To ancient man, the oceans were not barriers, but pathways.
– Thor Heyerdahl
69 years ago, an anthropologist – who had been doomed to fail by an entire scientific world – banded together an unlikely crew consisting of a navigator and artist, a fridge selling engineer, a couple of telegraph operators and a Swede, and set sail from the port of Callao heading for Polynesia.
But what they were sailing was not a boat, it was a fleet constructed from balsa wood.
Everyone who heard about the adventure thought they sailed to their certain death. But 101 days later, they surfed over the Raroia-reef and showed the world that the impossible was possible.
There aren’t many places abroad that one can get a close encounter with Norwegian history. Norwegians are a rare breed, and we keep mostly to ourselves. Even when we were going to be imperialists, we happened upon some of the most remote pieces of land known to man, land that no one else cared about.
But the port of Callao, half a world away from Norway as the crow flies, is one of the places where Norwegians have not only made their mark. From the port of Callao, we changed world history. Perhaps Polynesia was not populated from the east, but that is only a footnote. Thor Heyerdahl showed the world that pre-Incan civilizations could sail, and that they have had contact with Polynesia has later been proven.
On the twenty eight of April, 1947, an adventure was started that made Norwegians large not only in their own eyes, but in the world’s. As I sit here watching the sea and thinking about the fact that the palm trees that grow behind me have probably been there since 1947, it strikes me that this place, which in some ways looks like any major port in the world, is a temple to something as un-norwegian as standing out. If the Law of Jante is yin, this place is its yang.
The law of Jante states in part: “You should not think you are better than us.”
Thor Heyerdahl not only thought, but knew he was better than the rest of the scientific world, and he proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If you as a Norwegian have been wondering about the reach of the Law of Jante, I now have the definitive answer: it extends to Callao.