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Haakon at the cash in his store

(Post 2 of 5)

Haakon Sandvik grew up in Longyearbyen. His mom, Anne Lisa Sandvik, is known as “Mother Svalbard,” and she wears a golden pendant of the islands around her neck

Many of the young people we have met here come for the outdoor lifestyle of glacier travel and dog teams, but Haakon is different. He owns a souvenir and housewares shop called 78 Degrees Tax Free. We hung out at his shop the day over 3000 tourists came to town. He sold a lot of stuffed polar bears that day.

I asked why he decided to stay in Longyearbyen: “My family is here, and I grew up here,” he said. “Oh – and I’m allergic to grass and trees.” Haakon loves computer games (especially Defense of the Ancients 2) and Netflix. He met one of his good friends online playing World of Warcraft; “We’ve visited and gone on road trips together over the years”

Haakon also talked about the seasons. He couldn’t remember exactly when the sun disappears each year (Sometime at the end of October) but he knows exactly when it comes back (March 8th)

Haakon recommended that we meet the pastor next. But before we could get there, we got into a heated discussion with some French tourists. Check out the next post.

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