I have never been to Antarctica, and admittedly, visiting the southernmost continent is not high on my bucket list of travel destinations.
Antarctica is the "coldest, windiest, tallest, and most deserted continent on Earth," according to Bulgarian author Ludmila Filipova, yet it "has been alluring people for the last two centuries of human history."
What attracts visitors to this desolate place? There is something special there - "a faery of colors rules the place, while in the play of sunrays endless snowy vast and ice sculptures seem to be chiseled by the hand of an invisible fairy."
According to Filipova, "magic reigns over this distant southern continent." I have discovered the magic of Filipova before, having previously reviewed her fantasies set in the underworld, The Parchment Maze and Dante's Antichthon. Yet, I never expected that the author would captivate my mind and my fascination with tales of the most fantastical place on earth - Antarctica.
In December 2014, Filipova joined an expedition organized by the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute and headed on a southern-bound adventure with the goal of getting acquainted with Antarctica and its secrets. The result is a picture-rich book, A Journey to the World's End (Egmont Bulgaria, April 2015), published in both English and Bulgarian.
"For Bulgaria, Antarctica is a ... symbol of national pride, as our presence as participants in a research mission on the continent marks our contribution to the world as a whole," Filipova writes.
Filipova was deeply impressed by her Antarctic journey, which she recorded in photographs, videos, and texts. "The icy continent is the last place on Earth where nature still exists in a pristine state, preserved as it was meant to be."
Returning home, Filipova launched an initiative to tie this unspoiled continent with hope for a better tomorrow. Her idea is to bury a time capsule under Bulgarian's St. Ivan Rilski Orthodox chapel on Antarctica - a time capsule full of messages from today's people to the generations of tomorrow.
"This will be a letter from everyone willing to participate with ideas, advice, wisdom and knowledge on how to preserve our world - our home. This message might just save the people of the future."
Why store such a time capsule on Antarctica? "Today, the icy continent symbolizes the end of the world, while tomorrow, it might symbolize its beginning." No one has ever done this before, Filipova notes. The project is envisioned as one with Bulgarian origins, but possibly could evolve into "an international phenomenon with its origin in Bulgaria."
"We have the opportunity to make a significant difference," Filipova writes. And it all begins with hope for tomorrow at the end of the world.
Citizens of the world are invited to participate in the Antarctica Project and send their message - whether it be a "scientific discovery, a simple recipe, a philosophical theory, a poem, a piece of personal advice, or anything else" - to the people of tomorrow. Details are on the website.