Lofoten a.k.a. the best five weeks of my life vol.1. – The beginning

(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)

The night before leaving for Lofoten, 11.40pm, frustrated packing.
(sorry for the 18+ expressions, I only wrote them down for the authenticity’s sake, it’s not typical in my blog)
‘Who the f.uck had this shitty idea of traveling to Norway?! I don’t have enough space in my backpack, no idea what to leave behind, had already reduced my stuff to the minimum. I can’t get any sleep, emergency plans and worst case scenarios are dancing with each other in my head. Light panic. The night before a big journey always sucks.’

I compact, pack and re-pack. I pull every single item off of my backpack, just to put it back according to another system which doesn’t work either.
My only chance is to leave some stuff at home. A down feather jacket, two pair of socks (every gram counts), my running clothes and my camera.
I’m gonna give you time to swallow this.
My camera.
A photographer goes beyond the Arctic Circle without her camera…
It’s like traveling without my left arm.
But I have no other choice, my backpack is full with more important things, and already too heavy – I’d need a crane to lift it up on my back. No way that I could carry 3 more kilos. So I text my Mum in dismay if she can borrow me her little point-and-shoot camera. And whine.

At some point, somewhat at around the end of my trip I realize though, that in my most important moments I never have my camera on me. As the people’s photographer, I capture others’ best moments, but the milestones of my life burn into my retina instead of the sensor of my camera. When my friend Attila gets that I didn’t bring my gear to the journey of my life, he unabashedly bursts out in laughter and suggests me to watch the movie ‘The secret life of Walter Mitty’. If you saw it, no need to say anything but two words: snow leopard. And if you haven’t seen it so far, you definitely should. I even couldn’t help choosing one song from the OST collection to make this post complete.

But back to Day Zero again. I think for most of us the excitement of the last hours before a big journey is a kind of Achilles. I could draw a parallel with the dentist’s chair: you are still waiting outside, pretending you are not afraid like hell, but every time the bur screams you also scream inside. Then sitting in the chair solves everything, it’s all the same, you are willing to bear any kind of anguish to stop the pain. And when it’s gone, the sun starts to shine again. Same with the traveling, it’s always bright. But before that, it’s a mere horror.

When the nose gear leaves the concrete, your heartbeat slows down and the adventure begins. No way back. And this is the best of all.
Only that this time the best part begins way before the nose gear leaves the concrete. A Norwegian couple’s sitting beside me and they seem to kill time chatting with me. I usually think twice to join when there is nowhere to run if something goes wrong (and on a plane you can hardly find shelter), but Arnfinn and Rigmor are both so nice that we are in the middle of a conversation before even noticing we had started it. So I get to know a couple of things about an ordinary Norwegian family, first of all, it’s big. Arnfinn and Rigmor has 5-5 siblings and they have 5 children also and I’m sure all their fingers wouldn’t be enough to count the number of grandchildren. Including toes. Arnfinn sums it all up in one sentence: ‘We are not rich, but rich in children.’

At this point I already feel that I’ll love the Norwegians and this feeling just deepens when it comes to my trip and it turns out that I travel with a tent, sleeping bag, hitchhiking, in a nomadic style, beyond the Arctic Circle. And when Arnfinn asks me if I know where should I spend that night and I just shake my head smiling, she shows me a word in the Norwegian-English dictionary, which is said to describe me. ‘tøff’. Tough. I admit this warms my soul because at that very moment my own mirror shows a scared bunny instead of a tough woman.
Before landing they give me their address so that they can host me when I’m in Norway next time (we know each other for two hours. Net.) then we say goodbye.

And I’m happy knowing exactly that a journey which begins like this can only be a memorable one. And when at the airport in Oslo the first thing I see is a picture of the famous Norwegian explorer, Thor Heyerdal, I just can’t help smiling on the parallelism.

(Find the second chapter here.)


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