June 18, 2012

Iceland to Internship

Iceland was great, really fantastic, I lived hard and had six incredible days clambering over glaciers, hiking over lava fields that reminded me more of the moon than of the earth, watching seabirds swoop in and out of their cliffside homes, soaking in remote hot springs and standing awe-struck at the power of four enormous, thundering waterfalls. I ate whale sushi, sheep's head, and rotten shark, strolled down the city street's of Reykjavik and the line between Europe and America at Thingvellir. Liisa and I put some serious kilometers behind us as we drove our 'too pretty for Iceland' little red rental car from Reykjavik to Hofn, Hofn to Arnarstapi, and back again to Reykjavik.

But the trip didn't seem real until my flight landed in Keflavik, and it faded back out of reality somewhere over the Atlantic.

Suddenly, I was back home.

Loud, smiling, friendly, lovely Americans everywhere.

I could understand everything - it felt invasive.

I was suddenly eating every meal out - the extravagance was almost too much.

The heat is cutting me a break this weekend, it's only in the low 80's, but still it's weird to leave the house with a t-shirt without scarves and jackets tucked into my bag.

Arrival Friday.

Saturday was clean up day, cutting the extra hair off the mountain girl, scrubbing the dirt and callouses off her feet, painting her toenails pretty pretty red, and shopping for clothes that haven't been dragged through heaven and hell and everything in between. The shopping mall - my god. Talk about culture shock.

Sunday I went with Nash, Aunt Rhonda, and Uncle Chris to the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Boats and barbecue and scenery bursting with Americana. Skyscrapers, flags, airshow, military displays, corn on the cob.

More culture shock - moving from impoverished student accomodation to a cushy, luxurious set up at my relatives. The towels and carpets are white and soft. The room is big, dark, quiet. I have my own bathroom and the shower is lovely. The pantry and fridge are full to overflowing. We drive in nice cars from one garage to the other and hardly notice that it's raining.

June 03, 2012

The end in sight

You can't actually spend two solid weeks saying farewell. As the very last days arrive, it's actually getting a bit easier. 

Reluctantly I accepted one last couchsurfer. He was in a tight spot, so I helped him out. We joined Ffinlo and Jens for an acapella concert at Kvarteret, then drinks at KAOS. Next morning, I toured Bryggen one last time and finally made it to the Bryggen museum.

Then I met Lukas and Monika for Vidden. Monika came as far as Ulriken with us, then ran down to cook with friends. As promised, the hike took 8 hours. It was pretty cold up there and sometimes sun, sometimes threatening clouds. But we didn't get wet, and there were a thousand shades of green looking down towards the lake, and new perspectives on all the old familiar places, and at the end we managed to get lost at a place we should have known well by now! And there was a lovely sunset shining through all the cotton-puffy plants whose names I never learned, and we found an old burned down cabin and the ruins of a huge ski slope under the full moon, and walked back along Svartediket.

Slept in late today after all of that! Then we had a Dugnad cleaning of the kitchen with all the suitemates, and got a picture of everyone together! And then I ran downtown to Friday's to see Monica and some of her friends one last time. How funny to eat at Friday's, everything was super American except the Bergen scenery out of the window, the people from this semester, and of course the Norwegian prices! Gave Monica back the movie she lent me, as well as a Florida magnet and postcard and an American flag. We walked back together along the harbour and said goodbye... :)

Now tomorrow morning I leave early for one last trip. Destination: Stavanger. The primary reason I'm going, at least why I'm going now, is to see an old friend from my first trip to Norway! :) But I'll also enjoy seeing the city, might meet up with the couchsurfer again actually, and am planning to do Preikestolen on Tuesday.

Then it's back in town for one last day, I'll meet the cleaning department, do the last bit of packing, some last shopping, give friends photos, and have a nice party on the balcony here at Alrek!

And then, the next day, I have an early afternoon flight, to....

Well, home eventually, but first... one last exciting European destination! ICELAND! A few days stolen from the responsibilities on both ends, and time with one of my best friends. :D

June 01, 2012

The Wild Woman of the Mountains

I'm tempted to pack an empty bottle, my waterproof everything and my sleeping bag into my backpack, go up into the mountains and not come down again.

Sleep when it's dark (those rare three hours).

Walk when it's not.

Enjoy the sun and blue skies and the views over the sea and the islands.

I'll get dark from dirt and sun, and grow a wild beard.

They'll never catch me alive, they'll never make me leave.


It's tempting...

Summer in Bergen

It's been incredible, incredible weather lately. Especially for Bergen. Pretty much two weeks straight with no rain.

No rain, hardly any clouds, and only three hours of darkness a night.

This is becoming a problem.

I'm trying to see everyone again, check those final things off my list, use every minute...

And there are too many minutes.

And I have to force myself to stay home and pack, sleep, rest, do anything except wander around outside until I collapse of exhaustion.

I feel like a moth, drawn to the sun like a flame. Weak as it is here I feel the slight redness on my face when I come home each evening. Always gone by morning, but still.

These last days are killing me.

I will leave a lot of my heart here.

And yet I still find time for a few words, typed here and there, a short blog post.

Because there's a magic in words, in expression, and something beautiful for the future knowing I was here in this wonderful place when I chose these keys from the keyboard and wrote these last things when it was a living description of the present, not yet a memory.

Today was a sort of Rennaisance Festival thing, the Bjørgvin Medieval and Viking Market down south at the Hordamuseet alongside the Fjord. Very low-key but lovely. Cool but sunny. Harps and ocarinas, viking soup and butter with wild garlic, and delicious Israeli hummus (oddly enough). The costumes were simple but nice, and with so few tourists the percentage of people in costume was much higher than at most such events. Cute families, children playing with fake swords and drinking out of little horns. Becky and I learned how to shoot the bows and each got a bulls-eye (out of 6 tries - best not to ask about the other five. ;)) And we listened to the story of Odin's quest for knowledge in a 2,000 year old stone-circle.

Waited a long time for the bus, way out in the sticks and with the strike going on. But it was warm at the stop, and we had a view over lovely green farmland. A tractor driving about kicking up dust and followed by a cloud of seagulls. A father and a sun flying a red kite in the distance.