Do You Know Where Your Antipodes Are?

One of the most enjoyable kinds of recurring surprises throughout life for me has been learning the truth behind or origins of customs, traditions, and sayings we take for granted.

Growing up in Long Island, New York, I was very aware that unfeasible as it would be, if you did actually manage to dig a hole through the Earth, you would come out in China.

Once, around 1984 or so we tried. We soon realized two things: 1) it would take a long time, and 2) we would obviously hit the devil long before we reached China. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized even if we’d made it past Lucifer and the fires of Earth’s molten core, we’d actually have come out in the ocean, south west of Australia.

The people who actually would come out in China live in Argentina and Chile. They are true “antipodes”, from the Greek meaning roughly “against the feet.” I know this now from having seen “Vivan Las Antipodas” a beautifully shot film that follows four pairs of antipodes around the world.

From sleepy villages to bustling cities, modern wastelands to still-fresh lava flows, filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky captures everyday scenes and significant moments alike in his portrayal of life on both sides (or rather all sides) of Earth.

The entire film is very observational which adds to the otherworldly feeling you get of viewing our planet from an outsider’s perspective. Having seen it with a film- and discussion- loving friend, we were able to enjoy many long talks afterwards processing the beautiful and striking images and the context that it gives to all sorts of questions about the lives we lead and the ways we interact with our natural surroundings.

This week, “Vivan Las Antipodas” is showing across the US as part of the Docurama Festival. View the festival trailer and see dates and locations, then share your thoughts below. Do you know where your antipodes live? Have you ever visited the spot?


Four pairs of worlds exactly one world apart from each other form the stories told in "Vivan Las Antipodas." (Image courtesy Docurama Films)
Four pairs of worlds exactly one world apart from each other form the stories told in “Vivan Las Antipodas.” (Image courtesy Docurama Films)



Human Journey

Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.