Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The food Elson prepared was more than Li Du had expected.
Most of Antarctica was covered in an ice sheet, and hardly any plants could grow here. There were limited varieties of plants, birds, and animals that could adapt to the local harsh climate. The human diet there was relatively simple, mainly depending on supplies brought in by scientific research ships.
Staples included eggs, dehydrated and frozen vegetables and other types of frozen food, meat, aquatic products, dumplings, pizza, canned goods, and all kinds of processed, cured, smoked and conveniently preserved food.
Some of these were on the table, along with fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables.
In addition, there was a large bowl of green salad with fresh vegetables, a large plate of fresh shrimp paste, a small steak cooked until it was oily, fried fish slices, and sashimi.
Li Du looked at the lettuce. It was absolutely fresh. “Did you buy this from Hobart? Why don’t I see any vegetables in the cabin?”
Steve laughed. “No, we grow it ourselves. Do you see the thermal cabin next to us? It’s a greenhouse. The photosynthesis here is strong, and the vegetables and fruits grow well here during the light season.”
“The rich live comfortably wherever they are. I see there are fresh vegetables and fruit to eat even in the Antarctic, even better than in the cities. I suppose you can do anything with money.”
When Steve heard Li Du say this, he shook his head. “You have to make do with what you have. Many vegetables are not fit to be stir-fried so all we could make was a stew.
The shrimp paste that Li Du tried tasted good, and the freshly baked bread spread with the paste had an indescribable sweetness and delicious seafood flavor.
Brother Wolf liked it too. He picked up a knife and kept spreading shrimp paste on his bread.
Both of them had a big appetite, and between the two of them they ate up a plate of shrimp paste.
Li Du made himself at home and said to Steve, “Can we have another plate of this?”
Steve laughed and said, “Sorry, guys, we’ve run out of krill, but after we get up next morning, we can go catch some more.”
Krill was not technically a shrimp. It was an invertebrate shrimp-like animal that belonged to the order krill, suborder limnostraca. Regular krill belonged to the Decapoda, subclass limnostraca.
They lived in colonies, feeding on tiny phytoplankton that converted energy from primary production to sustain the life cycle of their pelagic zone for up to six years.
Far from humans, and with few groups of large predators in the Antarctic ocean, krill were a key species in the Antarctic ecosystem, their total weight estimated at about 500 million tons.
In terms of biomass energy, which is the combined amount and weight, krill was the most successful living species on earth and the least endangered in nature.
When it was time for sleep, Steve arranged rooms for the three of them. Their thermal cabin was large and they had six rooms in it, enough for them and three more people.
Li Du and Sophie lived in the VIP room because it was light outside and the sun was shining all day long. The window of the room was adapted to filter light.
The door had a switch, and when it was pressed, the electric curtain would close and the ventilator would work silently, siphoning fresh air into the room.
If the switch was pressed again, the room would have some light, but not regular electric light. A brilliant starry sky would appear on the ceiling.
When the sky brightened, every now and then a streak of green or orange light would flash across the ceiling.
“Is this supposed to be the aurora?” Sophie asked in surprise. “So beautiful! What a realistic simulation!”
What could Li Du say? He could only sigh and exclaim that it is good to be rich.
After having some contact with rich people, he felt funny when he thought of his former perspective. Once he acquired the two mines, he felt that he could now live a wealthy life and be content with his lot.
In fact, man is never satisfied with what he has. He must continue to work hard, make more money, achieve more.
Before coming to the Antarctic, Li Du thought that it was a zone of frozen desolation. Now he realized that life could be interesting and satisfying here too.
They had a good night in the VIP room.
When they woke up and were ready to freshen up, Elson saw them coming out and took them to a large insulated room next door where they could wash.
After they opened the door, a garden appeared before them.
They saw roses, jasmine blossoms, dahlias, and many other kinds of flowers blooming in tidy flower beds. A small lavender field spread around. A few footsteps away, they saw a small willow tree, a ginkgo, and dwarf cedar trees.
Steve was working in the garden. When he saw them come in he got up from his knees, wiped the sweat off his face and said, “Good morning, both of you. How was your night?”
Li Du stared at everything around in awe, and then said, “Very good. We are good.”
The greenhouse was even bigger, more than 500 square meters. Half of it was a pleasure garden and half was devoted to vegetable containers. There were cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, celery, kale and so on, growing luxuriantly.
What surprised Li Du most was a small stream running through the place. The water was fresh and was used to irrigate the flowers and vegetables.
The wash-up station was at the head of the stream. There were stones piled into two sinks and some disposable toiletries.
“How did you do that? Where does the stream come from?” asked Li Du.
Steve said, “From down there. There’s a river under the ice sheet. When it is summer and the ice melts, the river will continue to flow. I installed a water circulatory system and the stream water flows in.”
“You really know how to enjoy life,” said Li Du.
Steve laughed. He waved his hand and said, “I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I am doing this to filter the dirty water all at once. The water recycling system and the sewage system come together, and because the degradation of waste here in Antarctica is so poor, we have to use technology to minimize waste production.”
The two of them washed up, and Steve went on with his work, unearthing the vegetables and composting them.
Li Du wiped his face and asked, “Did you also transport the soil from outside?”
“Where else could I get it from?” said Steve.
Li Du had to admire him. “You have a fine life here. It is a real luxury home out here in the pristine nature.”
Steve laughed and said, “Do you think I made this camp? No, I’m just the current owner. It took my parents twenty years to make it into what it is now.”
“That must have cost a lot of money,” said Li Du.
Steve said, “What’s money compared to what we do?”
Then he added sincerely, “Li, don’t let money control you. You have to control money, and never make it your goal to earn money, or there will be no fun in your life.”
Li Du said, “What you say is very reasonable, but maybe you think so because you have too much money.”