Week one: The Lofoten effect

I’m not sure when I first knew I wanted to go to the Lofoten islands. My parents hadn’t even heard of them until I said I was going. But for a while now they have been near the top of places that I had to visit. I started planning this trip over a year ago, ever since I knew I would be well enough to travel. At first, it was 3 months of interrailing but slowly the length of time I planned to be away lengthened as Norway and specifically, Lofoten pulled at my heartstrings and I knew I needed to spend some proper time there.

Planning a 5-month trip is as much not planning as it is planning, you can’t know what will happen or who you will meet and so having empty weeks makes it much easier. But when I started to plan one thing had to be part of the itinerary, 6 weeks in Lofoten. As Norway is so expensive I decided to work away for this part and found work on a small, family run, goat farm on the islands.

After the stress of my fight being canceled, I still manage to arrive as planned on Friday night, I don’t really know what to expect. I have never been to Norway before, I’ve only seen pictures and I really have little information about the people I will be working with. For me the lack of information is daunting but I’m determined not to let fear get hold of me and so even as I stand at the ferry dock at Stamsund looking around hoping someone will be here to pick me up I try to remain calm and unafraid.

I’m found my Tord, the oldest son of the farm, by being the most lost looking backpacker. This apparently, is his method of knowing who he needs to find, the person standing looking around with a giant bag and a scared lost look on their face is the one most likely to be going to the farm.

I could write endlessly about the day to day life but while I’m enjoying my work here immensely I don’t think it is the most important thing about this place. Work outside is bliss, I love that the soundtrack to my day is the calling of the birds and the wind hollowing through the valley. I love seeing the purpose of what I’m doing, planting and gardening, things I wouldn’t want to do at home. And my working days here are short only 5 hours a day five days a week.

But there is more to this place then the work or the mountains. Right now I feel more alive than I have done in years, I’m waking up refreshed and ready to go every morning, I’m going for long walks after work most days. Being here in nature is doing what I hoped it would, it’s helping to push the last of the Chronic fatigue away.

I will finish work and then have dinner, it’s at 3pm here, then all I want to do is go out into nature. I look outside and it’s like I’m pulled towards the mountains. I walk up on a  path behind the farm to an old Viking path that once connected the villages on the islands. Climbing onto the ridge you reach Vetten, where the Vikings had a warning fire when they saw invaders coming, now all you see is the stunning view mountains and lakes and the sea on all sides.

My body hasn’t climbed anything steeper than the hill on Hampstead Heath for a long time and I can hear my heart in my chest as I climb but even that I love. My body feels like my own again. I feel like I can do anything. I’m flooded with positivity, joy and happiness. Part of me wishes I had come here earlier, being somewhere where every time you look out the window you want to be outdoors would have surely helped my recovery. But I’m here now and that is all that matters.

When I’m not working or walking I’m happy to sit in the cafe and knit or read. The whole atmosphere is relaxing. Everything is so peaceful, I feel totally at ease here. Totally free. I’m under the Lofoten effect.

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Tak for reading!

With love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

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