Slow in Vardo

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon and it’s already been dark for hours.  Today, as every day at this time, the south-bound Hurtigruten steamer stops briefly in the little Norwegian town of Vardo.
Not much happens in Vardo. Particularly in winter. The temperature is way below zero. The air is cold enough to sting as you breathe in. Everything is quiet.  The layer of snow on the ground deadens all sound.  The gently falling snow keeps everyone inside the brightly lit houses.
Through the treble-glazed windows of the “Nord Pol” bar I can see, but not hear, the locals sipping “Arctic” beer from the Mack brewery.
The only sign of outdoor activity in Vardo is down in the harbour.  A few packages are winched off the steamer and deposited into the snow on the quayside, before being hauled into the warehouse.  Further along the quay, a solitary small fishing boat comes in out of the darkness, and its two man crew unloads the fresh cargo in thickening snow flurries.
After a few minutes, the ship sounds its plaintive warning hooter summoning any stray passengers back aboard.  After another few minutes, the gangway is hauled away and the ship pulls out into the fjord.  The harbour gate clangs shut and lights start to go out. Vardo fades back into silence. The snow continues to fall.

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