Friday, May 25, 2007

Out of Africa... some more after-effects

When I wrote about the trek Out of Africa lately, I was complaining about my ancestors. I was not quite done though, and feel that I can’t have this unsaid. They planted my genes up here… so bloody far north! We’ve got something called midnight sun up here. We cannot escape the sun no matter how the earth spins for part of the year. The sun is of course not a bad thing! The midnight sun is a very exciting phenomenon among tourists… What they failed to tell you about in the travel brochures though is the midday darkness the other half of the year. No matter where you look, the angle or the spin… you have no choice but to put up with total darkness! In the northern parts of Norway at this part of the year, people have to look very far to find any light… far into outer space to be exact. Seek and you will find they say… and we did find it! We call it Aurora Borealis, northern light or polar light. Now that’s a tourist attraction too! Can’t they see that it’s actually tragic though??!! I can only admire the Norwegian tourism industry though for making this into something worthy of a visit.

Just to give you an idea about Norway and sun… Svalbard, the island, also belongs to Norway. God forbid, we couldn’t just stop on the mainland. Although cold, Philip Pullman makes it sound like a fairy tale in his book; "The Golden Compass". Svalbard sees light for only half the year, and has in effect got only one sunset and one sunrise a year. That's Norway in a nutshell!

On the milk cartons in Norway they always give you some information about nutrition and some entertaining stuff. This is stuff that you read in a few seconds during your breakfast or lunch or whatever. It’s one of my last days before I go back to South Africa, and this morning I’m drinking my low fat milk… actually extra low on fat. 1,5%, but with added D-vitamins! I’m reading about the reason for the added D-vitamins! Us folks that live so far north are apparently unfortunate to live all the way up here (They said it, not me!). The sun transforms some stuff under our skin to D-vitamins. Because of the lack of sun-hours during winter, we have a deficiency of D-vitamins. I want all my vitamins, and now I’m even more pissed with my forefathers. I’m not even looking for the arguments, but find that people are exchanging them all the time, and in any possible medium… like the milk carton!! Amazingly, the Norwegian population is growing still... in the dark and cold and with all the vitamin deficiencies.

Still – on the 17th of May, the constitution day in Norway, people are waving their flags and sing about how much they love Norway (national anthem). Back here in South Africa now, I’m enjoying my own-brewed D-vitamins. I can almost feel them sizzling right under my skin under the African sun… and this is winter here!

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