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Pole to Pole

Day 18: Karasjok

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe SAS Turisthotell in Karasjok. Outside my window a flock of sparrows is breakfasting off a bed of newly-sown grass. I rang home last night, then remembered that the family are all on holiday in France. Rang France. It had rained since they got there. Here, above the Arctic Circle, the sun shines and I'd be in shirt-sleeves if it weren't for the mosquitoes. From what I can gather Lapland is where mosquitoes who can afford it go for the summer. Heavy-duty repellent is required, and I'm ready for them with 'Jungle Formula Repel - with added Deet'. Deet, like so many other deadly substances, was apparently developed for the US forces in Vietnam. I'm busy squirting it on any available patch of flesh, when Patti kindly offers the information that it's strong enough to strip paint off cars, and Fraser maintains that it once melted a wristwatch of his.

It's a day of Boy's Own adventures, starting with a ride up the Karasjoka (the Karas River) on a low, swift, wooden canoe in search of gold. My guides are two Same yuppies - Nils Christian who's visited Beverly Hills, and Leppa who carries a radio telephone in his national dress. The river is big business. Though frozen for several months of the year, it is still, according to Nils Christian, the best salmon river in Europe, yielding 133,000 kilos last year.

The tributaries of the Karasjoka are also rich, and in a bubbling stream beside a cool, damp, mosquito-infested stretch of woodland I am initiated into the recondite art of gold panning.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 18
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Karasjok
  • Book page no: 36

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