"The future has many names. For the weak she is the unattainable, for the timid the unknown and for the brave she is the chance. " Victor Hugo
After I've told you in the first part of my story about the first thoughts about my plans to emigrate to Norway, today it's about the first experiences in the "promised" land.
Emigration to Norway: from departure and arrival
You know that: you make a plan, prepare everything as well as possible; and then throw a life sticks between your legs. Of course I was not spared in my plan to emigrate. A few weeks before the planned departure my car left me and brought me a lot of excitement. But everything in turn, because before I want to explain how it should ultimately go ...
Of course, my countless trips to Norway, in the years leading up to the actual departure, brought with me a few acquaintances on the spot. So I met a Norwegian who introduced me to a couple in the Norwegian Eikelandsosen, a small town near the Hardangerfjord. This illustrious couple (he was in their mid-60s and she, a Frenchwoman, in their mid-20s) runs an organic farm near the village, Øvre Hålandsdalen, at an altitude of about 300 meters, seeking help in the form of volunteering.
As many of you know, there are several organizations that teach young people into organic farming as a laborer. Although I did not know this at the time, I found the idea interesting in the end, as it offered them the opportunity to arrive in Norway without a specific employment contract. After a lot of chats on the internet, we had a relatively quick agreement. That took some of the pressure off me and I was able to take care of the already mentioned problems with the mobile pedestal.
Unfortunately, it was not easy to solve this problem. The repair of my then car would have clearly exceeded the value, and not least my emigration budget completely taken over. Now, good advice was expensive, as they say. After some back and forth but I was fed up and while I still packed some bags, rolled "the old man" on a Polish van from the yard. I decided to tackle the matter pragmatically and bought an Opel Corsa B built in '93. No airbags, no servo and 45 hp. That's the way it should go to Norway.
For the salvation of the little one must be said that his technical condition was better than that of the now exported to Poland. Some small repairs later, the Corsa was clear and it started. At that time I decided on the route over the ferry harbor Hirtshals to Kristiansand. In my many tours to Norway, I had actually been in Vestlandet, Norway, which is why I planned exactly how I drive. Instead of reaching the coast via the Stavanger mountains, I decided, after a detailed map study, to drive across the country. It started so and after endless hours on the German Autobahn, I reached Hirtshals and a little later Kristiansand. The adventure could begin.
Anyone who knows the way from Kristiansand to the western Norwegian fjell landscape knows about the beauty of this region. Since I basically had all the time in the world, I often paused and went on smaller tours in the woods. It was May, so it was already relatively warm and snow-free in some areas, which I took advantage of extensively.
Since the estimated travel time from Germany to the place Eikelandsosen was 23 hours (without a break), I once camped in the woods. But: in spite of all nature, I had to arrive someday. So I drove halfway awake after the overnight stay in the forest, over the Haukelifjell and Odda to Eikelandsosen. That's where I got my first experience of what the Norwegians call punctuality and reliability.
Even while I was traveling by car, I had called my future bosses and told them when I would be there. I was then promised to wait at the agreed meeting place to escort me to the farm in the mountains. It's a deal! Stupid only, when I arrived there was no one and I had to wait an hour until I could even reach someone by phone. Of course, that was not great because of the long drive and one night in the tent.
At some point, however, an older lady appeared, who immediately rushed toward me, hugging me and asking in French, with English accentuated English, if I was Thomas. I said yes and she laughed and blabbered on it. A bundle of energy hit a fatigued Thomas, who suddenly had to speak English. But we were quickly warm and drove to the yard, which, as mentioned, hid deep in Øvre Hålandsdalen.
Øvre Hålandsdalen, but also Eikelandsosen itself, which was immediately visible, are not typical places where tourists stay. We drove from the meeting point a few kilometers towards Hardangerfjord, before we turned left. Then the now narrow, sometimes bad, road wound around lakes, farms, and small settlements up the hill. There seemed to be no end and houses were less and less to see. In these areas, as well-versed travelers to Norway know, winter service, if you can call it that, is not always present, especially as this work is mostly done by local farmers.
And so the road with increasing altitude became increasingly icy and when I write "icy", then I really meant in places bare ice, which sometimes led me to the edge of my driving skills. The farm, I learned later, is located at just below 300 meters on a foothills of 823 meters high Våkefjell. An unbelievably picturesque landscape, far from civilization with scattered farmsteads, massive ridges and a lot of forest.
During the journey but I had little muse to enjoy the scenery. Despite new winter tires, I had immense problems the last few meters to get to the farm. From the previously paved road a better dirt road went up to the left, which basically consisted of only one: ice. My guide was long gone in her four-wheel drive Subaru while trying to get over the ice. Three attempts later, I chased the small Corsa but up the mountain and slid past all sorts of equipment, which one finds on a farm so, towards the house.
The master of the house was not there, which I already knew. I use the time to get a picture of the situation. I quickly realized that I had hit it very well. The house was a so-called Småbruk. Thus, the Norwegians refer to the smaller farms, which usually consist of a residential building, a nearby hut and a barn. Everything was quite old, but not run down.
Here I met "old Norway" for the first time, as the host, Bjørn, later called it. The doors were basically not locked, no matter if someone was home or not. The same was true for the vehicles, from the tractor to the private car. It sometimes happened that one of the neighboring farmers came by, bottled homemade wine from the immense wine balloons in the cellar and disappeared with one of the farm's tractors.
Of course I was irritated by the beginning of this, as I always closed my house and car well, which in turn provoked irritated looks from Björn. But I quickly learned that people here, outside of the urban settlement areas, all know each other, help and as far as possible also support. A community into which I later became well and quickly integrated. But more on that later.
A few hours later, it was already evening and I had moved into a room, then the two owners arrived. The welcome was warm and it was homemade wine and a fabulous moose stew. The evening ended in good conversation with liquor. One thing was clear: here you could feel good and stay a little. Or maybe longer?
It will continue in the third and last part of my emigration history. Be curious!
Some impressions of the field work in summer Hålandsdalen: