Strange things happen when crossing oceans. The time zones fly by and the terms yesterday, today, and tomorrow lose meaning when leaving at night, travelling for 8 hours, and landing at mid-afternoon the next day, especially when awake for at least 24 hours. I’m assured I can reclaim this missing time in two weeks. We shall see.
Our flight left the Humphrey Terminal (I won’t use the numbers and I still shop at Dayton’s) at 7:30 Friday night on Iceland Air, an airline quaint enough to require flight attendants to wear silly hats and name their planes. We landed in Reykjavek, where we had a three hour lay-over due to some sort of mechanical problem with our connecting flight. The airport was small but fantastic, with more duty free-shops than there were people in the airport a6 6:30 in the morning. Times are tough in Iceland. The entire economy collapsed during the financial crisis and has not yet recovered. Even when times were good they were rough, given their geographic isolation, treeless moonscape, and the failure of Bjork’s acting career. But they’ll survive, as they always have and probably always will. All hearty peoples find a way to laugh through the toughest times, which is my only explanation for naming the airplane Eyjafjallajokul, or the unpronounceable volcano that shut down European airspace for weeks.
Entering Scandinavia, where they refuse to fear the rest of the world despite last year’s terrorist attack, requires a sense of humor, but not a passport stamp. In Iceland my wife was asked with whom she was travelling. I had gone through first and already explained that I was travelling with my wife. The guard asked her, referring to me “So I take it you know him.” She laughed and said “Yes, we are married.” He replied “Happily?” She said yes, which was the key to officially entering Iceland. In Norway, their was a doorway and nothing else as long as you had nothing to declare at customs. Norwegians are a practical people, and if you have nothing to declare, why have you declare nothingness when you can skip declaring anything. I’ve been assured I will at least get a passport stamp on the way out, which is a good thing.
We are staying with the very extended family of my wife, a soon to be middle-aged couple and their 16 and 20 year old daughters, the only two Norwegians between the ages of eight and 28 that were not swept up in Biebermania and the subsequent riot that shut down Olso for a few hours last week. Just south of Olso and high up on a hillside, it is reminiscent of Minnesota’s Northshore if the hills were higher and the water was saltier.
Our first meal could be seen as controversial. Norwegians eat whale, and without much of a sustainable meat supply other than goats, it is a viable and consistent source of protein. And before you get mad at me for eating flipper, let me first get mad at you for eating Bambi or Babe. For the record, whale tastes like elk with a bit of ocean mixed in. Along with the whale was scallops in sweet-pea puree, and wine, wine, and more wine. The sun was high in the sky at 9:30 pm. We had proven we could stay awake for 30 hours, and that “Uff Da” is a real expression used by real-life Norwegians. We were not prepared to prove anything else.