The healthy weed and wildflowers on the bike – the Lofoten Story vol.4.
The Dutch example
On my very first night on Lofoten islands I pitched my tent by a beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere. In the morning I wake up stretching, as I open the zipper of the tent suddenly the sunshine touches my face. A quick swim in the lake, shivering a bit and then warming up slowly.
Followed by a frightened yell.
I was so deeply lost in my thoughts I didn’t recognize that somebody approached me and when he started to talk to me, I jumped so big that the reindeers must have laughed like hell if any reindeers existed on Lofoten except for the sausage form.
The bogy was called Nico, he had started his journey accross Europe from the Netherlands and picked the very same place for having some rest as I did.
It turned out that his backpack was 27 kgs (!) and I was really respectful because mine felt like a sack full of coal with its 12-14 kgs.
After having discussed the practical issues (at that time as a beginner I really appreciated every single piece of advice) he gave me a shiny little verbal present before saying goodbye: ‘Meli, it really is healthy to smoke weed once a week.’
3,000 km on foot
I met Catherine on my second evening spent on Lofoten in the funniest little Norwegian fishing village called Å. This is the very last letter in the alphabet and the village got this name because it’s the last one to the West on Moskenesøya island.
This amazing girl once decided to walk all the way from the Northernmost point of Norway (Nordkapp) to the South. I’ll help you with the numbers, it’s about 2,500-3,000 kms depending on how much she explores meanwhile. On foot. On her own. As a solo woman.
Beyond the obvious fact that it’s a big achievement, it taught me diverse things, first of all that life is exactly as complicated as you make it. Her backpack was lighter then mine, she was walking in XC running shoes; in case it gets wet, well, who cares, it will dry up again. Spare shoes?! Hell no! And if it will be weared out, she just buys another one somewhere. As long as I always carried 1,5 liters of water, she did only 0,5 liters saying sooner or later there must be a spring to drink from. If she momentarily doesn’t smell like rose-water, she doesn’t really care, it’s the side effect of exercise. The only luxury she has it’s occasionally a can of beer.
At that time my biggest fear was the rain so I asked her about what she does when it’s raining. Nothing, she said. I sleep until it stops, no point to get out of the sleeping bag. (I remembered these words a lot later on…)
Since then she must have arrived in Kristiansand reaching her goal. No doubt.
Lack of sport
I was hiking up to Mannen one nice afternoon from where there’s a fabulous view to Hauckland’s white sandy beach on Vestvågøya island. We arrived at the top at the same time with three other woman and their doggy. As being on our own up there, we easily started talking and you know, I couldn’t help realizing how sporty these women were. Well, this is not quite unusual, in Norway almost every woman is an outdoor goddess, but still…
As I’m not shy, with some obvious positive envy in my tone I simply asked them what sport did they do to have these muscles.
‘Well… nothing in particular.’
‘Yes, but come on! You are on the top of a mountain right now…’
‘OK, we do hiking sometimes. And we run, but everybody runs here. In winter we go ice skating and skiing, in summer kayaking. Oh, yes! And we all play in the same football club. We are quite big fans of football, this is why this dog is called Messi.’
I’ll give you time to swallow. This is how the Norwegian chicks don’t do any sports in particular.
It’s been raining for four days and I run out of food. I have two choices: either to stay hungry and wait for the rain to stop or to get to a supermarket somehow (next one is some 15 km away). The latter seems hopeless so obviously I choose that option. OK, I’m gonna go out into the storm and try to hitchhike, I think determined, although near and far there is no cars passing by. I’m waiting. With these circumstances in the middle of nowhere who the hell feels like going for a drive? Touché. I keep waiting. I keep being wet. I keep having cold.
Out of the blue a car is coming. From now on everything is like watching a movie. I put my thumb up, the car stops, they probably feel pity for the woman as wet as a rag. The loveliest two grannies are sitting in the car, we are laughing all the way, because no point to cry. They like my attitude of laughing at the difficulties so much they drop me off right at the door of the supermarket and give me a present of 200 NOK (approx. 20 EUR) so that I can buy something delicious for myself. After five minutes of fighting I finally take the money and I’m the happiest when eating that creamy melon-maracuja yogurt that I’d never touched without the ladies’ gift.
Food: check, but I need to get back to my tent somehow. So I try hitchhiking again, the first car stops again, the chauffeur is a woman in her 50s, but looks like me in my mid 30s. She is so fed up with all the continuous rain that she decides to go hiking anyway. We are talking, laughing, she drives me directly to my tent, although she originally didn’t want to go that way at all. I almost cry. Then we arrive and I present her my home sweet home, the tent is halfway collapsed under the rain, it has a private march under, cold inside. The woman asks me whether I really slept here in the last four nights and when I say smiling that this was the best bastion ever that protected me from rain, wind and cold so I couldn’t be in any better place, she simply offers her home to me. In this moment we know each other for only 20 minutes. So I finally burst out in tears. (Of course, I stay in the tent and I’m rewarded next day with sunshine.)
It’s unbelievable how much help and support I got from the locals. Whenever I needed. Whatever I needed. I’m extremely lucky. I can’t put into words how much I am grateful for all this.
I’m sitting on the top of Festvågtinden (amazing mountain on Austvågøya island), tired enough after a long and almost vertical climb, I enjoy the silence and the beautiful view to the colourful little rorbuer (wooden huts) of Henningsvær. My heart rate slowly goes back to normal, and my puffing is no longer as loud as the people could hear it even from the neighbouring island. I feel the moment, be united with the universe, become empty of stress and full of energy at the same time, so everything happens that usually happens while sitting on the edge of a cliff.
Suddenly a mid-aged company arrive grinning and I can’t help realizing that they are a lot less out of breath than I was on my arrival. I would start to moan about my physical condition when the silence of the nature is interrupted by a well-known voice coming from a phone, saying: ‘Workout completed.’ The situation is so surreal that we all start to laugh like hell, together, like infantile schoolchildren.
ature is free
For those who plan to go to Norway I’d recommend to save up a bit before. You enter a supermarket and escape at once when you take a look on the prices. Once I unsuspectingly sat in a pub (it’s not an excuse, but it was heavy rain outside. I simply had to take shelter) and when the barman told me the pint of beer was almost 10 EUR in krone, I almost gave him the mug back. I drank it but I swear I counted the euros gulped.
Once hitchhiking we were talking about the prices in Norway with a local, the injustice that I’ve been carrying for a while just popped out as I told him:
‘Your country is f.cking expensive.’
‘Yes, that’s true. But nature is free!’
The fairy’s camping
I’ve been eyeballing a cake and some hot tea for hours in a camping, but as these stuff are extremely expensive, I keep sighing. Sometimes a couple draws my attention again to the cakes when entering they immediately get some sweets and tea, spending a fortune. I tend to hate them.
But the weather sucks and I’m so desperate that after a while I tell myself ‘I-don’t-care-how-much-it-costs-I-am-going-to-eat-a-cake-for-god’s-sake!’. I go to the bathroom and returning back I find a beautiful waffle at my table with a nice mug of hot tea. Magic.
So this is Kate. One of the true fairies of our world. She is an always smiling, cheerful and optimist woman so we have a lot in common. We make friends soon. She tells me that where she lives, up north in Finnmark, in winter sometimes there is so much snowfall that the snow blocks not only the doors of the houses, but the windows as well. In this case your only choice is to call your friends to free you.
When we say goodbye finally, she gives me some food for my next hike. It contains sandwiches of ham and salmon and certainly a bit of the famous waffle as well. No need to tell that these kind of goodness I didn’t allow myself to buy so that day, sitting on the top of the mountain, I was the happiest girl on Earth. But when I finally burst out crying was only in the evening when I opened the envelope with the sign ‘Meli ❤️‘. But what I found inside might remain the secret of Kate and me.
Miss Lofoten July
It’s a hot summer day (19 degrees), I take my friend Laura’s bike and dart towards Tjeldbergtind, one of the nicest summits nearby. (I had to double check the name, the Norwegian names are forgotten quickly. This is how I remembered first: Tsendenjergenbörgenbringentinden).
As I don’t meet anybody hiking up, I can enjoy being on my own, climbing the mountain on the least obvious path, deeply lost in my own little world. Up there the view is just amazing, I sit there for a while, living in the moment.
Then once an idea comes to my mind, I see a mental picture of myself being part of this breathtaking nature. I check the paths coming up, as I’m not planning to be on this picture in my trekking clothes, but there is nobody coming. I set the timer of my mum’s little point-and-shoot, take off all my clothes except for the panties, step out to the edge, the wind plays with my hair, I open my arms and put myself in the way of beauty. Aphrodite is a beginner compared with me. And in this very moment a guy OBVIOUSLY starts to be oooing and aaaing from below, a couple of meters away. Like in a shitty movie with quite a predictable screenplay. I try to blend perfectly with the colour of the rocks, but it’s already too late. By the time the guy arrives I take my clothes and we both burst out in laughter. Instead of saying hello he only tells me that it rarely happens to him that after climbing a mountain he is not only rewarded by the nice view, but a(n almost) naked woman as well.
We are talking a bit more and I tell him that I left the bike by the beginning of the footpath, because I missed the way. Then we say goodbye and he leaves.
When arriving to the bicycle another surprise hits me: the guy found it and decorated it nicely with wild flowers. Well… either I have nice butt or this guy haven’t seen a woman very closely for a long time.
(Unfortunately the negative was damaged at a certain point, but nevertheless I uploaded it. Luckily the picture of the bike is still in good condition.)