Synnøve Nilsen, Reine i Lofoten, august 16th 2012
It’s half past nine, I have hitchhiked 300km. Inside my belly lies the best fish soup I’ve ever eaten and before my eyes is the sight that struck me the most last time I was traveling in the Lofoten: Reine. It is a typical fisherman village in the Lofoten archipelago which used to be famous for its fishing industry. Now it is mostly touristic. No wonder why it has become such an attractive destination: it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains, has its feet in crystal clear water, is ornamented with beautiful wooden cabins and the air has a unique kind of freshness.
Walking in this small village at night to get shelter is something completely different from doing the same thing in the crowded streets of Berlin. There’s practically no one in the streets so I have to knock on completely random doors. In bigger cities I would walk around, looking at people and asking those I think would agree to host me (men alone, couples, groups of friends, people who don’t seem to be in a hurry, not girls…). As I walk here, I notice an elderly couple sitting on a balcony. They sit almost perfectly still, not talking to each other as if they have been so for ever. I pull out my best smile and ask if I can sleep in their house for a night. Of course they are surprised, so in the small amount of time it takes them to understand my request, I elaborate on who I am and why I am here. I’ve been taking pictures at a wedding in northern Norway, and since I have a few days until my next assignment I have decided to hitchhike through Lofoten on my way back to Oslo. I have a sleeping bag and all I need is a roof for the night. Still not moving, they refuse. I’m walking further in the village when I see an uplit living room with some movement inside. The woman who opens up her door quickly sends me to her neighbor: “-she will probably say yes”.
It didn’t take long before Synnøve came with waffles and a big glass of milk. Soon she would also run up the stairs to tidy my bed. It’s strange to talk to someone who was born at a time there was no cars, no electricity, no radio. I feel like I was born just a few days ago and I’m fascinated by this beautiful old woman who has accepted to be in my company tonight. She is going to turn 90 in a month, has 13 great- and great-great children, and has been living in the area for ever. When I ask her how she feels about modern days she answers that she feels it’s not as safe as it used to be. More people are raped, killed and carry guns. I acknowledge and kinda enjoy the paradox that lies between these words and her acceptance to host me. Her health is good, she has access to everything she needs, and a lot of people visit her so she’s pretty happy.
We talk until half past twelve, and when I go to bed I lay there, wondering if it’s her happiness that made her host me. And all these people who have given me lifts today and in the past six years, they’re all so different! What do they have in common? Why is it so easy to hitchhike and to get people to host me this way? I haven’t found an answer but I struggle to find sleep, this is way too good, interesting, fun, and exciting.
I have butterflies in my stomach and they are not about to fall asleep. Tomorrow I’m going to climb a mountain, and hitchhike further south.