I loved every second of it. I was quiet happy and excited about going alone somewhere and spending time by myself. I got to Oslo late at night because our funny flight was delayed. Funny it was because drunken russian girls (who else?!) would smoke in the toilet and disturb everyone around, making me feel embarrassed to be russian, as always. Lucky my couch surfer was nice enough to meet me even late at night, even knowing that I am going away the next morning and share his lovely couch. Martin was his name. Thank you Martin!
The next day, a short walk to the train station and I am on the train heading towards Eina, where the farm that I came to volunteer on was. Quiet Mogwai in my headphones and Norwegian wood out of the window. Grey comforting sky, amazing colourful leaves, lakes, farms…I felt good.
I got met by lovely Stina and Kaspar. Stina is a swedish girl who has been working on and off on the farm for a long time. She makes the best bread in the world and does carpentry like she has been doing it all her life (she hasn’t!). Also she is one of those brave ones from our “little” family who could get up at 6 and go running in the cold dark Norwegian woods. Kaspar is a permanent resident on the farm (dog).
I was expecting Zeyang (the guy who runs the boat project) to be of course Chinese, with such a name and Beijing all over the place. Upon arrival I discovered that Zeyang is not Chinese, but quite a typical tall blonde Norwegian guy.
I arrived to the farm just in time for lunch which was a great opportunity to meet everyone together at the dining table. In the team were:
Anka- from Poland. Very gentle, kind and sensitive person. One can only wonder and be amused by her skill of hitch-hiking and following intuition.
Charlotte- she was the funny/fun one. 🙂 The smile and the laugh of the group. If it wasn’t for her I would probably laugh half as many times as I did.
Jonathan- Aussie traveler, who hitch hiked a fair bit of Europe and was a great person to chat away with while sitting on scaffold high above the ground, painting the wall and getting high on fumes of paint. Sometimes I think we laughed a lot, not because of Charlotte and her ability to be funny, but because all four of us got high on paint fumes. Jonathan was one of the brave ones to get up for running before sunrise too.
Sissy- from Germany, an amazing person, who travels a lot alone and has seen a lot and been to many places.:) She is the most open minded 19 year old girl I know. She is also a very very passionate carpenter.
Karen- the most dedicated cat lover I’ve ever seen in my life. Pity I didn’t spend much time working with this special girl, but going hiking and sharing a few laughs was nice. She was the one who was getting up at dark hours, but not to go exercising, but to make porridge for the rest of us lazy sleepy bums. It was sad when she left, but not only because someone else had to get up and make porridge…
Beata- she was the one who arrived later, but fit in just perfect in our group. A gentle, quiet girl, playing sweet guitar next to the fire place.
Neil- pity we didn’t get to know each other, because Neil left pretty much straight after my arrival, but from what I know he keeps coming back to help building the beautiful boat.
Garet- let him have a carrot!
We really had an awesome team and I recall only good and joyful memories of the time spent together.
The work started straight away. I was lucky enough to get there in time for a delicious lunch and then had little time to quickly change into working clothes and here we go!…the white paint… After the first day of work I was proudly given a ‘tag’ of the white painter, because the rest were getting high on red paint.
I came to this semi-remote farm in Norway not for sniffing paint and socialising with great people, or should I say not ONLY for that, I came here to help a great man, Zeyang, to build his great boat. The project runs like wwoofing. Volunteers come to help building the magnificent sail vessel or do other work that is necessary in return for food and shelter and also for some other advantage in the near future. Zeyang is building a 12 meter double ender pilot cutter. More about the project you can find out on couch surfing groups or on wwoofing. If you want to be a sea gypsy and participate in an amazing environmentally aware inspiring fun project- you should!
Normally there would be 4 to 6 people on the farm. When I was there it was 10 to 11 of us, which was fun. There would be a roster for every day for who is on the kitchen duty and I can’t recall a single time when the meal would be bad or average. Actually I can’t recall a time when I wouldn’t be thinking to myself by the end of the meal “Ok, Dasha, you have to stop eating now. I know it is delicious, but you gotta know the limit.’ Stina would make delicious bread every three days or so, that went so well together with home made honey or home made apple jam…Not to mention Friday pancakes dinner or weekends waffles…mmm, just the memories make my mouth water. Cooking for a big team was a good experience too- kind of an improvisation of something that should be delicious, easy, quick and also different from what we had the previous days. 🙂
The first week went by quickly, while we were working on the barn, repainting it, renewing the roof and putting gravel on the road. It felt quite easy and natural to wake up earlyish, when the fog is disappearing above the fields, quickly have breakfast and keep working until it gets dark, with a lunch break. I realised how much I missed doing physical work, doing something with my hands, when I could observe the progress straight away, feel useful and capable.
Weekends came, which are from Friday afternoon to Monday lunch, and on Saturday we went for a short hike into the Norwegian woods, finding the remaining blueberries and mushrooms in lush green moss. How I love North-Eastern Europe’s nature and it’s woods. To me, it feels like there is some sort of mystical magic, a wonderland, like I have been taken on a tour to a forgotten fairy tale from my childhood. Pine trees, soft soft moss to step on, fog moves through the trees and valleys, wooden huts and my imagination extends to see a big moose with it’s horns looking up from behind a pine tree.
On Sunday we decided that we hadn’t had enough, so we packed up and went for a camp on the lake. On the way to finding a camp site we found Santa and as soon as we reached the lake we put him on a boat for a long journey around Norway. Not knowing where to pitch our tent, we went along the lake until we hit a perfect opening with benches and convenient access to a lake. Of course it was a private property, but nevertheless we stayed there. Kind owners of the place let us camp there and also provisioned us with fire wood, paper and matches. Good people!
One has to admire our courage because it was getting quite cold in Norway in late October. Karen, Beata, Charlotte and Anka only joined us for a hike and returned to a warm home for overnight and as for us – me, Sissy and Jonathan – after sitting next to a fire and roasting our wet socks and feet, we drank what we had of vodka and crawled into our sleeping bags in the tent. It was cold. I kept waking up all night thinking wild pigs or moose were sniffing around our camp site, also trying to cuddle up closer to the body laying next to me to warm up. In the end all of it was worth it, when morning glory welcomed us into a new day. The view of thick fog sitting like a layer of frothy milk on cold blue waters, sparkly frozen grass and leaves and layers of white frost all over the camp site – it was magic!
Next week went by as quickly as the first one in work and getting to know people. I got upgraded from a white painter to a red one and also learnt to use the electric saw along with other cool tools.
It was very tempting to stay in the house for a weekend and watch movies and cuddle up with the cat on the sofa, but there are places to see and places to be, so in a team of 5 we took off to check out some Fjords and mountains. We found a couch surfer near Molde, who could accommodate all of us, which is a rare thing for a large group and went on a hitch hiking mission – 400km of windy road starting at 1pm. The aim was to reach the couch surfer by midnight, who was kind enough to meet us with his car and drive us for the price of petrol to his place. Since it is impossible to hitch in a group of 5 we split into three groups- Anka, Charlotte, me+Sissy+Jonathan. Three of us had the least chance to get there in time, because it isn’t easy to hitch in threesomes, but there are some bonds you can’t break after freezing in one tent overnight. =)) Low chances became even lower after our first ‘car’ that we managed to stop and hitch turned out to be a bus finishing his shift and being kind enough to take us for free. The whole trip was an adventure for all us, but it was marvellous. When by 10 o’clock or so we were ready to give up and spend the night in the next petrol station, we found a ride straight to Molde and were the first to make it to the couch surfers place! Charlotte ended up spending the night in a hacker’s place and Anka with a Kurdish family.
Our couch surfer was a rare one. He is about 60 with a very outstanding personality. Born in Norway, he spent most of his life in England, where he acquired a British accent and other peculiar habits and passions. His house is full of interesting objects, which he was proud to show us and explain everything about, himself included. There is no doubt one can never be bored with a person like Bertram.
After a long breakfast and a long talk we finally gathered ourselves, took bicycles provided by the couch surfer and not willing to wait for our missing team members any longer, we took off to check out the coast line. On the way out we met Anka who we left with Bertram to keep him company. The ride was very pleasant and good exercise (not that we lacked it working every day on the farm) with spectacular views and a cheeky cup of hot chocolate at the end of it.
The next evening was spent reunited eating dinner and playing marbles with our host, only to wake up earlyish in the morning to hitch hike back to Eina, to our farm. This time Jonathan and Sissy went to Bergen, since they finished their volunteering on the farm and us three ladies towards Oslo. Anka, following her magic intuition separated from us and me and Charlotte were extremely lucky to find a ride with a very lovely person, Magnu, who was returning home to Oslo, right outside of Molde. It is not easy to hitch hike in Norway (unless you are Anka =) ), so we were very lucky to find a ride like this with a person like Magnu. We shared some nice conversation, some chocolate and coffee. Also his dog was lovely and kept on cheekily licking Charlottes ears while she slept on the back seat.
The third and final week for me was exciting in terms of working. I got to help Stina to build the scaffold for painting and repairing the barn and then continued building it with other lady helpers. I am very proud of our efforts and the scaffold that we built. Here is our creation! An artwork! 🙂
Pity one day later, after we finished with painting we had to take the beautiful creation down…but that’s how we learn to let go, isn’t it? I have to admit that destroying something is a lot quicker than building it…and at least as much fun!
Unfortunately, during those three weeks I didn’t get to work on the boat, but I never regret going to the farm and I know whatever work I have done, it all goes towards one goal.
Not willing to leave the cosy house I stayed for my last weekend with Anka and Charlotte. We made some pancakes, watched some movies and even (!!!) went to visit local French nuns. We participated in their evening prayer and continued on straight to a local pub! – to finally enjoy our first glass of wine in three weeks.
Sad, but it was time for me to leave as well, to see some of Oslo before I flew back to Spain. I really enjoyed it! – maybe because I love wandering around the unknown streets of a new city, listening to music, getting cold hands from taking pictures, having coffees and cheap food in alternative places and smiling to foreign strangers. One of the places I recommend visiting is Vigeland sculpture park (Frogner Park), which has a lot of very bizarre sculptures.
Other than that Oslo was full of autumn colours and just a nice mood and atmosphere around it.
The rest of pictures are here.