Bjorn carried the vegetables, cheese and wine into the kitchen where he found Ante busy preparing two large roasts for dinner.
"Here´s your groceries, debit card and receipt," Bjorn said with a smile, putting everything onto the large dining table occupying the centre of the room.
"Great! And how did you like the place," Ante replied, giving Bjorn only a brief glance before continuing the process of marinating the meat.
"Well, it certainly is a strange place."
"You liked it though, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I did. But it is a desperate place, isn't it? At least for some."
Ante didn't respond to this, turning instead to the basin where he washed his hands briefly before going over to the groceries left on the table by Bjorn.
"Not a bad catch for so little money, don't you think?" Ante asked while checking the receipt.
"It's unbelievable," Bjorn agreed. "Here we are, way up in the arctic, with everything priced as if we were in some southern European country."
"And have you seen the price of the cheese?" Ante asked with a sly smile.
"Yeah, I was wondering about that. Those are Norwegian cheeses, but the prices are just a fraction of what they are in Oslo."
"You know why, don't you?"
"Well, there is no taxes on anything," Bjorn ventured.
"No, that's the wine. No alcohol tax and no sales tax. The cheeses are subsidised."
Ante was quite enthusiastic about this fact and continued eagerly on his explanation. "The colony is not only tax exempt, it gets all its food from abroad, so we get the double advantage of not having to pay any taxes while having tax payers fork over money to us whenever we buy stuff with export subsidies."
"Really?" Bjorn asked, not sure if this was something to celebrate.
"Yeah! And we all benefit from this since the food budget is fixed according to Oslo prices," Ante continued. "The combination of no taxes and export subsidies is what allows us to live like royalty here on the base while military bases all over the country are cutting back on everything due to the crisis."
Bjorn nodded and smiled as this was explained to him. "I must say I was expecting something less extravagant when I came here, especially in light of the news stories about military personnel driven to their wits end, and almost revolting due to the cutbacks."