17:55 GMT +322 January 2020
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    Unfazed by the thousands of kilometers separating them from their families, scientists and military members working in the Antarctic plan to celebrate Christmas the way they always do back home, Colonel Gustavo dal Monte, chief of Uruguay’s Artigas Base scientific research station told Sputnik Mundo.

    In the walkup to Christmas and the New Year, members of the Uruguayan mission have already spruced up a Christmas tree, prepared presents from their “Secret Santa” and stocked up on food millions of their countrymen traditionally feast on during the holiday season.

    “We are doing exactly what we would be doing in Montevideo during this holiday season. Far as we are from our near and dear back home, we still feel the Christmas spirit,” Colonel Dal Monte told Sputnik Mundo by phone from the station on Waterloo Island 3,000 kilometers south of the Uruguayan coast.

    Knowing that by Christmastime they would be on the “White Continent,” the new team of researchers, who arrived on December 8, had come packed with gifts they planned to place under the Christmas tree.

     “We knew that we were bound to spend Christmas here and each of us took along a present. The Antarctic is not the best shopping place around, so we decided to stock up on things back home,” Gustavo dal Monte said.

    He added that while in Uruguay Christmas temperatures often shoot up to a sweltering 30 degrees Celsius, the thermometer on Waterloo Island had dropped to a very crisp one degree above zero.

    “With all this wind it might well be down to minus 5 though,” the Colonel added.

    During the Christmas season the sun in Montevideo goes down at 9 p.m. and reappears at 5 a.m. and New Year toasts are pronounced at midnight.

    Not so in the Antarctic.

    “Midnight here is broad daylight. The sun sets about 12 p.m., but it is never dark. The sun is up already at 2.30 a.m. There is a brief twilight period between sundown and sunrise, but it never gets dark, really,” he continued.

    Another thing that makes Antarctic Christmas at the Artigas Base so special is the coincidence of the time zones, which means that people working here can always call their families back home without fearing to wake them up.

    State Telecoms Company Antel provides landline telephone linkups with any number across Uruguay. It also ensures mobile phone communications and round-the-clock access to the Internet.

    The base personnel also use radio and electronic postcards to congratulate their colleagues working at other scientific stations in the area.

    “I keep in touch with my family via the Internet or WhatsApp. Sometimes we are chatting via Skype, so distance is not really a problem,” the Colonel noted.

    Even the Christmas menu here differs little from the mutton barbeque Uruguayans traditionally eat on Christmas, and grilled piglets with salad on New Year.

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