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Norway 4. Fjaerland. Twilight Zone.

[ The following is another installment from my notes on a recent trip to Scandinavia.]

June 29, 2009.

Today we got a boat from Balestrand to Fjaerland, a sweet, quiet hamlet between the Fjaerland fjord and the Jostalbreen glacier, which is the largest in Europe.

When Sylvia and I got off the ferry to Fjaerland, it felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone. The other passengers on our boat all got into a tour bus that had ridden in the ferry. They drove off, leaving us alone, in this utterly silent and deserted Sunday morning Norwegian village, the fjord beside us and snow-capped mountains all around.

Anything I say feels superficial, overly dramatic, here in the core of this uncanny beauty. I feel like a fly on a freshly frosted cake.

Sylvia had been talking about finding a book to read so, lo and behold, there’s an unmanned shelf of books by the road, with a sign reading “Honest Books, 10 Kr. each.” We’re both wearing shades, very Californian. I light a cigarette, I’m a noisy wise-guy, the tour bus grinds by, I wave, nobody seems to see me.

True to Twilight Zone style, I imagine myself as a city clicker in a black suit, and my consort as a sexy blonde on spike heels, our voices overly loud amid the silent mountains.

[Part of the porch of the Hotel Mundal appears on the left.]

The Hotel Mundal is the size of a large house, vintage 1891, with a fresh-faced young woman at the desk, perhaps from the founder’s family.

Across the street is a wooden church. Some first names in the churchyard across the street form our little hotel: Gurid, Ingvald, Ingebrigt, Ola, Kjell, Ola, Mikkel, Anggar, Brynhild. There’s a Swanhild Aarskog.

Many of the gravestones bear the epitaph, “Takk for Alt,” meaning “Thanks for Everything,” some just say Takk. I love that.

What a great sentiment with which to leave the world. “Thanks for everything, world, it’s been great—you really went all out.” And forget about any bitter rant like, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Go out happy. Why not?

Life’s rich panoply. I’m so grateful that I made it here.

The second day I rent a bike and ride up the canyon, nobody in sight for miles. At one point a single vehicle drives by: a blue tractor. I pass a bridge too rickety to walk upon.

In the evening an older woman, the manager of the hotel, tells us about its history.

She mentions that a few months ago a farm’s concrete reservoir of cow manure had burst uphill, releasing a kind of a poo-avalanche that swept past the hotel and into the fjord. No sign of that now.

In the front yard of the hotel is a vertical stone plinth, like a mini-version of that 2001 slab, covered not with writing, bit with (seemingly) lichen-like spots. Suppose that the spots are glyphs in the Unknown Tongue used by the Great Old Ones who live beneath the placid surface of the fjord.

Thinking back to our arrival in terms of a Twilight Zone episode, I imagine that the woman finds a book with curious blotches and symbols. It’s called God Bøk, which is Norwegian for Good Book.

“Is this math?” she asks, flipping through the pages. Her consort is a mathematician, she’s a linguist.

Suppose that the bursting of the cow-poo reservoir was orchestrated by the Great Old Ones? Too ludicrous maybe. Perhaps it would be more commercial to have a moonlit clearing with the proposed human sacrifice of a beautiful Norwegian girl, a sacrifice blocked by the woman heroine, with her man’s aid—they have power because they’ve deciphered the blotch-runes on the stele by using the God Bøk.

6 Responses to “Norway 4. Fjaerland. Twilight Zone.”

  1. Mike Rex Says:

    The poo avalanche sounds like Hercules was up in the hills cleaning the stables!

  2. rem Says:

    Great pics You Have as always.. Tha..oh im not dead yet

  3. dianne Says:

    It’s hard to believe that country such as shown still exists! Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Oddvar Says:

    Thanks for a great website with many beautiful pictures. I lived in Fjaerland from age 4 to 6, where my father was the head of the local mall.
    I recognise several of the places there and most of all Hotel Mundal where my mother used to work.
    There is a fantastic nature and as a boy there I used to go with the tourist bus to Jostedal Glacier. When the bus door opened after the trip I stood buy the bus-door collecting coins as salary for the job of grind-opening to and from the glacier.
    Oh happy days, but don’t try to swim in the fjord. It is mostly melted ice water at the top and an truly extreme sports to swim there. I remember we had some kind of dug-out swimming pool on land close to the fjord with much warmer water in the summertime.

  5. Jared Mundahl Says:

    A place to dream of visiting someday.

  6. Rudy Says:

    I ended up writing an SF story called “Fjaerland,” I wrote it with Paul Di Filippo, and you can read it online here:

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