The Gamvik Experience, Chapter I : First Steps
Eight hours and a half driving, a spin followed by a crash in a snow mount, a belt repaired on the parking lot of the last supermarket in Finland and a wild lunch in front of the toilets of the same supermarket. This was the price to pay to arrive finally in Gamvik, a small Norwegian village of one hundred and fifty inhabitants, the northernmost village in continental Europe.
I feel privileged to enter into this sanctuary of simplicity and tranquility. The sky is completely clear, ducks and seagulls enjoy the fresh water of the Barents Sea, birds are singing and temperature is mild. I feel like I am in another world. Wait a moment, I am in another world! Ground is still snow-covered but everything else is different here. No more forests and infinite frozen lakes. Instead, harsh and ruthless mountains surrounded by an unpredictable sea. The smell of iodine and the relaxing sound of the waves enchant my senses. A couple of wooden houses painted in a thousand different vivid colors dot this fairytale landscape. Blue, red, yellow, green, … A rainbow made of wood and glass takes shape in front of my gaping eyes, enhanced by the warm tints of the first lights of the sun, missed during the long Arctic winter.
The typical Finnmark mountain roads are a whole different world. Far from the (temporary) quietness of the bay in which Gamvik nests, mistreated by an unceasing wind, they represent the exact opposite. An infinity of snowflakes cover the frosty and barely visible road every single second. Shot out by incredibly strong winds, they crystallize instantaneously in a umpteenth layer of ice on this wore out asphalt, eroded by the intense forces of nature, in this place that could easily be qualified as cursed if it was not for its beauty. On the left, white mountains arise from the frozen waters of the Barents Sea as strange carapaces. Likewise on the right. No tree can be seen or perceived. No tree could actually be able to survive in such conditions; there is no point in looking for them any longer. Far away, summits wear this warm pink and orange tint of the new sun in Arctic territories. So, I remember why I am so fascinated by this country called Norway.