Friday, May 11, 2007

Out of Africa - the first great trek!

I left South Africa for a little while recently for a short trip back home to Norway. I had the warm summer months behind me in South Africa and arriving after the long cold and dark winter months in Norway. In 2-3 weeks time I'll return to South Africa and a not so terrible African winter. The timing for me is perfect! Diving in South Africa in exchange for skiing in the cold is a good deal for me. As I jump off the plane in Norway though it's not the fresh and pleasant summer air that hits me. It's fresh by all means - damn cold!!

The following morning after I arrive in Norway, I wake up early. The grass outside is white! No snow, but frost. A couple of hundred meters further up the road I can still find some snow though. This is May. When I graduated from High School it was a custom... or more like a demand and a group pressure to have a swim in the lake before the 1st of May. That sounds pretty ridiculous and not very tempting right now. I did it back then... and a lot of other stupid stuff of course. I almost slip and cripple myself on the frosty and slippery stairs outside when I'm going to get the newspaper. I curse my own ancestors for settling down up here.A local character with a passion for nature, wildlife and geology has reconstructed a Mammoth. That's the kind of things that you find around here. The remains of the Mammoth was well kept and possible to rebuild. That can only happen at this latitude in ice or permanently frosted ground... so you can imagine what we have to deal with up here. They have put the Mammoth inside a big house now... can't leave it out in the cold of course. But why the hell did they have to travel so far north - my ancestors? They must have noticed how it was getting colder and colder further north, right?

I took my son for a stroll on a small road inside the woods here. We saw a hare that was in the process of changing from winter to summer fur. At first I thought it was a rock with some kind of white fungus growing on it. Then as the rock started jumping, I realized that the fungus was actually the ears that was still white and that the legs was also still white. The snow had evidently left only a short while ago. Later in the day as I walked downtown I noticed all the pale people! Natures way is truly incredible... they still had their full winter camouflage intact!
I went to Sterkfontein in South Africa recently, and the Cradle of Human Kind. If it's true what they claim, then South Africa is where the first humans set their foot. Mrs Ples and Littlefoot did at least. This was a long time ago of course. Probably back in the days when there was only one big super continent called the Pangea. The Pangea started splitting up and drift apart and became Africa and Europe and the rest like we know it today. The early humans started off in the south and obviously spread out across the one and only (still) continent. Then a few of them jumped over to Europe just in time for the European voyage. The same thing with the Americans and Asians. Australia was a different story - that was deportation and much much later!

Anyway, my theory is that all humans at this early stage was in fact black. Then as they jumped over to more appealing continents, nature helped them to adapt to their new neighborhoods. Obviously the northern settlers needed to blend in with the snow to sneak in on the animals. So nature bleached us, plain and simple. Charles Darwin forgot to mention this in his book; "Survival of the fittest". Pale as we are... we are fitter than most imaginable creatures up here in the ice and snow.

I can picture my own ancestors standing there on the northern edge of the African continent... around Egypt... some in Alger maybe. The gap to the other side was getting bigger, and they were forced to make a decision. Which side do they prefer? On the one side they had elephants, rhinos and springbok. On the other side they could see the mammoths, elks and deer. The elephants and rhinos were too scary... and the springboks too hard to catch. Except for the mammoth, it appeared to be a good trade. It was a moment of now or never... so they jumped over to the other side. A giant leap for man, a bigger one for mankind... and fatal for me! Neil Armstrong stole that line from my ancestors for his puny moonwalk. Proof of mankinds idiocy both. Well, on the bright side (back then - not now), the temperature must have been pleasant on the opposite shore of the Mediterranean stream/pond. The morons kept going and followed the animals into the snowy and icy mountains though, and settled down almost on top of a glacier. No bloody excuse for that!

I read this book recently about historys biggest blunders. My forefathers are not mentioned anywhere, although worthy of the first volume alone in my view. I mean, if they wanted a cool breeze and some occasional snow... couldn't they just climb up in the Drakensberg for a short while... or Mount Kenya... worst case Kilimanjaro??? No, they had to come all the way up here and sit down next to an eternal iceberg. In Norway we've got some rules for when you're walking in the mountains... and one goes; "it's never too late to turn back"!! I don't know if that applied back then... it should of course. Maybe the chief that was guiding his clan was just too bloody proud to do so... and didn't want to lose face. Considering that they came from the south, that is highly possible. I know a lot about "losing face cultures"! Not losing face brought me here... and through a Bangkok marathon!

The Boer people in South Africa made a "Great Trek" and called themselves voortrekkers, although it was a walk in the park compared to "our trek". My forfathers made a huge trek and a leap if that's anything to be proud of. My roots were planted up here... and now I have to deal with it. Slipping on the stairs is just one of the minor hazards around... although the mammoths are gone long time ago, domesticated or kept indoors - thank god(s). Now I've dealt with it though, and booked my ticket back to South Africa on May 20st.


Sleepless in Manhattan said...

This was funny Jonny! I laughed all the way through. BTW: will be back in Sweden on Saturday morning. Pains me to know you're just a few kms away, but cannot see you and Troykie before you leave back to lala land....

Jonny said...

Thank you Rupi! If I had the time I would have been in Sweden waiting for you. Please pass my love and sympathy to Fredrik and his family.

Sleepless in Manhattan said...

Darling, happy birthday. Hope you've been having a wonderful day!! And happy syttende mai!!