The first morning in the new home. Juris quietly wakes me up and bit by bit we start to get ready for going to the seed vault. While we’re heating water and preparing breakfast the others are waking up one by one.
Also Maija who is hosting us, is up. We talk about many things, then I ask her whether she has seen a polar bear at all -? She replied affirmative and told that she had faced one in summer – some weeks after starting the studies here. They had gone to camp in groups outside the town as part of the studies and the polar bear had woken them up in the morning by starting the alarm system. But that didn’t scare the polar bear, and it continued to search for food. The had fired a flare gun which doesn’t hurt the bears, just to scare them off, but that hadn’t helped and it had continued with scavenging and eating. As a result they had fired 17 of the flare guns! Soon the helicopter appeared which they had called out and that finally scared of the polar bear who run away. Everyone got through unharmed but with a big shock and experience. It had been very serious but now it’s possible to tell with a smile on. She said that some people who have been living here for a long time haven’t seen any polar bear, some spot one occasionally, and others meet one soon after arriving here. To see a polar bear is a rare happening and to get attacked by one is even rared.
Me, Agnese and Juris are preparing for a long walk to the seed vault along the old road which is accessible to snowmobiles and pedestrians (armed as it’s outside the town). Anders will also come with us till some moment and then will leave for his own errands in the town. Also the others have their own plans. Some are walking in the town, some are resting – this is the free day, so everyone can do whatever they want.
We will visit the post and the supermarket before going to the seed vault as it has a free wifi. Using the internet Agnese does the things she wants to do in time and Juris is also using the opportunity. Meanwhile I browse the shops. I’m curious on what is on offer here for an active lifestyle. While exploring the shop I concluded that here is almost everything that would be needed to be in winter freeze and summer. Diverse equipment is available starting from cutlery to mountaineering. The clothes are offered in a good variety. There is also Hero Go pro camera and its accessories. If one doesn’t have special requests, one can come here without almost anything and come here to shop, but there is one “but” – the price. The price is as in Norway, but there is also a positive side to it – there are no taxes included in the price since there are no taxes here. If one has a lot of money, it is possible to go on shopping spree. It is more complicated with the alcoholic drinks as you can only buy a limited amount. If you have arrived by plane, you can present your ticket to buy some, but the locals are given a special card to mark how much you have bought.
Agnese finished to use the internet and I to browse the shops. We are going to the post and find out the prices for the post cards. Tomorrow they are issuing a special stamp in honour of the Solar eclipse. The stamp will cost 20NOK.The four of us are going to the seed vault and pushing the acquired kicksled. We cross a bridge and go to see the sundial which is the northern-most and showing time the entire day when it’s the midnight sun here. The time of the sundial matches that of the mobile phone. We sign in the guest book, take many pictures of the sundial and check on how it is here with the shadow of the mountain and where we should observe the eclipse. We concluded that the place is good and it should be possible to see the eclipse between two mountains.
We are heading for the old road and see an old snow bulldozer as well as a cable trolly which has been put out for public to see. Soon we notice on a wall of a building something familiar from one of the previous eclipse trips – an Australian road sign with a kangaroo! It’s not so hot here, however, and there are no kangaroos either.Then we stop at the old sorting place of the cable trollies which come from four directions and the old stanchions are still standing in their places. That’s the history of mining that is kept here as historical heritage, and the old houses are not allowed to be pulled down either. A part of the sections with cables and trolleys is preserved. There is also a GeoCache here. For some time we are looking for it by the description where it should be located, but soon after we find it a bit further away. Meanwhile Anders takes photos. He is not coming further and will go back to the town.
[… to be continued…]