A day in the footsteps of Thor Heyerdahl

We’re all exhaustedly happy after the hike and the outstanding views of the landscape surrounding El Pico del Teide. Suddenly we hear: “Get out of the bus – we’re at the museum” and a thought crosses my mind. We’ve already seen and learned so much today, and still there’s so much more planned.

We leave the bus and sit down in the entry area of the “Pirámides de Güímar”, which were explored by Thor Heyerdahl. Some of us already start to study the information signs. Although this journey of a lifetime on a ship named after him couldn’t have been possible for me without Thor Heyerdahl, I don’t know much about him, I realize. All the more reason to look forward to Quentin’s presentation about Thor Heyerdahl’s inspiring and fascinating person. He tells us all about his youth, his expeditions, and his way of living. Thor Heyerdahl always loved nature and animals – he spent one year in Fatu Hiva with his wife Liv and they lived a minimalistic life in balance with nature without the comfort of technical progress. His three most important expeditions – Kon Tiki, Ra and Tigris – were all initiated with the goal of proving that humans travelled between continents earlier in history than we had thought so far. We cling to Quentin’s lips as he talks about every aspect of Heyerdahl’s life.

I start to wonder: This is so interesting. How did I not know any of this earlier? I never actually thought that much about Thor Heyerdahl and now I regret it. His life and his theories are some of the most fascinating anecdotes I’ve ever heard. As Quentin closes his presentation, we all applaud and as I look into the faces of my friends, I can see that they share my thoughts and my newborn thirst for knowledge.

Luckily, when your mind thirsts for information, a museum is the perfect well to still that thirst. We begin our guided tour with a look at one of the actual Güímar pyramids, which we’re about to learn more about. As our guide tells us, these pyramids were kind of a huge solar calendar. If you stand on a specific line on the 21st of June, the longest day of the year, you can see a beautiful phenomenon called the “double sunset”. The sun disappears behind the mountain and just as you think it’s gone, it reappears for a short time.

We carry on with our tour and our gaze finds the Ra II – or at least a copy of it. We watch the ship that carried Thor Heyerdahl and his team over the Pacific closely, if you can even call it a ship. It’s about 15 meters long and still had to offer space for eight men. Suddenly we’re really thankful for all the space we have on the Thor, even if that seemed almost like nothing the first time we moved in. Before splitting up into smaller groups, we take a group picture. It didn’t quite turn out as a group picture though, because a chicken tried to photobomb us. After getting to know it, it seemed really nice though and we became friends. One thing I love about KUS (Classroom under Sails) is that you can bond with all locals no matter how far your worlds are apart, even if they’re an attention-seeking chicken.

We ended the visit of the museum with an hour of free time where everyone could walk around the museum on their own. I chose the botanical garden, which was a splendid idea. As we walked among the beautiful endemic trees, we made another breathtaking discovery, something that we were told about earlier in the tour: lice blood. It was used for all kinds of coloring like lipstick earlier in history and can still be found today, in Campari for example. Half amused, half disgusted, we kept walking. But some of us seriously thought about claiming some of the lice as makeup. I mean, this is even the 100% biological and plastic-free edition!

At five o’clock we all gathered at the bus for the way back to the Thor, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things we had learned and with both smoking heads and hurting feet. But we can all agree on one thing, I’m sure: We couldn’t be prouder of our ship’s name.