Donnerstag, 24. September 2009

northern exposure

combining the need to gain some headspace with the opportunity to visit a place i had wanted to visit since i was a child, i found myself on a plane cruising towards the faeroe islands into a pastel-coloured sunset over the north atlantic. a sea, as james joyce poignantly observed, was both 'snot-green and scrotum-tightening' (but more about that later). while the occasionally visible natural gas rigs flaring off their excess produce were a sight in their own right, i was more fascinated by the alcoohol-consumption patterns on board. eventhough i am more than familiar with the attitude of finnish and other eastern european air travellers confronted with possibility of limitless booze on a flight, i must respectfully say 'chapeau' to the faeroe islanders. standard orders for the first round to go with the flimsy sandwich of a meal were along the lines of "two akvavit, three beers, and two baileys please. oh, and two bottles of red wine too if you dont mind. and maybe a whisky, just in case." the second round was no different and during descent my neighbour ordered three beers and two red wines which he heroically downed before disembarking approx. 7 minutes later. like said, chapeau!

if there was a recurrent theme in my conversations with faeroese, however, it was the weather. i have yet to find a society as weather-obsessed as the one here. on ethe one hand, it is of course more than understandable. sitting precariously on some steep cliffs in the middle of he north atlantic and completely at the mercy of the raging elements, it is an obvious issue to worry about. nowhere else have i been served a print-out of the updated weather forecast for the next three hours with breakfast in a hostel. but, and here's the crux, it was completely off. well, not completely. sun, clouds, rain and wind are constants; low fog, high fog, sleet are variables. all one can do is guess (and discuss, at length and to no end, as i found out) is in what order they will be comning in and for how long. from my experience so far 10-15 minutes seems a good bet, leading to scenes like the one today where an older villager told me, within a space of 20 minutes, first "ah, tis a pity you come now, such bad weather" to be followed by "ah, tis wonderful weather here, no? lucky you're here now!" and not be wrong in his statements.

apart from discussing the weather, chasing sheep and doing far too little work on my thesis, i decided to go beneath the impressive, pounding waves of the north atlantic. beautiful, colourful and immensely rich with life, which surprised me somewhat. but it was also quite heavy-duty. next time i dive off the balmy waters of bunaken in a t-shirt, i'll reflect back on how i was ungraciously struggling to clamber up a kelp-covered concrete pier in the pitch-black night with almost the equivalent of my bodyweight in equipment strapped on to me, pulled back down into the icy atlantic by the relentless surf and pushed back down by gale-force winds whipping the rain horizontally into my face. in and of itself a beautiful experience, though, and one that reminded me of how easy i often have it. and not just in terms of diving...

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