Every time I go a-wandering, I’m impressed (and a little bit embarassed) about what I don’t know about the world. An Icelandic proverb says, “Keen is the eye of the visitor”…and since good writing leans on good observation, travel often shakes things loose in my brain. Being a writer makes me pay better attention. So (at the risk of having a bunch of people say, “You didn’t know that???”) here are surprises and things that caught my attention.
#1. I like little things.
Doors. Chairs. Ooold things.
The Stavanger airport has smooth wooden floors obviously tromped on by thousands of feet.
#2 The Norwegian alphabet has three more letters than the one I’m used to. I am most charmed by the letter I heard nicknamed “Angel A.” (It’s an “A” with a little halo stuck on top and pronounced like the “o” in bored.) One of the teachers told me about his visit to a town with only that one letter for a name.
#3 Not every city in Norway is cold and snowy during the winter months. Stavanger is usually overcast and rainy. Winter or summer, though, Norwegians get themselves outside. They use snowshoes, skis, or boots to make their way to cabins anyone can share. On the way out, they leave their name and address, their nights of staying in the cabin + any food stock used…and a bill comes in the mail.
#4 I don’t know who these people are in this painting (from the medieval church), but doesn’t it appear that Norwegian ladies a long, long time ago had Bluetooth headsets?
I can’t figure out if this is one couple who had an enormous # of children or a couple with their siblings and a fairly large # of children.
At some point, my curiosity made lead me to dig for answers, but right now the curiosity itself is fun.
#5 A great many Norwegians do church work in either Ethiopia or Madagascar. (My friend who taught Norwegian at UND had spent time in Madagascar, but I didn’t know she was one in a grand stream.) When you’re born in Norway, you have to opt out of being Lutheran.
#6 Freaky fascinating connections are everywhere. The school secretary was in Asmara (then Ethiopia, now Eritrea) at about the same time and at the exact same places where I’ve been, including a hospital. (It wasn’t a church commitment for her but a scuba diving commitment.)
Here she is in the office she shares with trolls. Many trolls.