The two cranes that Bjorn had been observing from the check point were suddenly fully visible as the car reached the perimeter of the village, just a few minutes after passing the apartment building under construction at the other side of the low hill to the east of the village.
This was a much bigger construction site than the apartment building, and very far from being finished, at least as far as Bjorn could judge. Unlike the apartment building which had people working on it everywhere, only a handful of people could be seen, putting up scaffolding and preparing for concrete to be poured into huge moulds, all with a mesh of iron rods sticking out of them.
The impressive but quiet building site was located at the top of a long, moderately inclined street, leading all the way down to a square by the fjord. A few houses lined the street, but in a rather random fashion, with some houses drawn quite far back from the road, while others were practically next to it. The old village had clearly been constructed without much planning, and the only place with any indication of proper planning was the square which was lined with buildings neatly positioned around the open space in the middle.
The road circling the central square had sidewalks on both sides, and was as far as Bjorn could see, the only bit of road with a sidewalk. No such luxury had been afforded for any of the other roads, of which there were quite a number, all leading into the square.
A small low knoll of a hill, separating the square from the fjord served as a parking space, with several cars placed semi-randomly along its perimeter, and Geir drove the red sedan up next to a car already parked on this hill, adding to the pattern that had been established for the day.
The trip down from the check point had taken less than ten minutes, which left the two men with a bit of time to spare before going over to the fish processing plant. Geir suggested they walk up on top of the knoll as a short detour before going to the plant, and Bjorn was more than happy to comply, feeling an urge for a cigarette and eager to get a fuller view of the village.
The two low hills on either side of the village formed the valley in which the village was nestled, and protruding into the fjord, the same two hills formed a small bay, with the fish processing plant located on the eastern shore, and several houses located on the western shore.
Standing on the top of the knoll separating the town square from the innermost point of the bay, the layout of the village seemed less random than first impression had given cause to believe. The layout was simply following the natural lay of the land, and the wooden houses, painted in all sorts of bright colours, especially blue, red and yellow, were almost all located in spots that were both elevated and shielded at the same time.
A small church, located on top of a steep incline from the road joining the fish processing plant and the village square, perfectly illustrated this fondness for elevated yet shielded locations, located as it was on a rather commanding little hill, but shielded to the east and the north by a rock formation, dwarfing it while simultaneously protecting it from the hostility of arctic winds and weather.
There were quite a number of people out and about in the village considering that it could not possibly be housing more than a few hundred inhabitants and that it was anything but a pleasant summer day. Bjorn had noticed several people selling stuff from little stands in the village square, there had been a gang of people mending holes in the long, straight road leading up the valley from the square to the building site, and others were just walking about, seemingly with no purpose or business at all.
The mending of the road had struck Bjorn as extremely primitive and inefficient, as it was done with no help of any type of machinery, except for a big pan to heat the asphalt, which was poured into buckets as Geir and Bjorn had crawled past in their car on their way down to the square, careful not to hit any of the men. And the asphalt, once poured into the various potholes was made flat by men manually dragging a heavy roller across the soft, oily mess.
From the top of the knoll, Bjorn could see that the asphalt was simply broken up from the sidewalk in front of the casino, at the west side of the square, and taken in buckets up to the pan where it was heated and made into road repair. The process seemed totally nonsensical since the road repair clearly was at the expense of the sidewalk in front of the casino, but by the time Bjorn pointed out the strange spectacle to Geir it was time to go and inspect the fish processing plant.
"We can look at it later," Geir said as they wandered down the hill towards the plant. "I have a few things to buy for Ante while we are down here. Pingo is right across the square from the casino. Maybe it makes more sense once we take a closer look at what they are doing."