Thursday, 16 April 2009

Return to Guatemala after another Norwegian winter

Here we are yet again aboard White Admiral and anchored in Placencia, Belize. We only left deep snow in Norway eight days ago, while here the trades are blowing their tepid breeze, the bougainvilleas are in magnificent bloom and I’ve had two swims today – so far. The speed at which we can go from one continent in Nordic winter to another continent in Tropical summer is part of the fascination of this life.
Our latest winter interlude in Norway meant a major change in our lives as we sold our three storey house with garden in Kristiansand and moved to a ground apartment in Lier near Drammen. The main reason was to get near our son Martin and the two grand-children; Hedda and Johan in Oslo and my mother Eli in Sandefjord. The added bonus is a more practical way of living with old age in mind, and the fact that two of our best friends, Dagmar and Christian, are next-door neighbours. That we also have a fantastic view over Drammen Fjord with a small beach only 20m from the front window, a large hospital and a good rowing club less than 10 km away and excellent conditions for outdoor activities are all an extra bonus.
The physical challenge and the paper work involved in clearing out and selling a house we have lived in since 1983 was done mainly by Diana, so no medical work for her during this period home, while I had my last two months at the Department of Medicine, Sørlandets sykehus. I still enjoy my work very much and was truly sad to leave after my 10th period there since 2004. The department organized a touching farewell dinner complete with speeches, song and gift. I will indeed miss a lot of those nurses and doctors and other colleagues. And of course we have many more good friends in Kristiansand that we will miss, but we will make an effort to stay in touch. The rowing club is another place where especially I have spent a lot of time. Our daughter Elisabeth rowed here for several years, I’ve taught a number of other youngsters to row here, too, and our trans-Atlantic rowing expeditions were prepared here .
So Christmas 2008 was the last one in Kristiansand and we were glad all our children, grand-children and partners could make it. Like 2007 it was a split or rather double celebration as Martin’s ex-wife Camilla and the children were with her family on 24th and with us 25th December. Finn, our now 6 months’ old grand-child from London seemed very happy at receiving gifts for two days running, although he seemed equally excited by the wrappings as with the contents! The final big family g get-together round the table on 25th December counted 12 persons, and included Olga, Robert’s Russian girl-friend and my mother Eli.
It was snowing on the day of the main move to Lier, Monday 16th January. It was stressful and hard physical work, but all went surprisingly smoothly. Two days later we were back to clean the house and see the new owner and unscrew the sign Elisabeth made for the door so many years ago. Rigmor made us dinner and gave us a bed for the night and on 19th we made the four hour drive to Lier with our final bits and pieces.
The next two weeks before heading this way were also busy, but it is very enjoyable setting up a new home. In between rearranging furniture, hanging up pictures and lamps and building new shelves we had time for skiing and training in the rowing club. The last week-end we had our three “kids” and two grand-kids Hedda and Johan for a house-warming party. Elisabeth and Robert came over from London, while Martin now only has a half-hour drive from Oslo. (Robert works as a computer programmer for a firm that make robotic arms.) The gathering also included skiing on the frozen fjord to inspect the hardy men that do ice-fishing as a hobby. One of them gave us a nice sea-trout that Diana and I had for dinner after everybody had left!
There is no doubt that we will enjoy our new abode, but we bought the apartment before the World financial crises set in, and sold afterwards, an arrangement as badly timed as it could possibly be. We may therefore have to work more than the usual 2 plus 4 months per year (since 2004) until we get our pension at 67. So our present sailing trip is only till end of April; I’ve already arranged to work with the cardiologists of Buskerud Sykehus, Drammen starting April 27th. Diana is also hoping for ophthalmology work in early May. Meanwhile we push financial worries to the back of our minds and have enjoyed the journey out via London and our family there. We also stopped overnight in Atlanta, USA, before the three-hour flight to Guatemala City and the rather tedious six-hour bus drive to Rio Dulce. A water taxi took us from Bruno’s restaurant by the river to Monkey Bay Marina by 8 pm. Efrain had moored White Admiral along the jetty, had cleaned the outside, and soon we had electricity and water connected, the fridge working and could enjoy dinner at candle light in the cockpit. The full moon and the night sounds from the jungle next to us completed the feeling of magic…

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