Since leaving Johannesburg in March 2015, we have travelled over 86 614km. We left our comfortable lives to chase foreign and exciting experiences, and get out of our comfort zones. One of the challenges we set ourselves early on in our trip, was to live within the Arctic circle during the summer months, and say “good night” to the night for 5 weeks.
We chose to stay in a town called Alta, right at the top of Norway, and work on a lodge that housed over 70 Huskies. After a two-hour flight from Oslo, we arrived in a rather cold Alta, on the 1st of May during the transition between Spring and Summer. The first thing we noticed was the spectacular scenery, and we were blown away to think that this was what we’d call home for the next 5 weeks.
Once we arrived at our host’s house, about 10km from the main town, we were ushered into our small room in one of the wooden cabins, and soon found out that it wasn’t quite a room until a few hours before we’d arrived. You see, it had been converted from a walk-in-closet the day before, and now we’d be sleeping here for the duration of our stay. We were happy to see that our cosy space had a window, but immediately noticed that it sadly had no curtains. Bright light fell into our room from the evening sun outside, and we realized that there would be no way that we could sleep, knowing that at this time of year the sun would be shining for almost 24-hours. We soon pegged some clothes up, to give us some rest-bite from the blinding light, and although only a temporary solution, it did the trick.
That night, the sun did dip below the horizon, but only slightly, and the sky remained illuminated and very bright. By mid-May, we were very much used to having no darkness, and by May 17th, we said goodbye to the darkness all together. The midnight sun was upon us, and the next time Alta would see darkness, would be on July 27th.
Celebrating the Midnight Sun
The people who live in these parts of the world are tougher and more adaptable that we could’ve ever imagined. The summer months are a productive time for them, and they often work late into the night. The mornings would have a slow start; I remember we would wake up at around 10:00 a.m. and lunch would be taken shortly after 12:00 p.m. Afternoons had multiple “Fikas” (the Swedish term given to cake and coffee breaks) with our Swedish and Norwegian friends, and of course a late dinner was on the cards, sometimes as late as 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. We would sometimes get back to work after dinner, either working with the dogs, or chopping or stacking wood. If we had time off, we would go on long, late-night hikes along the river, and I remember taking an 11-hour road trip up to the North Cape, leaving at 9:00 p.m. and having the sun keep us company for the entire journey. Purely magical.
Our body clocks were definitely in shock; it felt like a strange form of jet-lag, as our bodies and minds only really felt tired in the early mornings, and most nights we’d go to bed at around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
The 9-to-5 “day shift” we had back home didn’t exist here, and there was no urgency to get work done before the evening. When you’re in a place such as this, there is no reason to fight the way of life — you listen to your body, and go to bed when you’re tired, and eat when you’re hungry.
It’s hard to imagine that at this time of year, the chilly months, Norway and the other areas within the Arctic Circle are experiencing the complete opposite way of life now, having absolutely no sunshine. A life with no light is something we’ll have to experience one day too 🙂
A big thank you to our hosts, who became almost like family. We will see you again soon, but next time we’ll bring a headlamp.
Coco the Siberian Husky
To follow our story, check out howfarfromhome.com or find us on Instagram, Facet or Twitter @HowFarFromHome.
#HFFH_travels >> @ChanelCartell and @StevoDirnberger
BEFORE YOU GO
Travel Zen: National Parks