I think the title to this post says it all in terms of just how bizarre it is to suddenly be here in Svalbard and to start thinking like a local in terms of the rules you've got to abide by. The quote from the title of this post came about on day 2 when I learned that the polar bear to human ratio is 3:2 across Svalbard and that guns help scare away the bears if you happen to cross paths with one. Lucky for me, I have a guide for my time here, gun and all. This guide also so happens to love bringing hot tea everywhere, so it's a win win for safety and warmth. Here is a list of the top rules I've jotted down in my notebook so far:
- Don't leave the center of town without a gun, or without a guide with a gun.
- Weather cycles are worthless here. It was pouring rain when I flew in and now today there was an avalanche a few mountains over. Trust no weather man, not that there is one here anyways.
- You can be anyone from anywhere to come and live or work here. As part of the Svalbard Treaty, any nationality is welcome without the need of visas or other government approval requirements. I've already run into people from Poland, India, Malaysia, Scotland, France, England, and Canada. Anyone want to take me up on the offer to move out here?
- If the sun sets, you better be indoors or have your head lamp at the ready.
- You need an alcohol card to purchase drinks at the grocery store since everyone is limited to how much alcohol they can purchase.
- Like golden retrievers are to America, the husky is to Svalbard. I see a husky for every two or three humans in town. Thus, I now need to adopt a husky.
I thought that the universe was playing a sick joke on me when I walked off the plane and it started pouring rain outside. It was indeed unusual weather for this time of year and I thought maybe I had missed my chance at a snowy Svalbard... then it all changed. I woke up the next day around 1AM from jet lag to see the first snow of the week trickling down. The cruel fake-out of rain was now over and I had to kick things into high gear with hats and gloves and wool from head to toe.
With my next post in a few days, be on the look out for an introduction to the Seed Vault!! Its about damn time, people.