South Africa #7 / Norway # 1 : Wow

This week was wrap up week in South Africa - wrapping up paper, cleaning my room (!), and buying food to smuggle to Norway. You're allowed to bring up to 10 kg with you, so I had an extremely heavy suitcase chocked full of winter clothes, peanut butter, and lentils! You'll see why smuggling was a great idea later in this post...

On Thursday though, I had a really neat experience though - my friend Tinus Horn ( , whom I met through Ballroom dancing, painted a portrait of me. I mean, I was entirely flattered when he offered the week before, but after it was done, I was completely blown away.

The progression of the painting went like this:

After 20 minutes... wow! No bow yet though!

After about 1.5 hours - crucial bow added!

The artist and the final product!

It is actually astonishing how amazing of a job Tinus did. There were times when I was packing that I would it over my shoulder and think it was a mirror. The pictures really don't do it justice either... Thank you so much Tinus!

---- Now for the "Transition" ----

So for those of you who didn't know, my South African adventures took a bit of a turn this week. By turn, I mean I switched hemispheres and travelled North 112 degrees. I'm a tag along on an experimental research project my advisor and Amore' are running in Tromso and will be attending my advisor's lectures this week at UNIS in Svalbard. I'm in the Arctic circle as we speak, eating nutella and wondering how I got this lucky :)

We first did a night-over in Tromso at the EISCAT site before heading up to Svalbard for this coming week. In case you all didn't know, Norway is a perfect country with perfect people who are all tall, skinny, and beautiful (I'm a normal heighted medium fat person here... but really). They have perfect mountains that surround perfect Fjords and perfect snow falls from the sky sometimes. The coffee is always hot but not sue-McDonald's hot and the people smile beatifically because they have universal healthcare and heated sidewalks.

[Only like 20% of that was hyperbole...]

Looking for a single Norweigan man so I can get my citizenship ASAP (this is in Tromso)

First thing I saw in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. No big deal.

This country is wonderful though. Michigan has prepared me extremely well for the cold (didn't even bat an eye going from +30 C to -3 C) and Buffalo, NY has prepared for dealing with excessive snow. We arrived in Svalbard today at 2 PM as the sun was setting. It's been a bit of a whirlwind since then - checking into my hostel, walking around town, setting up a schedule for the week, etc. We did stop at the grocery and I thought I'd share these two things:
That's a $35 USD mango at Svalbard Grocery. Holy Shit. 
The Svalbard grocery finds it impractical to sell holiday foods only at the appropriate time of year.

For the record, the only reasonably priced item (by US standards) that I've found in Norway yet is Nutella. It's about the same as it is in the US, whereas all the other food is at least a factor of 2 higher. I'll go completely broke in Norway, but I'll love every moment of it. 

Stay tuned for this week's adventures - I'm sure there will be many :D 

Happy Lo in Tromso!! 

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