Sunday, August 30, 2009

Four Blocks in Norway

I have realized on this vacation that I love water. This love runs deeper than just watching rolling waves or water falls. For my mental health and motivation I must submerge myself in water regularly. Ocean, river or pool really doesn't matter, I just need to feel buoyant every few days.

This piece of self knowledge came to me after several days of exploring the Norwegian Fjords on small passenger ships. We disembarked to spend the night at the historic Kivknes' hotel overlooking the Sognefjord. There was no swimming pool, but the desk attendant offered a dip in the Fjord. In the morning I walked down to inspect. The sea water could be entered by descending metal steps covered with algae. Never mind that it was overcast, with only a slip of sun showing, and the water was about 60 degrees. I looked into the beautiful green gray water and felt a primal urge to throw myself in and swim to the dock about 100 feet away. I returned to the hotel for my suit and a towel. I also asked Joe to come with me in case I had heart attack. But by the time we returned thesunlight had retreated and it had begun to rain. I lost the impulse.

I will not even try to describe to you the transcendent beauty of the Norwegian coast. You will just have to come for yourself. I am very fortunate to be sighted and here. So I will not complain. But I will say that traveling for several weeks is not conducive to my training regime. I have been feeling very tired and not very motivated. Fortunately yesterday we took a bus from the fjords to Voss, and there was a hotel with a swimming pool, so today for the first time in weeks I did my four blocks and I feel much more energetic.

I have enjoyed sizing up the Norwegians. Here fat is not an issue. I haven't seen a single fat Norwegian. What is obvious is that these folks are amazingly gritty, fit and big boned. Some have size, but by no stretch of the imagination would I describe them as overweight. This is very inspiring. Our bus driver, Ragnar, was a an archetype -- bearded and ruddy with very strong hands and a broad back, he described the scenery with a minimum of words. We were sitting in the the front seat, so I could see his expression and he was quite pleased with himself as he described his home turf. At one point he pointed to a building and said that it was a small factory -- for smoked sheep's heads. He explained in some detail the process of splitting the heads, and removing the brains, tongue and glands. The many British and Japanese passengers on our bus were stunned into silence, grimacing and holding their stomachs as he confidently maneuvered the large bus around hairpin turns up the mountain. He explained that smoked sheep's head was now a delicacy, although in poorer times it had helped feed the people. " Of course," he said, "you may need to drink a lot of local beer before eating. Some people find it hard to eat with their dinner staring at them. But I think its better than having it talk to you." I couldn't agree more.

When we got to a stop at a local hotel perched above an eye popping waterfall, we were informed the old highway down was closed because of a 2 km race up the road which Ragnar told us climbed at a twenty degree angle. As we pulled into the parking lot he drove the bus up very close to a parked car where a woman in her late thirties or forties, red-faced from running the climb, was changing clothes in the open air. She pulled her singlet off over her head revealing a large -boned, muscular and buxom torso clothed in textured long underwear that stuck to her curves. "This," said Ragnar proudly, " is our mayor, Mary Ann Orland. She is very " His voice turned wistful. Mary Ann smiled at him in a very knowing way, leaving me to conclude that her run had left her with plenty of energy to give the charming Ragnar a roll in the hay.

1 comment:

  1. Gawd, Martha, this is just great! I'm ready to pack my bag and head to Norwary!