Christian emigrated to Iceland from Germany. Because he loves whales, he now works as a whale guide. But it doesn’t get much more personal. Because Christian doesn’t want to reveal anything about himself.

There is nothing to see. The snow is drifting so densely over the North Atlantic that visibility is limited to a few meters. Snuggled passengers in their yellow jackets stand on the deck of this converted fishing boat.

They freeze, some whimper and want to go back to Husavík. It is not clear where the tourists are coming from, they have pulled their hats down too much and made themselves small.

So that the biting wind, the snow, the icy water don’t freeze them even more. They stand there on deck like yellow floats, waiting for the storm to carry them out into the choppy sea.

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And then there is Christian. With red cheeks, bare neck, only a sweater and no gloves, he stands there in this hurricane, which feeds on the weather and the displeasure of the passengers.

He fights, at the top of the ship, and speaks to Despair. After all, here in winter, in the very north of Iceland, people go out to sea to see whales.

“Back there, that bird you can see now, pisses off anyone who tries to approach its nest,” says Christian, wanting to distract from the emptiness and rejection of the ocean. Nobody laughs. Christian already.

The journey is over after four hours, Christian is happy, the passengers are not, some want their money back. But the whale leader only laughs tiredly.

Later he will say it was a nice tour. Although nothing happened, no whale was seen, just snow and stormy seas. “But I like that,” he says. “That’s why I’m here.”

Christian emigrated to Iceland from Germany. This is nothing unusual at first, many people emigrate to the country at the top of the globe.

Most come for the horses, the vast landscape, the relative silence, the long summer days and the grueling winter. Most vacation in Iceland and fall in love with the forbidding landscape and the forbidding people.

“I love whales,” says Christian. And that’s why he’s here.

He is now sitting in a restaurant in Husavik, right by the harbour. Orders fish, he takes off his hat.

His hands have to sting now, it’s so cold outside, but Christian doesn’t show it, instead he talks about whales, the marine mammals that he found fascinating even as a child.

“I actually wanted to be a marine biologist.” A trip to Iceland changed him. A whale tour on the very boat he works on today changed his life. That’s when he knew, more than 10 years ago, that’s what he wanted. Every day. Not just once in a lifetime.

First he came for one season, one summer. Shared an apartment with other students from around the world, went out to sea every day and wowed the passengers. For some a student job, for Christian a vocation.

Thilo Mischke was born in Berlin in 1981. He works as a journalist, author and TV presenter. He has received numerous awards for his journalistic work, for example he won a Bavarian television award in 2020 and was named “Journalist of the Year” in the “National Reportage” category.

“Sometimes I do two shifts,” he says. Two times four hours out at sea and scan the horizon with binoculars. Harbor porpoises, blue whales and sometimes narwhals too.

When Christian talks about his personal motives, he keeps quiet. It’s not easy to find out what moves him, what he feels in this vast country. He doesn’t want to reveal anything about himself.

Maybe it’s because of the proximity to the North Cape, maybe the people here are extreme fish heads, as one would say in Germany. Closed-off but warm-hearted people who adapt to the elements, like the seaweed that often washes up here.

This life, which has a clear structure, differs from life in Europe. Different from the life Christian might have lived in Germany. The tours, the apartment, the guides who are different every year, the tourists who vomit over the railing.

It’s a life Christian wanted. Precise procedures and the great daily adventure, whether a whale shows up, whether the black heads rise out of the water, whether the nostrils, small fountains squirt into the air, whether the mighty fins lift. Christian always carries a camera with him, takes photos as if it were his first trip.

“It doesn’t get boring,” he says. The greatest adventure never gets boring, you have to envy him for that. Ten years of happiness. That’s why he emigrated, what other people are looking for all their lives he had as a child as posters on the wall of his room.

The mighty sea mammals that search for krill in the icy waters and sing their disturbing songs have lured Christian to the north of Iceland. He heard their songs and now sings to the tourists.

If only they would listen and not just stand whimpering on the ship’s deck.