From Lapland to Anatolia, 4/7 : going north

Montagne sur Gimsoy, île des Lofoten.

This article is the english version of « De la Laponie à l’Anatolie, 4/7 : nord ».
Cet article est la version anglaise de « De la Laponie à l’Anatolie, 4/7 : nord ».

Bergen welcomes me with a tempest of snow. According to the people around me, it’s quite exceptionnal, Bergen is very well known for its rain, not for its snow. I feel very good and i head to Noémi’s house, a french girl whom acceptes to host me one or two nights, member of Couchsurfing. I have a good time here, and from the top of the hills around, the view is impressive.

I then leave the city, hitchhicking to the north. At first i’m bored and cold, and i have to wait a long time for a car to stop. But suddently all is fine. Cars stop easily and i jump from fery to fery, asking onboard if someone wants to give me a lift to the next place. This is the land of the fjords, and despite the cold and the very short days, i sleep outside a few times, only to appreciate the view, the fresh air and the magnificent sky. It works great, and one week later, i’m in Trondheim. There, i meet Noemi again, with two other students, from Spain. Together, we go by bus out of town and then walk more than two hours into the snow, in order to reach a small wooden cabin next to a frozen lake. The place is magically perfect ! No water, no electricity, no sound from civilisation. We meet more students, all from Erasmus program, from Corea to Portugal : Woo Seung Lee, Jajin Lee, Jeroen, Antones, Adrian, Emiel, Sam… This cabin is for students only, but i’m their guest. We plan to stay one night and then leave, but i ask if i can stay more. As long as nobody is coming, i can stay. I just have to lock the door when leaving. Great ! I need to cut dead wood and boil snow with the hoven in order to drink, and i cook potatoes with cheese. I’m the only one here now. I have a Chrismas party with three curious mice running around. I play with tree trunks on the frozen lake, i try to dig a hole to fish but fail to catch anything, i walk, learn some poems and enjoy every minutes, until i start to feel bored, so i leave, after eight nights and days, all alone. A wonderful experiment.

Back to Trondheim, it’s time for my present : i buy a ticket to the Hurtigruten, a boat going all the way from south Norway to Russia. I only travel for 25 hours, to Lofoten Islands. On our way, we cross the Artic Circle, and i see my last sunset for several « days ». Between two fjords, by night, the moon is hidding behind a mountain, the clouds are slowly moving, and someone is playing saxophone ! It’s perfect, but it becomes even more superb now, when a green light starts to peint the sky : my first norden light, aurora borealis.

In Bodo, just before Lofoten, i meet Ashild, a woman to whom i ask my way on a street. She doesn’t want me to sleep outside, but she cannot host me tonight : it’s 31st of december and she has a big party. She calls her daughter Aurora (!) and they insist to give me something : they offer me a night in the youth hostel. I humbly accept, but there is more. I go with her to meet the father and the brother, and 2000 other persons ! They gather on the street with long candles, and i join them. There is a speech from the mayor and a nice little firework. It’s 2013 now, and i go to sleep in a warm bed, thanks you Ashild. In the bedroom i meet Alan, a chinese guy, and we go together by boat to the island before we separate.

I start to walk, it’s night, i see almost nothing and i don’t know where i want to go, so i just go step by step. After three nights i ask someone some water, because everything is frozen and it’s difficult to find something to drink. The woman offers me to sleep in a small cabin, and brings me some food. The next day i cut some wood to thank Ingrid, and her young daughter Var. I explain my will : i’d like to stay a couple of weeks somewhere, in a farm or anywhere. She says she cannot help but she can call some friends.

I continue my journey across Lofoten and the weather starts to be very bad, raining all day and night. I ask for a shelter in a garage, and the guy tells me something about a cluster not far away. Why not… I go, and meet a polish monk unable to speak english nor french, and i don’t speak polish nor norvegian. He accepts to host me one night but i have to pay some money. Because of the weather i accept, and i end into a small monkish bedroom, but at least it’s warm and dry. The next day, a new guy is here. He is from Rwanda and can speak english and french. So i talk with the polish monk with this rwanda guy in a cluster in Norway. When he understands my travel, he hosts me for free and for three nights, but then i have to leave. Great !

The last day, someone calls me. My phone alsmost never rings. It’s Ingrid. There is a golf club on Gimsoya Island and they may need some help with the farm part of the installation, for a few days. Nice !

Welcome to Hov. Frode and Lene a couple around my age, and Ummi and Inge mother and step father of Frode, live here. There is the golf part, more or less inactive now in winter, and the farm part with horses. The animals always need food, cleaning, and other stuffs. But my job is not to take care of them, my job is to destroy walls and floors ! Before horses, they had cows. So i have to destroy all the cows installtion to build something more adapted for the horses. My tools : a sledge hammer, a shovel, and a small carriage. Let’s do it !

I love this place. I’m mostly alone all day long, and Frode or Lene sometimes come to talk or give me new instructions, a little by little, we build links. I start to take care of the horses, walk with them or even ride, and days after days, they invite me to stay « one more week ». Winter is here, with snow, cold, wind and night : the sun is gone, and won’t be back before almost three weeks. After a while, i count the days because i lose sense of time. 69. Sixty nine days !? From january the 9th to march the 17th. OK, let’s move now.

I go more north, until i reach Tromso. In this city i meet my first Esperanto family. I was a bit nervous because i didn’t know if i will be able to understand, as i learn Zamenhof’s language only with books and internet. But it was really great, and i manage to understand very well. The father is french, mother russian, girl is norvegian. They speak esperanto everyday at home, so the girl’s first language is esperanto, then norvegian, then english, french and russian, and she is learning spanish and german at school ! She is only 13 years old… According to them, there is absolutly no logical reason not to learn esperanto, it’s easy, fun like a puzzle game, effective and fair for all, so they believe it’s about fear, stupidity, politics and economics… I’ll write an article specifically about esperanto later.

I cannot really go further north becuse of the weather, but i don’t really care about « North Cap », mostly a place for tourists, with concrete, hotel and expensive tea. I meet a guy with Couchsurfing and an other one on the street, i noticed him on the boat before. He looks like « me », 10 years younger. I say hi, and he is french. Auguste is going to Kautokeino, in the middle of « Lapland », where there is the annual Samii Festival. He is volunteer and maybe i can come too. I send an email to the director but i got no answer, so i go anyway. I meet Auguste again here, and i just say « hello, i’m a volunteer » to someone i see from the staff. OK, now i’m a volunteer and i got my ticket. We will spend several days here with some young students between 18 and 21 years old. We have a lot of fun together ! I also meet the A-Team : Adèle, Aliona, Adam and Auguste. After the festival, i spend more time around, and create links with people from Juhls, the first and only silver workshop in norvegian Lapland. The place is hand made, and dedicated to nomadics people all around the world. Ann-Sophie, Kaiza and Meri host me one more week. I enjoy my time, walk around, i go sleep into a hole in the snow when it’s -28°C, and it’s time for my birthday. I spend some good time with Ann-Sophie and Ann-Irene, and i eat a cookie with a match on it as a birthday cake.

Then i start to get bored of winter time.

Time to go south. I hitchhick to Finland and i really feel empty now, really bored, i just want to walk again and see something else, so i just skip Finland and jump into a train then a small boat, to Tallin, to Estonia. Here it’s winter, but spring is fighting strongly.

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