At last!

Everyone is pretty tired after a number of hectic days – or weeks. Isn’t it strange, how much always remains to be done at the last minute? In addition, we all had roles to play in yesterday’s celebration of Nansen’s 150th birthday.
The lads in transit in Santiago, Chile, after a 14-hour flight.

The lads in transit in Santiago, Chile, after a 14-hour flight. One piece of luggage is missing, but apart from that, all’s well. Photo: Harald Dag Jølle / Norwegian Polar Institute

“Fourteen hours and ten minutes!” Jan-Gunnar examines his ticket during our stopover in Paris. “Is the flight that long?” “Yes,” replies a seasoned Norwegian traveller from behind us, “That’s why I always travel business class. I’m too old for anything else.”

We all look rather enviously at our compatriot. Imagine being able to stretch out fully and relax. Close our eyes and sleep our way across the Atlantic. We’re all pretty exhausted after a few hectic days – or weeks. Funny how much needs to be done at the last minute. And we had all had our parts to play in the celebration of Nansen’s 150th birthday the day before.

“But imagine going there with Fram,” mused someone at the security checkpoint. Five months at sea from Kristiansand to Hvalbukta. Four knots average speed, 97 dogs shitting and howling and suffering in the tropical heat. Seasickness. Fram was designed for ice-filled waters, not for the Seven Seas. The round hull that made her queen of the Arctic and Southern Oceans caused indescribable rolling and yawing on the open sea – motion that resulted in terrible seasickness. According to Ivar Fosheim, who was on the second Fram expedition, it was so terrible that for the first hour he was afraid he would die – and the rest of the time he was afraid he wouldn’t die.

No, though we are seated in cheapest tourist class, we have nothing to complain about, even those of us whose legs are well over average length. In fact we are thoroughly contented, sitting here in row 46 and beginning to realise that the adventure is actually beginning. This trip we have been discussing and planning for nearly three years.

“At last,” says the eldest among us and raises his plastic mug, “we’re on our way!” But still, fourteen hours in the air is a long time.