This time round, I decided to go and experience life in the Arctic. Not just as a tourist, but as a volunteering igloo builder. Not only in winter, but also the full extend of the thirty odd days of polar night. I remember, before I left for Sweden, I read up about the extreme weather conditions I’ll be exposed to and the effect polar night has on your mind. It was advisable to keep yourself warm and your mind positive. So in the mornings, I will tell myself of five things I liked about myself and in the evenings I’ll be thankful for five things I experienced that day. (Now I am wondering about the use of the words morning and evening when it is just one dark moment?) Anyways. These reflective moments kept my self esteem high and my thankful tank full. It helped alot, but so did taking small tea breaks. Not sure of the facts, but just to keep all your vitals warm in ave -20 deg C, your body burns up so much more energy. In the beginning, most days I only ate once a day, and after a few of those I could feel my energy levels compromised. Problem is, you just do not get hungry. So I tried joining the other staff for a fika or two daily. Which just means, a tea or coffee break in Swedish. It did wonders. The other secret tools were to take regular sauna sessions, say about once every other day. Furthermore, taking your daily shower did not help with giving your body a chance to protect itself through natural oils, taking one or two showers a week also helped your body to keep a more steady temperature throughout.
For about an hour daily, while breaking the constant darkness of polar night, we had these late-sunset-type-pink-clouds-and-sky moments. It was something special to witness. Some days the most fascinating beautiful purple pearly clouds would appear in the sunrise/sunset hour, or some other darker times of day, crystal pillars will appear, espesially when the temperature dropped below -30 deg C. Obviously, staring at the beautiful aurora borealis always made up for the abandoned feeling of the sun. I saw the northern lights about every day. Purple, green and pink dancing flames. My favourite was to watch these through the sauna window while my Swedish colleagues be pumping some dance hits, with each a sauna beer in the hand. Singing along, changing all the words to something ‘aurora’, and then taking a break from the 90 deg F heat with a viking bare bum snow roll outside. What a rush! Your skin felt like it was glowing and in pain all at the same time.
Working with compact snow has been one of my favourite experiences in my entire life. I learned so much in this short amount of time and hope to have some more of these experiences in the future.