UNSTAD, LOFOTEN ISLANDS; NORWAY
Awake at eleven in the morning feeling rough, not remembering where I am. Prepared a breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, celery, cherry tomatoes, cheese and coffee. There are young and old Norwegian couples in the community kitchen eating granola, yogurt and cheese.
After eating and doing my dishes I rode one of the camp's bicycles down the gravel road to the beach. The road winds through the small village. The village sits in a valley facing the sea, enclosed by tall, green mountains. There are no businesses here besides two competing surf shops which each offer equipment to purchase as well as lessons and rentals. There is Unstad Arctic Surf Camp where I am staying at the back end of the valley, and Lofoten Surfsenter, which is located near where the road dog legs toward the beach. The remainder of the village is made up of cottages for people, and barns for sheep to take respite in the winter.
The houses dead end into a wildflower field that no one walks through above the crescent shaped beach. Across from the field and close to the base of the mountains to the south is a fenced grave yard and a very small white chapel. The grave stones are polished and modern. They look out of place. After surveying the graveyard a little I rode to the beach to check the surf. It was nearly flat. One person was trying to surf. I rode back to the camp.
After returning the bicycle to the hitching post I walked towards reception to inquire about a bus to Henningsvær. Zach Canfield wants me to come meet him and his girlfriend there for hiking. On the way into the Cafe where reception is located an attractive young woman with red hair and flushed cheeks says something to me in Norwegian. I tell her apologetically that I only speak English. She replies "it's a cool bike" and asks me if I work here. I tell her I do not. She says she has come to surf and asks me if there waves. I tell her "no not now, but perhaps later." She says "we're camping here for the night." Her posture is measured. She looks me in the eye while speaking shyly. I am conscious of not lingering too long. We stand facing each other in the doorway. She tells me her name is Kaya. I tell her my name, and its good to meet you, and make my way to reception.
Maud tells me Henningsvær is an hour's drive but to get there without a car would be quite time consuming as the bus rarely goes. I would have to hitch. I'm feeling tired and dim, and decide that although it would be good to see Zach, I'd rather remain where I am. So I went into the community room for a while to write. There I meet an employee of the camp. She tells me her name is Laora. She is slight and youthful, with brown hair, elf ears, and a charming gap in her top two front teeth. She welcomes me to the camp.
After meeting Laora I write for a while, and then decide to go for a walk. I walk towards the sea, and out of the village. I find a trail through a pine forest and into a meadow. From there the trail runs along side a stream that falls from a cold lake closer to the top of the mountain. I pass a flock of sheep and say "Don't worry, I'm not here to eat you." They don't seem concerned. I cross the stream and reach the lake walking a long the tops of tussocks and mossy boulders.
On the way back down to the valley the clouds begin to part, and as the the sunlight fills the valley I begin to realize how remarkably I beautiful this place is. I take lots of photographs all a long the way and return back to camp hungry, and in a good mood. I have a dinner of celery, bread, cheese, canned mackerel and a square of chocolate. Then I take I bike ride up to the trailhead that leads a long the ocean to the town of Eggum to the north. After biking I have a shower and go to the sauna. There is a Norwegian couple in there. They are kind and welcoming. The man tells me of his business importing audio visual technology to Norway. He is scruffy and relaxed. The woman is extremely fit. She sits opposite myself and her husband, sharp eyed and smiling. The conversation turns to the reasons for my travels and to the political climate in the United States presently. I don't have any good answers for my sauna friends on the true nature of my purpose in traveling nor the cause of what's happening in America. I very much enjoy the talk though. As we conclude and prepare to retire to our respective cabins, the woman says to me "You made a good decision to be away right now."
I go to the showers and rinse off and then head back to the cabin to try and sleep. A light rain is falling. The sky is gray and glowing from the sun circling just above the craggy black mountain tops. It's 1 AM.