06/28 Bodo, Norway

28 Jun 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

06/28 Bodo, Norway


I picked up a pair of apples and a few candy bars for the trek, while Jim checked the train schedules.  “Track four, ready to go” said Jim.  After a minute or two with no train, it dawned on me that Jim most likely misread the schedules and picked the wrong platform.  I retrieved the schedule from Jim’s bag, “I’ll hold the bags, you go check platform six” I bluntly stated.  In the tunnel between the platforms I could hear Jim’s echo, “Its going!!”  I broke out into a run, handed Jim the bags and jumped onto a moving train.  It was too late to change our minds.  I was half asleep, standing between compartments and there were no seats available within view.  I started entertaining thoughts of sleeping on the floor.  I turned to Jim and told him that I’d watch the bags, if he would please find us some seats.  It’s better to find seats without trekking the gear around.

I could see Jim walking away from me through the dirty window that separated me from the passengers of the adjacent car.  When he reached the very end of the first car he turned a waved as if there were seats available.  I carried both bags, one in each arm down the corridor toward Jim.  A little past the halfway point, I heard giggles to my right and when I lifted the bags up into the overhead racks, I received what I would classified as catcalls.  Then I realized I forgot the bag of apples.  When I turned in the direction of the whistles, in practically every seat that faced us were those girls who sang to me on the platform in Oslo.  On the way back from retrieving the abandoned apples, one of the young ladies stuck out her leg to stop me from passing.  She looked up and asked me something in Norwegian.  I responded with something like “Sorry I only speak English” Where are you from?” she questioned.  “California”, I responded.  “Ohhhh California”, resonated through the group of girls.  I was dead on my feet and tried to arrange my pillow on the seat’s armrest to get some sleep but this bored group of girls just wouldn’t have it.

They began singing every English song they knew from God bless America, a few choruses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat in order to keep me from falling asleep.  I kept noticing glances from people in the rear of the compartment wondering what all the commotion was about.  At one point I almost got to sleep but my short dream or passing thought was interrupted by the flashing of a camera.  At that point I began to get a bit freaked out.  Why were they taking a picture of me?  I was concerned that my fly might have been open or something else embarrassing.  The young lady who appeared to be the shiest of the group leaned forward toward me and asked if I would please play the guitar for them.  I explain I didn’t know how to play the guitar and I wasn’t about to embarrass myself in front of all you young ladies.  She gave me a look back like she didn’t believe a thing I said.  At that point one of the three mothers that were acting as chaperones for the group turned around in her seat and asked if I would mind if she sketched a portrait of me.  I laughed, thinking this all was some kind of a joke.  Perhaps I was on Candid Camera Norway.  It was then the conversation started.  “Where have you been?”, “Where are you going?”, “Do you like our country?”  The girls listened with intensity while I sat for my portrait, she refused to take no for an answer.  Some of the girls had left their seats to move within hearing distance and a few of the girls had wandered in-between train cars to enjoy a cigarette.

One of the young ladies leaned over and asked me if Jim was shy.  “He doesn’t say very much does he?”  The entire time Jim was sitting in the corner seat and hadn’t shared a word.  “You don’t know Jim, he’s just tried” I responded while gesturing for Jim to mingle with the others outside.  He stood up immediately and headed out between the compartments to join the smokers.  As we got past a few of the obvious questions, I learned that this group of girls had been singing together for the last five years and had the opportunity to produce a couple of albums.  They were on their way home from their swan song tour.  I was told that the girl’s initial fascination with me was spawned by my physical likeness to their conductor.  I understood that he had just quit the group to pursue a career as a pianist.  Supposedly we looked exactly alike.  This train ride home was the end to an important chapter in their lives.

Our conversation bounced around until we landed on the subject of my journal.  “What are you writing?  Who are you writing to?”  Since I refused to play the guitar, I was asked to write a poem for them instead.  I asked about the song they had sung to me in Oslo’s station.  I was told it was a Norwegian folk song, a story about a young girl who wished to inspire a young man’s passion for her.  She wandered into the summer fields and gathered flowers and then she’d place them under the pillow where he slept.  These flowers would turn his dreams to love for her.  They watched intensely as I incorporated the elements of their folk song into a poem to solidify this moment between us.

To walk in hand, a virgin heart
to the break of day
me the wind
as lovers
by her bedside play

Before the night, had faded soon
to the fields she’ll run
she the wind
as flowers
before the morning sun

She’ll carry in hand, bundled in truth
flowers for your bed
lay them down
to pillow
dreams of dreams, she lead

To walk in hand, a virgin heart
to the break of day
we the wind
as lovers
by our bedside play

In order to break up the parade of questions, I joined Jim out between the two cars for a cigarette.  As I exited the compartment and had eye contract with the young ladies outside, the first words that came out from my mouth were, “Which one of you girls are taking me home tonight?” Three quickly offered with giggles.  That came out wrong, so I restated my question, explaining that we needed a place to sleep when we reached Fauske.  The oldest of the group explained that her parents were on holiday and she would be happy if we would stay with her during our visit.  The remaining hour before we reached Fauske was by far the most memorable and the most special.  I sat among all the girls while they sang their last concert to us.  When our train reached Fauske and I was attempting to exit the train an elderly couple who had been sitting in the rear of the compartment stopped me.  The woman hugged me and thanked me for the memorable ride.  “Are you kidding me?” I just sat there and listened.

Voices of Norway, sing, sing aloud, along with me, along with me
these hills, they wait to answer, their echo’s always heard, enchanting me, their melody, a song sung sweet as birds
Sing, sing aloud, along with me, along with me, enchanting me, their melody, a song, so seldom heard

We followed our new guide through the city to her parent’s home.  About half way down the path between the train platform and our destination, we met up with one of her neighborhood friends.  She was very cute, with smiling eyes and an innocent smile.  From the moment she was introduced to us, Jim began acting like a puppy that had rediscovered its mommy.  I on the other hand had very little interest in anything other than sleep.  It’s been days and I can’t remember the last time I slept.  I almost fell asleep standing up in the shower.    Then there was a knock on the door.  Jim’s Freyja arrived with some eggs to prepare us omelets.  It’s about three in the morning and the girls crawled out on the balcony to sun bathe.  I started to get the impression that nobody sleeps around here.  At one point I stretched out on the floor and must have fallen asleep, because I was awoken by cold water and laughter.  Hilda, the sparkplug of the group added some needed spice to the evening and challenge the group explore the countryside.  The five of us piled into a small automobile and headed out toward Bodo to get a better view of the midnight sun.  Even though the sun continued to shine, everything seemed as if it was painted with a slightly different hue.  As if somebody stole some of the blue tones.  I carried Hilda on my shoulders down to a more private view, trying our best to avoid the bugs.  At the moment when the sun came to a stop, just before it began its path back up into the sky, I attempted to take a couple of pictures.  I was just sporting a cheap 35mm pocket camera without any accessories, so there was almost no chance I got a picture.  It’s a bad sign when the shutter speed is in minutes rather than factions of seconds.

We stopped along the way home, had ourselves a few beers and then to my disappointment we dropped off Hilda.  She was kinda of our energy that moved us from one point to another.  Jim and his new friend began petting in the kitchen and our host began giving me the eye.  I wasn’t attracted and the thought of romance was far outweighed by the thought of a good night’s sleep.  I managed to persuade her to set a mood for the two lovebirds, so in the adjacent room she pulled some beautiful memories out of the piano while the two lovebirds necked in the adjacent room.  I crawled down stairs, sealed up the room from the light and finally managed to get some sleep.  I have unappreciated the sun’s ability to provide energy and to throw off my sense of time.  I lost all track of time.

When we wandered into town to gather up some supplies and beer for the day, most of the adults the girls knew gave us the stink eye.  The thought that perhaps our staying with these young girls was being viewed as inappropriate lingered through the day.  I persuaded Jim that maybe it was best to stick with our schedule and keep our commitment to the Fourth of July party in Amsterdam.  We could make our way back up here afterwards.  I procured a jewelry box for my sister’s birthday.  It was kind of interesting, made of some stone that was laced with gold.  I understood they mined those rocks close by.  One present down, two to go.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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