Morocco may have been a country of sound to me, but it was the drastic shift in color that hit me first when I landed in Tromso, Norway. From the sepia sun and buildings I was suddenly in a land of grey and blue. And being above the Arctic Circle in winter, another thing was missing as well: the sun.
The town still received four hours of sunlight a day, although it was typically muted by grey clouds. The lack of light had a silver lining though: it was ideal for seeing the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, the clouds made that difficult, so to keep busy we visited museums, reindeer, and pretty much every café in the town. Upon questioning the menu, one particular barista bristled: “Do you have hot chocolate? Of course, we are above the Arctic circle.”
Warm beverage in hand, we explored the little town from the top of the cable car overlooking the city to the polar bear at the center of the Polar Museum.
Throughout the exploration, we kept one eye on the sky for a hint of any lights. We still hadn’t seen any when we boarded a bus one morning for the Lyngen fjords, a few hours east of Tromso. There, we joined a Bolivian surf-shop owner turned Arctic guide who imparted wisdom on photography, fire-building, relationships, and soup. He promised us the best bet of seeing the lights, and some snowmobiling to boot.
Unfortunately, mother nature foiled us once again. Tromso had been experiencing unseasonably warm weather (well above freezing), and so much snow had melted that there wasn’t enough to snowmobile on. To cope, we had a delicious reindeer dinner and lit the fire in our lavuu: a teepee-esque structure with a central fire. These lavuus were specially built to be permanent and offer views of the night sky with glass ceilings.
It paid off: just before bed we heard the sounds of a man yelling with a distinctive Bolivian accent and a tinge of green in the sky above the lavuu. Rushing outside, we were not disappointed: dancing in the night sky was The Green Lady herself.