Quite by accident I heard of the possibility to test my fruit preserves in a foreign market. So I immediately and doggedly pursued gathering as much information as I could. I quickly learned that V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christiansen was leading a trade mission to Aarhus, Denmark over the Memorial Day weekend.
As far-fetched as my participation seemed at the time, I embarked on a mission of my own, to become a part of the project. So it was off to the races to raise funds and prep as much fruit as I could, after applying to be a part of the mission in early April.
I also learned that the backdrop of the trip would be a Caribbean Festival featuring the Virgin Islands at its centerpiece. Well, this was the most perfect event within which to test the viability of my Virgin Islands Fruit Preserves (VIFP) on Danish taste buds.
Several weeks of twists and turns and fits and starts finally led to my acceptance in early May at an ironic time in my life – on the evening of the day I learned of the passing of my beloved Mum, Lucille Archibald, in T&T.
Undeterred in pursuing my goal I pushed my multitasking skills to the limit, just as she would have expected me to do. Returning to St. Thomas left me less than a week to complete my preparation of products, including ensuring that all my product labels were translated into Danish. So on May 28 a rather exhausting but exciting journey began from St. Thomas to San Juan to New York to Copenhagen and finally, after a mere 15 hours, an arrival in Aarhus, Denmark.
For the duration of my visit I had great company from two new friends whom I met first on Facebook. Here’s how I got the ultimate hook-up. My very dear friend, Rosary Harper who had traveled on many occasions to Denmark when her late brother, Ves, and his wife, Nese, lived in Copenhagen, introduced me to their friend, Victoria Lind.
However, since Victoria was not going to be able to come to the festival in Aarhus, she introduced me to her friends, Annemarie and Verner Thomsen on Facebook. They turned out to be my angels.
These very special people took care of me the whole time I was in Aarhus from the evening of my arrival to the morning of my departure for home. And they were also great tour guides. There is nothing more special than seeing a new place through the eyes of those who live there.
On Monday afternoon, after the official public opening of the festival, Aarhus mayor Nicolai Wammen led delegate Christiansen and a small group of tag-alongs to the brand new museum, which opened the day before our arrival. Named for the original name of the town, ARoS, is a very modern structure which features a rainbow walkway atop its majestic edifice, which allows a 360-degree view of the very ancient city below.
Quite a juxtaposition! The five floors of exhibits is home to some of the greatest works of art in Northern Europe.
Later that evening Mayor Wammen hosted a private reception for the V.I. contingent at the Town Hall. The group included Charlita Schuster’s dance group Music in Motion International, who were experiencing their first foreign travel, along with veteran V.I. ambassadors, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, vocalist, Doc Petersen and steel pan player Bill Bass.
During the brief program, which preceded an informal buffet dinner, the mayor and Delegate Christiansen exchanged gifts. Stanley “Jacobsen” (inside joke) and his knights presented Wammen and festival organizers, including Claus Bech and Christian Morell, with prized bottles of Cruzan rum. VIFP presented the mayor with a gift package of fruit preserves. The mayor also had gifts of appreciation for the dancers of Music in Motion International.
One of the evening’s highlights was the performance of a specially composed song by a Danish song writer, entitled, “Healing the History.” This very moving piece spoke to the deep and sometimes painful ties between the territory and Denmark. It was suggested that this could become the theme for the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day in 2017.
By the end of my journey in Denmark, I came to have a better understanding and appreciation of how profound the links are between Danes and Virgin Islanders.