Museum of Memory of the Victims of Repression

Expedition Karlag: A hellish last week

Time to set off on a new journey of discovery. I believe this will most likely be the most important journey I have ever done. Right now, there´s a lot of if´s. A good friend of mine, Theo from London, and myself , well, we want to do a very, very important documentary about a few survivors of Stalin´s terrible system of penal colonies, the so called GULAGs. I will come back to you with the full idea as quick as I get a bit of air. Right now, it is just one terrible moment of maximum things to do and get done, before leaving. So have patience, I will soon fill you in on the idea we have.

The last week before setting off on an Expedition or a big journey, like this one to Kazakhstan, is extremely demanding. It is almost a week of hell, but with lots of joy and expectations involved. Sure, I have been doing this for almost 30 years now and one would think that I would have gotten use to it. I have. But it is still hellish! And I do the same mistakes over and over. As always, I am pushed for deadlines and I think I will have the concentration to do a good job this last week, that is just…dumb. Same this time, but I sleep now more than 5 hours a night now. I got up at 4 a.m this morning, I have a bad cold, head ache, I am reading an article the first thing I do sent over by Theo which shows that I have no idea at all what I am supposed to do on this journey professionally and my youngest daughter, Dana, is playing up all the time, due to the reason she cannot come.


I am drinking loads of coffee all the time, just to keep me a little bit sharp. But the cold makes me heavy and the sore throat makes food taste like nothing. Worst is I can´t train the last week n the fear of picking up something much worse, like my dreaded nightmare, an inflammation of the heart muscle. And I have to remember all small details, don´t mix vitamin C and coffee. remember to buy what you need, even though the economy is lousy, but it will cost more at the end product, to be too stingy on detail. Better to buy a good quality SD-card, than a lesser one.


My family hate this week as well. I mean my wonderful wife and my girls. I have problems telling my daughters I am leaving, because they will be very sad. We have so much fun together. And they want to come. Both of them. But Dana is the one who acts out all the time, kind of punishing us all for me not bringing her. She doesn´t sleep either and that is no good thing at all, as regards to toddlers. So her mood swings are many, but she is still great fun. But she is especially demanding on her sister, who is the kindest of human beings. It isn´t easy for anyone of us. My wife says the last week is a time when getting me to listen or help out, is impossible. I have my mind elsewhere. What to do? Fortunately my wife knows she is in the same boat before leaving herself.

So, I have done a list of things I have to buy before leaving. That means I have to go outdoors and that will kill time I need to sort things out at home here. So, I am thinking, maybe get it all at the airport at Kastrup? Like SD-cards, 8 of them, batteries….maybe. Don´t forget cash dollars….I have the visa…..but no decent head wear. I am bald and the heat in Kazakhstan right now is quite tough. Maybe H&M at Kastrup? They have these Fidel Castro style caps I like.

Worst is I feel I haven´t done enough research, I haven´t written the best of treatments and I won´t be able to do all this -which I always believe- on the trip to Karaganda. & hours with a 6 hour stop at Sheremetyevo in Moscow. And I have never met Ken, Theo only once, and taking all this in, will we still be able to do a good job together? Obviously I am slightly worried! They probably more than me!

And, I have some worries, will the apartment in Karaganda and the house in Dolinka be comfortable enough for my partners? I am used to hard living, but are they? None of them have ever been to a post-Soviet society and will be slightly surprised, I know this. Everything is smaller, tighter and less comfortable, but people way better.

We will see….I wish I could clear this cold out of my head!!!! A Hellish Week, time for a new Expedition….


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