The common journey of Thor Heyerdahl and Fidel Castro

The common journey of Thor Heyerdahl and Fidel Castro

Maribel Acosta Damas

09 Aug 2020
History, News, Society No Comments

Thor Heyerdahl with Fidel Castro. Photo: Archive.

Oslo is small and warm; It is the most populated territory in Norway, which does not reach a million inhabitants … the tram that runs through it and that air that reminds you all the time of the Vinkingos.

The people are simple and without useless affectations. There is life there, and a lot of history: The statue of Ibsen, who always returns rebellion to women or the Nobel Peace Center located in the old Vestbane building in Rådhusplassen square. At the Edvard Much Museum, his anthological work The Scream, again and again seems made for this time of uncertainty. In those days a counterpoint of selfies between the famous North American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and Munch is exposed. Another challenge, more than curatorial, for this time. Rock and salmon are part of nature.

But in addition to all that, Oslo in Norway is the starting point of a journey. Thor Heyerdahl was born there, who made a point of showing that we are mestizos, wandering from one place to another across seas, founding towns, embracing footprints.

Heyerdahl and five other members traveled in rafts from Peru for 101 days along almost 7000 km through the Pacific Ocean, until they reached the Tuamotu Islands, on August 7, 1947. The entire crew reached land safely on that famous journey that meant a before and after for social anthropology: the Kon-Tiki expedition. In Oslo, the Kon-Tiki Museum gives an account of all his travels in a giant and interactive installation, which includes the travel rafts, a collection of cultural objects that the Norwegian explorer took with him after his archaeological investigations on the Island of Easter, as well as a copy of the famous sculptures known as moai. However, the immense dimension of that man’s humanistic spirit remains to be grasped.

Thor Heyerdahl’s greatest journey was on his endless journey to the center of human life. And on that journey he met Fidel Castro, a traveler also on a long journey for dignity from an island. Heyerdahl said: “I am always happy to come to Cuba. The first time was before the triumph of the Revolution; therefore I have had the opportunity to see progress in this country ”.

Cuban journalist Pedro de la Hoz says that the first time he saw the Norwegian was on an unforeseen occasion: The north of the island had just been devastated by Hurricane Kate and Fidel was traveling the area to quantify the damage and make decisions for the prompt Recovery. At the entrance to Caibarién, the caravan of field vehicles stopped for a few minutes and I noticed, surprisingly, the presence of Heyerdahl among Fidel’s companions. From that meeting, there was a statement to the Vanguardia newspaper that I still have: “Only a social organization,” Heyerdahl said, “like that of the Cuban people is capable of successfully facing any calamity (…) I am impressed by the deep identity of the people with their leaders; it is a lesson that many in this world would have to learn ”.

A few months before his death, and again in Cuba, Heyerdahl spoke of the meaning of his research: “I wanted to show that the oceans did not isolate the different cultures during the last 5 000 years, since man had ships that could cross them. Historical scientists have dismissed the wisdom of peoples who knew how to navigate seemingly fragile ships. If in times of less technological development, the seas united humanity, it is a shame that we are now divided by ambitions and selfishness. That is the lesson ”.

Heyerdahl never hid his sympathy for Cuba and Fidel. He always expressed his admiration for the island and his human agreement with Fidel Castro, whom he considered his friend. Both men must have built a timeline with all the future of the world, although it seems too big. It is that both had the common journey of utopia, defended with their own lives and even with the good luck of having met, having been friends and surely having dreamed together some huge adventure for the future.

(Taken from Cubaperiodistas )

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