.  It was so bright, it actually hurt to look without sunglasses.

We all came together to get an official photograph as a collective; a group of women from 26 nations. As we broke apart to explore the island on our own or take pictures with fellow women from our own country or with newly made friends, it dawned on me just how well we’ve come together on this journey.  We’re here not despite our differences but because of them and our eagerness to learn from each other.  To grow together, to lead together, to be stronger together.  We are one week into our three-week journey and though at times exhausting, I’ve experienced growth and exploration each day. My favorite, most cherished part is learning the stories of the others and what brought them to Homeward Bound, seal and penguin anticipation included.