Friday, 18 February 2005

Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Wednesday 16th February 2005

In our last report in November we thought that on this day, February 16th, we would be back on White Admiral in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela. Alas, this was not to be. Instead we are relaxing after a big breakfast here at Ramadan Plaza Hotel, Atlanta as our corresponding plane to Caracas yesterday was cancelled... Hopefully the plane this afternoon is on schedule, but again it illustrated how even modern travelling has its delays and surprises. (On the way home in November Diana had a non-electronic passport unacceptable to the Bush Administration and had to fly via Europe while I went alone via Atlanta.) But barring more problems, tomorrow we should sleep aboard our maritime home once more.

Our nearly three months in Norway consisted mostly of work and reunions with family and friends. In addition Diana got her left knee operated for cartilage problems, we did a lot of training for the Sahara Marathon and received a good topping-up of culture. The latter consisted of two monumental operas when passing through London in November; Verdi’s Falstaff and Wagner’s Siegfried, and several excellent concerts in Kristiansand.

Christening of Johan November 28th

Three days after Diana’s operation and the day before starting work, we attended the christening of our second grandchild, Johan Fredrik Hoff in Sørkedalen kirke north of Oslo. It was a glorious winter day with skiers in the surrounding woods and a beautifully behaved Johan in the church. The dress he wore for the occasion was also worn by Johan’s great grandmother Eli in 1916, by me – the proud grandfather - in 1945, by his daddy Martin in 1974 and by his sister Hedda in 2002.
Elisabeth & Hugh in London could not attend the christening, but instead arrived for a comprehensive series of enjoyable family reunions in Oslo around Christmas. Unfortunately the Noro (Norwalk) virus belly- bug did its diarrhoeal best to knock us out in turns. Good for the immune system, I suppose…

Medicine revisited

Diana and I both enjoyed being back at work. Winter in south Norway was very mild this year, so I could cycle to work every day as usual, and Diana’s travels to Arendal (one hour each way) also went fine. She refreshed her ophthalmological skills at the laser machine, and I get slowly better at echocardiography. The team - work with younger colleagues and nurses is something I find especially gratifying. I have always enjoyed teaching, missed it while in private practice, and now find it also a good way to learn more myself. Enjoying work, incidentally, is not so hard when you know there are only a couple of months of it a time…
My last day at work was February 10th. Diana had finished a few days earlier and did most of the packing and cleaning of the house we had rented. (Most our things are back in storage at our friend Rigmor’s at Flekkerøy, the rest is at Eli’s in Sandefjord.) Next day we picked up Robert at Sandefjord and drove to Haglebu near Gol in central south Norway where Dagmar & Christian Platou have a big cottage in the mountains. Their son Hans Christian and his Symira brought 3 months old Fritjof, and Camilla & Martin brought both Hedda and Johan, so it was a genuine, audible three-generation reunion! Apart from my share of cuddling and playing with grandchildren, I had two memorable cross-country skiing trips. Diana did not risk her knee and went for long trips on snow-shoes as well as sledging with Hedda. In the evening some of us played Poker and Settlers. Robert has always enjoyed games and he still does, but Settlers was settled by Martin this time!

Plans ahead

In Puerto la Cruz we hope to have the yacht afloat by 18th and then head for the island of Tortuga a day or two later. On this island known for its long beaches we hope to do most of our preparing for the 240 km of Sahara sands in April. Apart from the unusual strain of walking a lot through soft sand we also have to get accustomed to a backpack of 8-10 kg. Before flying to Morocco the boat will be back on land in Venezuela, so the time on the water is only about 6 weeks. Eli is in Spain for three weeks and we have no other planned visitors either, so if you fancy seeing Venezuela, now is the chance!

18 Feb 2005 by Stein & Diana