Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Norway 2/2: Lone Traveling

     Starting from Lindenes I feel that I started enjoying traveling in Norway. Little by little I learnt to take more time in each place, even if I did few kilometres driving each day. With Marie and Ettienne I learnt a little about living in a Kombi, and to amalgamate the time of resting, cooking, wandering and driving. In their case, the timing I set by the children, so it’s very important not to forget the meals, and also to always find playing breaks.

     I went with them all the way to a small city in the mountains with the hope of finding free kayaking or canoeing, according to the advice of a German traveler.  It turned out that to get the free kayak we had to pay for the camping, and it that we both agreed that was not worth it. They were already feeling like going back to their French routine so the next day they went back south to catch the ferry out of Norway. I did a little more to the North in search of a mountain road, and early on I applied what I had learned from my French friends and took a morning off to do a hike up the top of a mountain (a short mountain). And each day I would drive the kilometre I got inspired to do, and stopped wherever I was inspired to. That’s how one night, in the middle of a mountain road, I found a traffic jam. It seamed weird, but all the other cars kept a tidy line and no one was trying to overpass the others, so I figured that that was the right thing to do. In a space at the idea of the road I saw a car parked and I went out to ask if they knew the reason of the line. And they did: the sheep were being brought down from the mountains, where they are grazed in summer, and there were thousands crossing the road. Before having time for second thoughts, I went to where I had already seen another camping car parked, and decided to spend the night.

     On that night, and the following morning, I met a Norwegian family that was partially responsible for those sheep! It turns out that the farmers, during summer, pay someone else to take care for their sheep in the mountains; mountains owned by the state who subsidises this activity to maintain the fields’ grass. And maybe is because fate does exists, because talking about what I could do on my trip they made me noticed that one of the places I wanted to go to, Kjerakbolten, had been left behind by about 50 kilometres! I didn’t hesitated more and went back, also keeping an eye that I would have sun two days in a row, and ugly rains the following two.

     I got to the parking lot and the first thing the guardian did was taking a picture of me!!! Awesome! And when I jokingly tried to tell him that the price was to put it up on Facebook, he told me that I could park free! I didn’t even know I had to pay, and I was already getting a gift. I did the walk afternoon, with just the right amount of time, which turned out to be not that just, and came back walking with a girl. This girl, who had done a quick getaway with her friend from Poland, introduced me to their host from CS (long live chance encounters) and his friend, who later offered to pay me that night’s shower (that since after I found a couple a couple of extra token, so it was me who ended up inviting him a shower). Going down to the town of Lysebotn was not as terrible as I thought… The next day I had to go up that road, and that was terrible, and it was because those simple 6 kilometres took me 40 minutes to climb!

     That day was the second one I had before rain arrived, so I step on the pedal and went straight to climb to Preikestolen (Pulpit’s Rock). This is I think the most typical photo of Norway, and rightly so, since on top of being an amazing place, is of the Top 3 the one with the easiest access. Not only because the path was improved by Sherpas from Nepal, but also because it is the shortest one. The spot is impressive, the view spectacular, and the vertigo that you get when standing in an outing with a 600 meters freefall leaves you stiff as a rock. Luckily I had arranged with a Couchsurfer where to sleep and I stayed to rest for 3 nights. One of those nights I slept in the kombi, so as to leave the room to a Neozeland-HungariGerman couple with who I would meet again later on.

     Norway is spectacular. In every corner you find something that blows you away, without being able to explain what you see. And on top of that it adds the people that live here, that although the Norwegian love their privacy and space, they are super nice and caring. And you also have the foreigners that live here, like the family that hosted me in Ulda at the last minute. Her Polish, him English, and the kids trilingual. They shared their home for a short stay, with a short walk included. From there I left to meet with my friends, who would formally initiate in Dumpster Diving. And they did it that same night, 5 minutes away from where I picked them on the road. THANK YOU! It was just what I needed to learn to push me to travel living as I like to live traveling.

     I shared my trip with Shirkan and Marcus for a couple of days, mostly because they really wanted to go around in a Kombi. So we found a pace to sleep that night, and the next day we made some hiking to an impressive glacier. From there we came back down to Odda and did a little of Dumpstering in the local supermarket. While I was there, head in the trash, a French dude came to say hi and told me he had a Combi too (the French call it Combi, with a “c”). He went on to look for his friends, and I kept colleting fruit from the garbage, on which we would then spend an hour cleaning with Shirkan and Marcus. Without being very certain, we risked a sleeping spot which ended up being perfect. We met again other travellers who we had met in the glacier, and between laziness and the pretty day we spent from morning to afternoon without doing anything productive. My two friends left with these other travelers, taking advantage of a ride in their direction, and I left to park at the beginning of the trail to Trolltunga.

     People estimate between 10 and 12 hours for the round trip, so I woke up early. At 9 a.m. And took my breakfast with no mate, because I was in a hurry, but I did prepare my backpack with all my patience. It took me less than 4 hours to get to the “Tongue”, and it is an impressive as one can imagine. After a brief lunch and the compulsory photos, I wanted to walk a little more and continue the path to another Preikestolen showed on the map. I believe I will never know if I found it, since as other hikers that were in the precise spot showed, there was no way of knowing if that point was called that. What is certain, the extra walk was well worth it because every new angle of those impressive fjords is worth it. The walk down was slower, with the company of some guys with whom I started taking while we walked and with whom I decide to keep talking all the way down.

     The next day I left to Bergen. It wasn’t a much the way, but I still didn’t make it. I had a mechanical problem, inside a bridge of about 12 kilometres, so I panicked and called for help. BIGGEST MISTAKE. Me thinking that maybe since it’s a toll road maybe light mechanics was included… and not, it has to be paid when the help comes, and I’s expensive. And it hurts worse when the problem discovered is the basic of the basics in the engine: the platinum regulation. I blame the tunnel and the panic.

     The traveling continued, I did make it to Bergen eventually (after a second break down almost exactly at the same spot in the same tunnel) and spend a few days there fixing my camera and enjoying a comfy house.

More stories to come; and this only gets better!


See you around the World! And, please, don’t forget to be Happy! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Norway 1/2: the firsts days towards Lindesnes Fyr

     Norway it’s the first trip as organized that I remember in a very long time. I have a clear objective that I want to get to, a route previously traced (which suffer modifications, clearly), I find out about the places to stop and I make myself a tour for each day. So, it seems I am growing up.

     It was the same person that taught me that Norway was not in the European Union, and that therefore I could escape my 6 months coming here before Russia, the same that explained the existence of Nordkapp and planted the seed of the idea of getting there. The idea of seeing the extreme points of the places is something I think about ever since the United Kingdom, but that one of those point happens to be the most extreme (north in this case) of the European continent, and that it is inside the Arctic Circle, that gives it a much greater adventurous taste!


     Anyway, before going to the furthest north I had to go to the furthest south. And towards there I left, towards the Lindesnes Lighthouse, the southernmost point in Norway. For my first stop I had been told about a “Land’s End”, Verdens Ende, and since I have a special I-don’t-know-what for endings of the worlds, I was very attracted. I am still doubting why the name, taking into account it is not an extreme point nor I see the Norwegians messing up thinking that’s where the world ended… it does has the “look” of a Finisterre, that it has.






    Coming out of that group of island, when I stopped to find in my map what I was looking for, it stopped next to me a pickup truck to offer its help, believing I was having mechanical trouble (weeks later I would discover that it was a rare thing; that people stopped… the mechanical troubles are not rare). After a brief talk through our windows, we got out of the vehicles to keep on talking. And beside some great gifts, he gave me great tips on the roads to take further up north. And even the place to sleep that same night. Risør turned up an excellent stop before stepping on the pedal and making it to the Fyr; a little town where I was able to relax for two nights, and stroll around doing tourism as I really needed to.






     The place for Lindesnes Lighthouse is simple and concise, with some nice marked trails and an old lighthouse that keeps getting its job done of saving boats from the danger of the rocky coastline. In that place I met with my firsts travel mates, a French couple that were in Herräng and that had already told me they were heading to Norway after the dances.





      With Etienne and Anne Marie, them in a VW T3 with their two kid, I shared the next few days of traveling that would teach me how to travel. Clearly, I am growing up.

THERE WE GO

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dance and Magic in Herräng

     The Herräng Dance Camp was a magical experience. And without using that term lightly, I believe to have lived truly magical moment in that place where I lived 7 weeks in community with so many people wit on common love: the dance.

     The magic started at the beginning of the year, when in Nico’s house we were celebrating the new year with a blues party. Randomly talking to the people present it came up in the conversation that I was thinking on going to Europe and someone told me about a dance festival or camp in Sweden. I asked, enquired and as soon as I could I applied for a job. It had to be done at the beginning of the year, but the process was delayed by complications and changes. Finally I did the formal application when I was already in New York on my way to Europe, in mid-February, and as the answer was taking a long time in coming I started to imagine other roads.

     Late but safe I was confirmed for the position, for 3 of the 7 weeks which I could work. I was also thinking about taking classes a couple of weeks, and it’s not allowed to do both things at the same time, so it seemed I was going to have 2 weeks with nothing to do. Easily manageable. I ended up working the 7 weeks in different places, without taking any classes, just living camp’s life.

GETTING PEOPLES AND THINGS ON THE KOMBI

     I also planned the getting there so as to share the expenses, I arranged with other dancers to take them from Stockholm or from the airport (I even picked up Jenny’s bag since she wanted to bike her way there), and we took some magic into Herräng in the form of candy recuperated from some supermarket’s dumpster.

DUMPSTER DIVING BEFORE ARRIVING (FROM HERE CANDIES WOULD COME)

THE FIRST SIGN WITH OUR DESTINATION... LET'S GO!

WE MADE IT!
(THAT GRASS WAS CUT SHORTLY AFTER THIS PICTURE)
     Without knowing where I had arrived, how the Camp worked exactly, where did things go and what was going to happen when it started, the first week of work, the “Set Up” week, would be the preparation and construction of all that was needed. From the big tents where classes would be given, where I spend most of my time, up to the preparation of the places that during the years are used for something else (like the School or the Library) and which would be used to accommodations or dancing. Intense work, always in a good mood, with lots of crossed jokes, and all of that immerse in the wonderful mixture of cultures that comes to be in a place with people from different countries with one common passion.

THE FIRT MEAL IN HERRÄNG

AND ONE OF THE FIRSTS NIGHTS IN HERRÄNG :p

IN THE LINE FOR MEALS INSUSUAL THINGS HAPPEN...
... LIKE MASSAGES OR FEEDING PEOPLES NACHOS WITH SALSA

     The five weeks that followed, in which the Dance Camp functions as such, there is a daily routine that envelopes everything, and however for those of us who lived and worked there each day was different. The schedules may be more or less similar (in Limo for example no day is the same as the other, and one finds out the night before; in Hell’s Kitchen the schedule is the same every day, but the people coming to eat doesn’t show up at the same time nor they feel the same every day; and not mentioning positions that serve the general public and that play lottery every day).

IN RECEPTION YOU CAN BE SERENATED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

IN LIMO YOU CAN GO TO AN EXCURSION TO A DREAMY ICE CREAM SHOP

     What you always have is party, dance, swing… and more things. And what I enjoyed the most personally was the company. The friends, laying back some place, with a drink or without, talking, listening to music, watching a movie, dancing, going dancing, playing some game, or any other thing you can imagine.

I TOOK A PICTURE, AND I GOT A SOLO
OR IN ANOTHER PHOTO, I WAS REJOICED WITH A SMILE


EVEN AS A HOT DOG YOU GET ASKED TO DANCE BY THE PRETTY ONES! 

THE COMMUNITY HOUSE (OR FOLKETS HUS) WHERE MUCH OF THE MAGIC HAPPENS


AND WHEN THE MADNESS IN PEOPLE GENERATES A SPONTANEUS PARTY

WITH SO MANY BEAUTIFUL CRAZY ON THE SCENE!

     In the last week the work consisted on taking down everything we had put up and putting every thing back in its place. More importantly, that week was the week of goodbyes. Everyone that was there had known each other, in the vast majority, for some weeks. Some had been together all of the 7 weeks. And although some of us were rookies, other had been in Herräng already several times, so the friendships were even older… And we all left. The bubble burst for all of us and we all had to move on. Some went back to their lives and routines, other kept on traveling to some new destination, other travelled to their new job, and we will all remember those weeks in which we had the opportunity of getting away from everyday problems and wrap ourselves in a blanket of magic and dance.

EVEN THE FROGS ARE TAKEN CARE

AND WE RECEIVE THE PRETTIEST GIFTS BY THE BEACH

And some may be as lucky as to go back.


FOR THE GOODBYE, WE HAD A TEA WITH JENNY IN THE NEW GARDEN OF THE HOUSE


¡THANK YOU CARO FOR THE PHOTOS!
IF YOU LIKED THEM, SEE MORE IN https://500px.com/carolinacomposto


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

From Paris to Switzerland in Kombi, back to nomadism

FIRST PICNIC ON THE ROAD, FIRST SELF-PORTRAIT

FIRST MORNING, FIRSTS MATES
     Getting back on the road was a renovating experience. Since the trip back from Lima, except a detour to Uruguay and a quick escape to Rosario, with the Kombi I hadn´t gone out strolling in my terms. With this I mean traveling slow and steady. Even the trip from Peru to Argentina was in a hurry to get to a wedding I never showed up. After Causita’s boat trip, the closest I did of strolling was going from Bremerhaven to Paris, which was 1000 kilometers in 10 days, but always with the rush of arriving for a set date.


FROM THE BEGINNING, "FAMILY" ENCOUNTERS
     After the family holidays in Cyprus and Egypt, I was a month and a half in my cousin Moni's house in Paris preparing and putting together the interior of the Causita, the living quarters (which is explained in another article). And when everything was ready, every furniture build and all my things in their place, I left Paris.





FRIENDS AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD
     The first 3 days where a test in the road. I did 450 km up to Lyon, where I found myself again among family, my cousin’s Sonia. There I stayed some 5 days enjoying the good company and family love.

MORE OR LESS THIS IS HOW I WANT TO USE THE ROOF

POSTCARDS FROM LYON 1
POSTCARDS FROM LYON 2


POSTCARDS FROM LYON 3

     It was then, on the Friday I left Lyon, that I really felt going back to traveling. I was getting back on the road. I was facing again the nomadic life that has got me captivated for 5 years. And I felt that it wasn’t until that day that I was doing it on Kombi, and that up to then Causita had just been a vehicle for traveling, and not a moving home. That day it became definitely my home, in which I shall live the next days, months or years.


It was like so that I was again traveling at 60 km per hour.



POSTCARDS FROM GENEVA 1

POSTCARDS FROM GENEVA 2


     I slept one night in the last French town before entering Switzerland, I spent two days CouchSurfing in Geneva before leaving towards the area of Gruyere (in the search for the cheese). From there, following the recommendation of a Swiss couple I met one night I headed over the Jaunpass, a mountain pass 1500 meters high over the sea level, on my road to Interlaken. Already before arriving up there I was hearing an ugly noise, that had me riving nervous and stopping every now and then; but I couldn’t really stop, since without a mechanic’s ear I wasn’t going to be able to do much. I kept going down from the pass until the noise became unbearable, not for its loudness but for its constancy; and I stopped in a garage. They looked at my Kombi van and didn’t even want to talk too much, they derive me to the next town where I would find myself with a garage specialized in VolksWagen (classics like Kombis and T3, and moderns too).



TO THE JAUNPASS

CAUSITA IN THE SNOW!

GOING DOWN
     Today it is over a week I am in the town of Latterbach, to which I got hearing the noise of a broken ball bearing and Manfred Balmer received me with open arms. After a drive around the block, he told me we would leave it at the garage and repaired it the next morning. Then he introduced me to his family at her daughter’s house, who from the first idea of sharing dinner that night, invited me to stay as a guest in their house.

LATTERBACH, NOT BAD FOR COMPULSORY STOPPING

     Freddy is helping me in repairing all those things in Causita’s mechanic that make her roll, and all those things that if broken would bring an unexpected end to traveling.

THE NEXT MORNING


From the Swiss Alps, the area of Berner Oberland, surrounded by loving people.
My regards to you all and thanks for sharing with me.

Don’t forget to be Happy!