The air that met us at Tromso airport was clearer than clean crystal and almost made my nose itch. I looked to the horizon where steep, proud mountains shot up from the dark sea, and felt at peace with this northern wilderness.

Lina’s wonderful friend, Lise, is studying medicine in Tromso and was so good to give us shelter in her room at the outskirts of Tromsoya. All three of us slept in the same bedroom, that also worked as a kitchen. Taking the dishes meant getting water from the bathroom. I was surprised to see the living standards of Norwegian students, but Lise seemed happy abouth haveing a place to stay.

The northern light beamed across the sky our first evening in Tromso, but unfortunately neither me nor Lina was aware of it, and instead of observing this phenomenon we were busy making the “fish”cake for the day after. Lina was stirring the pots and I was running to and fro the bathroom with dishes – a perfect cooperation.

The “fish”cake got delicious and made it easier to attract new people to Spire. We won’t claim that our visit was a great success in that respect, but the people coming to our “Fish for the people” lunch seminar was very satisfied and wanted us to repeat it to more students another time. We handed out the rest of the cake to exchange students playing chess. They probably needed it (I’ve heard Tromso gets very dark and cold during winter time).

We were supposed to do a fish stunt at the centre of the city the day after. The municipality of Tromso had given us the permition and we even had a boomblaster to get some attention with. Everything was looking good in other words, up to the point we found out that Platekompaniet in Tromso did not sell shanty music. With that message the air left the balloon and we decided to be tourists in Tromso for our last day.

We started out by visiting the polar museum. I was amazed to see how they used to hunt fish and seals and practically everything they could get hundreds of years ago. And the adventures of Roald Amundsen and Fritjhof Nansen impressed me deeply. How they had the will and the power to do the things they did I can not comprehend.

As Lise and Lina pretends to be sporty (or maybe just all Norwegians behave like that), they convinced me into walking up to the landmark mountain of Tromso – Floya. It looked steep, and most people would get on the car wire. It turned out to be even steeper than I had imagined, but I wanted so badly to let only my own two feet carry me to the top. At one point I felt like my breath was suffocating me, but the others gave me water and a huge amount of motivation. I think they saw how badly I wanted to get up there. When Lise said that “no Zambian woman has ever done this!”, I knew I had to get to the top.

I made it and felt extremely happy. That evening we made pizza in the bedroom/kitchen and played cards. I got a bit confused by the “traditional greek erotic” cards, and blamed my losses on those perverted things.

The next morning we returned to Oslo at six in the morning. I felt happy to have tasted some of the Norwegian wilderness, and though the northern lights didn’t return to show their mystic motions to us, Tromso was a thrill.

– Lizzie Banda